The road sign said “stay in your lane.” It seems obvious to tell drivers to stay in their lane. Captain
Obvious (remember him?) would say something like this. It seems about as obvious as if they would make a sign that simply stated “obey the law.” Oh wait, maybe I’ve seen that one flashing on a sign, too.
I suppose you could find any number of obvious or redundant signs (like the one that says Caution – Water on Road when raining). But the “stay in your lane” expression transcends traffic, and I think hence some of its clear implications.
According to one article I read on the Internet, “stay in your lane” as a command started in football. Players are given a route, a lane to run, and they are told to stay in their lanes. Of course in football there are antagonists to fight in the process, something you usually don’t find in traffic. Staying in your lane in football means that you are following orders, you are being faithful to your teammates, and you are playing to your strengths.
It’s interesting that in popular culture it has come to mean something else. When someone disagrees with your position and begins to argue against it, you tell them to “stay in your lane.” I think that means that you don’t want them treading on what you perceive to be your domain, your right, or your opinion.
So its use gets interesting when used outside the context of traffic or football. It seems to me that if I end up saying that to somebody, I am shutting them down. If in conversation I tell you to “stay in your lane,” you will be hurt, put down, and maybe challenged. It demeans the other person. Now, I can envision that we might say that to somebody we love and want to keep from embarrassing themselves, to “stay in your lane.” But still, it cuts off, or shuts up the other person.
On the other hand, if I apply it to myself, it seems like wise counsel. I have long understood the propensity that I carry naturally within me, to carry an opinion about just about everything. Whether I know anything about it or not! I will go to great lengths to make a point, for which I bring little to the table, and usually have little to do with anyway. To remind myself to “stay in my lane” then
reminds me to participate in the conversation, but to not wander too much from what I truly know.
Now, I am a car guy. It seems to me that within your lane, you should go fast. Within your lane you should get your half of the middle (as my grandfather used to say). In our own lanes we should contribute as much as we can. It’s the place where God has put us, blessed us, and expects us to flourish.
And with blinkers, we can change lanes. Where we are allowed in, where we ask in, where there is room, changing lanes isn’t bad. It’s when we force things that we get into trouble. So I guess the self-reminder to stay in our lanes is really just an expression of humility. Proverbs 11:2 says: “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.” Right. When I get to talking about stuff I don’t know, disgrace follows my pride. But stopping an exit or so before that is wise, and others think you as wise when you do. Pretty cool.
Trying to stay in my lane,
For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. Romans 12:3