I grew up in the country not far from a set of crossroads – two roads intersecting each other. Neither road was particularly busy but it also wasn’t odd to meet cars at it. But there were no stop signs. It seems like there were at one time, but they haven’t been there for years.
Familiar with the crossroads, I don’t think much about the options. I know which way I plan to go, and I pause or stop, depending on the height of the crops in the fields, then proceed.
But crossroads aren’t just for our own choices. Many people in our lives are pulling up to crossroads of their own. We might be confident in which way we plan to go, but many people are uncertain. Some of the choices they face at crossroads might not be of great importance but other choices have instant or long-lasting effects.
Of course, we’re not responsible for other people’s choices, but we need to pay attention to noticeable moments when people are approaching, pausing at, or confused by crossroads in their lives. They might barrel through without paying much attention, and it can look to us like they know where they’re headed; yet they might just be carelessly proceeding. They might pause, stop, then park, nearly paralyzed by the options. It’s often easier to tell when that happens, in comparison to barreling through the intersection.
Regardless of what we notice, what we do when we notice matters.
Notice the crossroads.