When I lived in Afghanistan, I noticed something about myself and my companions. There were definite signs that we were in trouble. I don’t mean in trouble with the Taliban, but rather in trouble with ourselves.
One of my coworkers had a tendency to melt down into tears. Another withdrew, reevaluated her schedule and created new plans. I just snapped people, usually loudly. There’s a word for that, but I won’t use it in this blog.
The point is, we each had a different response to stress, but we all had a response. Do know what your responses are? Do you know when you’re in trouble?
I like to call these red flags.
Red flags tell me that I’m upset about something or that I’m working too hard and need to rest.
Recognizing my own red flags helped me considerably. It went something like this; okay, I snapped at three different people today. Yes, I was probably justified in, well, maybe two of them, but that’s not the point. I didn’t respond well and that means something is wrong and it probably doesn’t have anything to do with the people I snapped at.
So, Lord Jesus, what’s going on in me?
The question isn’t about looking for my faults and failures and then condemning myself and forcing myself to behave better. It’s about reflecting on what’s going on in my heart with Jesus who loves me and delights in healing my heart.
The next step is to listen, preferably with a pen and journal.
I’ve often been surprised at the things I’ve learned. Oh, I’m upset with this teammate. Yikes, I haven’t rested in weeks and I’m getting exhausted. Really, I just need to spend an evening playing, laughing with friends and relaxing.
Sometimes the process led me to repentance and confession. Sometimes to forgiveness and the extension of grace. Other times, it led me to take a break or to change the way I was working.
I wouldn’t have been able to harvest any of this fruit within my own life if I hadn’t notice the red flags and paid attention to them.
So I ask you again, what are your red flags? How do you know when you’re in trouble? How do you respond?