Pedestrians, Drivers, Church, and Forgiveness

I suppose you want to see where I go with the, doncha’? Well, so do I. So, let’s get started.

Approximately an hour before I began writing, I was ranting, raving upset over an encounter I’d had, as a pedestrian, with a driver who decided it was appropriate to yell at me as I was crossing the street, holding my little girl’s hand and carrying a heavy tote bag of groceries.

“Why don’t you walk as slow as you can? It’s not EVEN a crosswalk!”

“As a matter of fact, it IS a crosswalk,” I yelled back at him as I hobbled the rest of the way across the road, glancing over my shoulder to notice the nice, shiny, red pickup truck he was driving. “You need to read your Oregon Driver’s Manual,” I muttered and mumbled under my breath. I planned to come straight home and write a rant post about it. I am not going to rant, although I AM going to provide the chapter and verse of the 2012 – 2013 Oregon DMV Driver’s Manual, which specifies who has the right of way in these kinds of circumstances.

Section 5: Sharing the Road, Pedestrians, pp. 79: Drivers must recognize the special safety needs of pedestrians. Drivers should be especially alert for pedestrians who are young, elderly, disabled, or intoxicated. . . Generally, pedestrians have the right of way at all intersections. There is a crosswalk at every intersection, even if it is not marked by painted lines. [emphasis mine] . . . By law, the area included in the unmarked crosswalk is not less than 6 feet wide and exists even if there is no sidewalk or shoulder. . . At an intersection where pedestrians are crossing, you must wait until the pedestrians have cleared your lane and the entire next lane before you may go. . . . You must stop and remain stopped for pedestrians on the sidewalk when entering or leaving an alley, driveway, or private road.

The area where I was crossing had the sloped ramp for wheelchairs to get on and off of the sidewalk. I was crossing a one-way road along the pathway of a street, which often appears to the uninitiated to be a private road from the medical complex that goes into a parking area for medical center staff and visitors. It is actually a street, complete with a street sign. I was in an unmarked crosswalk, with my extremely tired and less than cooperative four year old daughter (very young) and I have fibromyalgia and have provided medical documentation to the transit company to qualify for an Honored Citizen Bus Pass (disabled). I had waited for the bus to move and began crossing when it appeared oncoming traffic was more than a block away.

Yet I was yelled at and criticized for “taking my time” to cross the road where no crosswalk was labeled.

I was hot, literally from the 85+ degree weather we had today, as well as emotionally and psychologically, in physical pain, frustrated and exhausted from trying to cope with an overtired, hot, cranky, and recalcitrant four-year-old, I wanted to do WAY more than just yell at him that I had been in a crosswalk. Knowing or believing that it is unlikely he will ever read whatever I wrote, I had it in my head that I was going to write a full-on, scathing rant about drivers who think they own the road because they have a quarter ton of metal surrounding them on four wheels.

First the child had to get settled in. Groceries needed put away. I tried to take a five minute break to myself, which got interrupted. So, I got into the shower to wash the dried sweat and layer of griminess that invisibly coated my skin. Finally, I sat down at the computer and my phone rang. It was a friend experiencing a bit of a crisis and he just needed me to set aside my mental to do list and be a friend in that moment.


33 minutes later we said our goodbyes and I was left wondering what exactly I was going to write about this whole thing, because something inside of me was saying I needed to write and I needed to write about this incident, even though I no longer had the fire of passive-aggressive, righteous indignation fueling my ire.

Why? What’s the point? It’s not like that driver is likely to ever see this blog post, right? Perhaps. Okay, then, well, why?

Then it hit me, forgiveness and church.

Say what? How in the world is this connected to THAT?

My friend, Marc Schelske, an author, blogger, and pastor of Bridge City Community Church recently welcomed me into a circle of writers who are willing to engage in discussion and conversation about matters of spirituality, faith, church, the bible and other topics which may come up along the way to intersect and relate to these. He posted a prompt question that was derived from a recent blog post of his, Does the church hate forgiveness? (Like Jonah). The question is, “Do you hate forgiveness?”

My simple, straightforward answer is, “No, I need it every day.” I need it when I snap, snarl, and yell in frustration at Luna because something she did, just because she’s a four year old little kid, inconvenienced me or tripped my last nerve because I was beyond my limits and ability to cope. Sadly, embarrassingly, exasperatingly, I have to confess it happens daily, often multiple times a day. I’m doing a lot better job with her than I did with her older sibs, but there is still a LOT of room for growth. I’m a good mom, but even good moms lose it more often than they like or want to admit to themselves or anyone else.

Here’s how it relates back to the incident with the driver vs. pedestrian scenario. I’m also a licensed driver, I just don’t own a vehicle. Occasionally, I get to drive and when I do, I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve failed to yield the right of way to pedestrians . . . even though I know better. Occasionally, a pedestrian or two have shared unkind words and gestures with me when I’ve unintentionally scared them with my failure to follow the words written in the Driver’s Manual.

The Driver’s Manual is a list of rules and the instructions for following those rules with identified potential consequences for failing to heed the words in the book. It’s fairly straightforward and everyone who obtains a driver’s license must pass a test in order to legally get behind the wheel of a vehicle and drive. Each licensed driver signs off and is certified that they know the rules of the road and agree to obey them.

Yet, there are still so many drivers who do not share the same understanding of what a crosswalk is and what their responsibility is to pedestrians, even though it is laid out in no uncertain terms.

The Bible is often identified as an acronym, Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth. It contains rules, instructions, and consequences too. However, there’s narrative, metaphor, literal and figurative all wrapped around the rules, instructions, and consequences. There is so much disagreement there are multiple religions that use it and within each of those religions there are sects or denominations that can’t agree on numerous points.

However, the bible says anyone who believes on/in Jesus is part of the body of believers and the body of believers is the church. That’s it. No test. No signed commitment or agreement to follow the rules. Believe in Jesus and let Him in. This means I am the church and anyone who claims the name of Jesus is the church, even if we interpret it differently, forget to do what we know, or get to caught up in what’s right in front of us too much to pay attention to what’s happening around us.

It’s possible Mr. Red Truck is also a believer who was having a bad day. Even if he isn’t a believer, my instruction manual tells me to forgive him.

Matthew 5:44 “But I tell you to love your enemies and pray for anyone who mistreats you.” ~ Contemporary English Version, via Bible Gateway

These words are attributed to Jesus. He not only said it, he gave the strongest example of it when he hung on the cross, facing the jeers and cheers of his fellow Jews, watching some of his friends and confidants, his students and fellow travelers turn their backs on him and deny him.

Luke 23:34 “Father, forgive these people! They don’t know what they’re doing.” ~ Contemporary English Version, via Bible Gateway

Whoever he is, whatever he believes, the guy in the red truck did not know what he was doing. He didn’t know me, my situation, or my circumstances. He didn’t know how his actions and words affected me. He obviously didn’t know that particular portion of the Driver’s Manual. Neither do I know him or what’s going on in his life. None of it matters. Enemy or friend, stranger or brother, I am called to forgive as I am forgiven. I receive grace and forgiveness daily. That means I have plenty to give, once I stop to think about it.



  1. “That’s it. No test. No signed commitment or agreement to follow the rules. Believe in Jesus and let Him in.” In years and years of being a Christian – and a number of PO’d years since then claiming not to be – I somehow never “got” this to the core of me. Although I’m still not steady, God seems to be kindly pounding me with this thought from you and a few others. It’s helping me forgive myself, many Christians (in or out of red pickup trucks), and to understand God differently. Thanks for putting it so clearly. Blessings. Diane


  2. A friend, who encounters ignorant drivers on the offensive, mutters a prayer for that “beautiful child of God.

    Through the years I have struggled with road rage and explaining the finer points of driving to the uninitiated or whom I call the ignorantly arrogant. They claim to own the road, but don’t know the rules.

    I had a construction foreman wave me down and pulled me over in a construction zone last Friday. He then proceeded to yell at me for disobeying one of his rules. I stood my ground, didn’t get mad, and told him he was wrong. (he was) – and he backed down. He didn’t realize I grew up in the road construction industry and have also spent years flagging traffic around car wrecks. I think he thought I was just another ignorant minivan driving bozo.

    Most of the time now, whether it is Christians who are on a high-horse, political zealots trumping the latest Obama conspiracy theory, or ignorantly arrogant drivers. I take a breath, exhale a prayer, keep calm, and carry on.


    1. Gary,
      Thanks for sharing that. “Beautiful child of God . . .” I’ll have to remember that. Kind of like living in the South and saying, “Bless their hearts,” when someone has “stepped wrong.” I have a tendency to forget the prayer piece of the equation, so it was a good reminder for me.



  3. I usually wish two flat tires on them (because who carries more than one spare), or mentally remind them that they’ve lost karma points. It’s not the most forgiving thing to do, but it helps me to acknowledge and release the hostility I feel. Kind of like being a passive-aggressive Buddhist. (Hey, I resemble that remark!)


    1. Mary,
      You are so funny!

      I used to do similar things when I experienced these kinds of events. Eventually, I realized I was racking up my own negative karma points by wishing them harm.

      It could be a reason why we are supposed to do good to those who bring us harm and bless our enemies…something more for me to ponder.

      Thanks for the grins.



  4. Man, sorry for your run-in with a jerk driver. I *did not know* that every corner is legally a cross-walk. That’s interesting.

    I’d be interested to see what you’d add or what you’d have to say, taking into account my own follow-up post to the original one.


    1. Thanks Marc. I actually had more ideas about it, but the post was already so long. I will be happy to do a follow up which includes a response to your newest post. It may not happen until tomorrow or Wednesday, but it shall be done.


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