Monday, November 23, 2009

Red Flags


Red flag is a semi-official term to denote various attention and awareness indicators and signals, both explicit and implicit. It can used in various contexts usually as a warning or when things seem too good to be true, as well as, unexpectedly good results.-(Wikipedia).

I think we use this term more in relationship, business, or interpersonal settings. Usually when we date someone, are doing business with someone, or interacting with someone in a social setting, we use the term “red flags” because of signals, feelings, or emotions we are getting. Maybe they are telling us to break-up or not marry this person? Maybe they are telling us to stay away from that friendship, or to not do business with that person because they are dishonest, or do not trust that person because their character or integrity is in question. The point is a “Red Flag” is an unseen and unwritten warning to us that something isn’t right, on the up and up, or something bad is going to happen if we continue on this same path.

If you are like me, at times you’ve ignored the “red flags” in life and you’ve paid a heavy price for it. You’ve been lied to, heartbroken, disappointed, burned, betrayed, abused, devastated, angry, frustrated, bitter, resentful, traumatized, or worse. Sometimes we are a victim of our own insecurity, stupidity, naivety, or selfishness. Other times it’s because we trust too much, ask too few questions, we don’t want to say No, don’t want to be alone, don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings, or we don’t stand up for ourselves.

The point is “Red Flags” are there for a reason. A warning. If you were driving down a road that had a warning sign “Road Closed, Bridge Out” you would not keep driving, yet for some reason in our relationships (professional and personal), we can’t seem to always heed the warnings. They put warnings on cigarettes, yet people still smoke. People are warned of the dangers of abusing alcohol or drugs, yet they still abuse them. People who know you best or know other people warn you not to marry that person or do business with that person, yet we go ahead and live a life full of remorse and regret.

We need red flags at times in our lives and more that needing them, we need to recognize them and use them. When we see a “Red Flag” we usually start making excuses, justifying, and ignoring them. If our heart, mind, or nature tells us we need or want something, then it doesn’t matter the consequences at the time. The thing is our minds and heart lie to us and can trick us. We can ignore the bad behavior of a person because they are physically good looking or because we don’t want to be alone, so we date them or marry them. We need to make a quick buck or we become greedy and think about all the money we could have so we do business with someone who takes our savings or retirement and blows it. We want to be friends with someone so we’ll be popular, fit in, or accepted so we hang out with the crowd or person who is not good for us and before you know it, we are trapped in a life we didn’t want and doing things we never thought we’d do.

Red Flags. They exist for a reason. A warning. Danger is ahead. Harm is coming. Hurt is heading your way. Decisions you can’t take back are going to happen.
Regret. Remorse. Guilt. Shame. Resentment. Pain. Suffering. These things are your future if you do not heed the warning signs. When you see or hear the “Red Flag” take time to stop and evaluate it. Evaluate the relationship, the friendship, the path you are heading down. Evaluate the Why’s and the What’s. Why am I doing this? Why do I need to do this? What will be the consequences? What do those closest to me and care about me and love me say? What does my gut tell me? What does God think of this?

“The highway of the upright avoids evil; he who guards his way guards his life.” Proverbs 16:17(NIV)

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