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Yellow Lights, Red Flags: Warning signs that help keep our noisy lives in check

Yellow Lights, Red Flags: Warning signs that help keep our noisy lives in check

I ran a big fat yellow light this week.

Actually, if you must know, it looked a tad orange. How a human brain can go back and forth that many times in a matter of 1.8 seconds is beyond me, but there I was:

Slow down. Punch it. 

I’m good. This isn’t good. 

Cops? No cops. 

I got this. I don’t got this. 

Gahhh!

Photo by Tom Barrett on Unsplash

Don’t judge. I’m guessing you’ve been in an orange light situation at some point, yes? 

Those split-second decisions don’t exactly give me time to wrangle my best drawl, sing Jesus Take the Wheel and then wait for Him to move. Most of the time I’m relying on my gut instincts while deciding on the fly. 

But what about the red flag decisions I’ve seen coming a country mile away? The ones that didn’t look, sound, or smell good but I moved forward anyway? 

  • The boys I kissed. 
  • The gossip I listened to.
  • That guy I dated. 
  • The words that flew from my mouth like a murder hornet. 
  • That toxic person I let in. 
  • The boundaries I didn’t set. 

In every situation, I saw or heard the warning signs clear as day and had a choice to stop… or at least swerve. Instead, I chose to slam straight into the flaming red flag.

Why? Was I clueless? Insecure? Feelin’ feisty? In denial? E, all of the above?

Since most young people don’t heed warning lights before their brains are fully developed, some poor choices could be blamed on age. But I wish someone had told me more about…

That Voice

If you’ve been a Christian for very long, you might have heard people refer to it as that “still, small voice.”

As in, calm. Quiet. Peaceful. 

That Voice (sometimes called God, sometimes The Holy Spirit), gives us discernment. He shines yellow lights, flashes orange warnings, and waves red flags, all for our benefit. 

But since this noisy world seems to only be getting noisier, I feel like I have to put forth a more concerted effort to quiet everything down so I can listen for those warning signs. 

My humanity wants to charge ahead with what seems easy and fun, pretending I can still be a keen listener while surrounding myself with nonstop noise. What I need to do is slow down and just listen, but those two things are usually much easier said than done. 

Bring On the Action

Here’s what I’ve done and what I’m working on:

1. I reduced my music consumption 

Our TV rarely comes out to play, but having a steady stream of music playing has been normal for the majority of my life. And here’s what I noticed: when I’m listening to songs, thinking about the lyrics, and continuously singing along, there’s no space in my brain to listen to anything else. 

Talking and listening are not congruent. They don’t coexist well. They are in constant competition. 

After mulling this over in my mind, I’m now perfectly content to move through my day without constant noise. I still love music, so I’m definitely not turning it off completely. But even wholesome/uplifting/Christian music… is still noise. Being intentional about moderation is my new goal.

2. I turned notifications O-F-F

Yes, my phone has less to do, but it’s not sad. 

Also, I’m not a businesswoman on Wall Street and I’m not an insecure teenager. So why do I need to know in real time if my second cousin once removed just liked my post, your great uncle had fun fishing, and it’s gonna be hot again tomorrow?

Duh—it’s still summer down here.

Not only will those spine-tingling notifications be there later, it feels good to be the one who decides when I take in more info. There are plenty of bosses in the world; I don’t need my phone to act like one too. 

3. I watch and listen for groups of three

If our pastor highlights a certain verse in his sermon…

Then I read the same verse in my bible study…

Then I hear the same verse in a song… 

It’s time to pay attention and listen.

If I’m feeling convicted about something…

Then a friend tells me about something similar she learned the hard way…

Then I read about something that matches…

It’s time to pay attention and listen.

God is obviously trying to tell me something, but sometimes I just don’t get it until the situation spins me around and slaps me on the back of the head.

Has this ever happened to you? It’s the coolest when He speaks to us through other people! And music! And His Word! I can’t figure out why it still shocks me though. I know this is how God works, and yet I’m still pleasantly surprised every time.

Now What?

So now that I have a slightly quieter mind, I want to be an active listener. I’ve thought about this at different times in my life, but since I’ve never been this old and our world has never been this loud, it feels different. 

I want to listen for God’s voice for a variety of reasons, but also so I can be aware of yellow lights and red flags a bit sooner. 

Photo by Russ Ward on Unsplash

Speaking of color, did you know turning your phone to grayscale can help curb phone addiction? Since the gray tones make everything look drab, it removes positive reinforcements in our brains and therefore makes scrolling and gaming look… blah.

My friend has been doing this for a little over a month and he said it’s great. Never heard of such a thing? Google it. You can always turn your phone settings back to full color (in 4 easy clicks or by asking Siri to do it), but if this helps get some of the noise out and quiet your mind, go for it!

Have you been in the middle of a yellow light situation?

Is your yellow light about to turn orange?

Have you ever ignored a red flag?

Are you ready to try greyscale on your phone?

Tell me in the comments. I reply to them all.

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When it’s Finally Time to Launch Your Business Idea. Small Starts are Better Than No Starts, Right?

When it’s Finally Time to Launch Your Business Idea. Small Starts are Better Than No Starts, Right?

Well? Are they? If you answered with a resounding, “Heck yeah! Go for it!” then you might not deal with issues of insecurity, perfectionism or strong aversions to failure. I always looked in awe at our neighbors in Baja who thought up an idea for a business, gathered a few supplies, and opened the following… Continue Reading

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Home Sweet Trailer in Baja: Abraham’s Forever Faith in My Face

Home Sweet Trailer in Baja: Abraham’s Forever Faith in My Face

I am no longer a journaler.  Journaler? That’s a weird word. I engaged my pens decades ago, especially when the subject matter revolved around boys, but then I tapered.  Since then I’ve started and stopped more than start-stop technology in city traffic, but I just can’t get into it. So now I use them as… Continue Reading

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Kicked Out of the Bank: When Rejection Suddenly Strikes You and Your Family

Kicked Out of the Bank: When Rejection Suddenly Strikes You and Your Family

A few years into Baja living, my husband learned to roll with the inconvenient punches, knew exactly how to pay all the bills in person, and understood the cultural norms.  But of all the places we visited in the city, going to a Mexican bank never felt fun.  Funky restaurants? Yes.  The Italian gelato shop?… Continue Reading

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Mexican Manna: Do You Know What You Need?

In case you’re considering launching a cross-cultural ministry, organic enterprise or local venture, here are two things I wish someone would have told me before our family took off for the great unknown.  Buckle up—they’re both extremely complex and ridiculously basic: Humans will disappoint you. God will provide for you. On some level, I already… Continue Reading

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Boring Testimonies: No Drama Necessary

My second boyfriend acted like a goody-two-shoes, but mostly wasn’t. My third boyfriend had a long scar on his face. I never asked why. My fifth boyfriend lived in a group home and wasn’t that into… talking.  My sixth got kicked out of school, but I don’t remember why. My husband tells stories of his… Continue Reading

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What the What? Didn’t See THAT Comin’

I cooked in my kitchen when the house phone rang. “Sharri has cancer.” I sat in his Jeep when he told me we were done. “I’m loving you more than I’m loving Jesus.” I stood on my college campus when I read, “You have not been selected for the position.”  I walked through a Costco… Continue Reading

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Praying for Closed Doors

“I don’t know which college to pick. I got into these two schools and I like them equally, but I’m afraid to pick the wrong one.” When we ran a GAP-year program in Baja, MX, each class of students lived with us from August to June. They were all recent high school graduates and no… Continue Reading

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A Loss, a Baby & Secondary Infertility

  After five years of marriage, my husband and I decided we wanted a baby.  Sad to say, I don’t recall checking with God much about this, but He didn’t send a concerned email so I laid my clothes on the bed next to Doug’s and bam—prego. Phone calls, nursery plans and a roomy pair… Continue Reading

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Do It Afraid

  “No Fear,” claims the American lifestyle clothing brand. “Fear not,” the preacher says.  “Do not be afraid,” Jesus commands. Sounds brave. Courageous. Bold. I want that; I’m guessing you probably do too.   Photo by NordWood Themes on Unsplash   But we’re human. And some of us deal with fear. How we deal with… Continue Reading

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