Don’t Despise the Red Flags

No matter how adventurous you think you are, some situations would simply never happen:

  • You would never drive a rental car up a steep mountain pass and ignore a group of signs declaring, “Dead End.” 
  • You would never see the word “Danger” only to keep cruising around the corner toward the edge of the cliff. 
  • You wouldn’t get angry if park rangers waved their arms in your direction and pointed you to a safer path. Instead, you’d back up your car carefully, even if your hands shook a little every time you looked down, feeling relieved when you finally returned to solid ground.

When we see signs marking a dangerous road, we respond immediately, knowing we need to find a different path. But when it comes to red flags in dating relationships, we don’t always view the warning signs as clearly.

Recognize the Red Flags

If you’re a single woman, you know how intense a Saturday morning debriefing session with friends can be. Single men may be able to spend hours together and somehow leave without knowing that one of them is dating someone new—but women? Well, you know how it is.

You meet up for breakfast tacos on a Saturday morning with one or two of your closest friends, and a few minutes into the conversation, you start catching them up on how things have been going with the guy you’re dating. They know the basics, but you recap how you met and what’s happened the last few times you’ve hung out. Then you slide your phone across the table to remind them just how cute he is.

You’re still fairly new to this relationship, but you really like this guy. You’ve seen so many amazing characteristics in him already, and you’re compatible in ways you’ve never experienced before. You can imagine a future together, and it’s hard not to think about him all the time.

As the waiter refills your coffee, round two begins. Your friends ask deeper questions, and you feel that little prick in your heart you’ve been trying to ignore for weeks. They want to know:

  • What is his relationship with Jesus like?
  • Is he involved in his local church?
  • Have you been concerned about anything related to his friends, his job, or his dating history?

It’s up to you to decide how much you say. You could frame each answer in a positive light, but that would defeat the purpose of discussing the relationship with these women you trust. You take a breath and give them the full picture, shadows and all. 

  • He says he’s a Christian, and he’s an incredible guy . . . but you're not sure if he’s actively seeking to grow in His relationship with Jesus. 
  • He goes to church regularly . . . but you know his best friends aren’t believers. He’s mentioned that he hasn’t clicked with his community at church, and he says he’s too busy to commit to serving.
  • He has a great job, and you know he’s hard working . . . but when he gets overwhelmed, you’ve seen him turn to alcohol to release steam and watched him snap at others when he’s stressed. 

Your friends glance at each other, and you can hear them thinking, “Red flag, red flag, red flag.” Long before brunch was scheduled you knew what their response would be.

The truth is that you know there are concerning aspects to your current dating relationship. You know that spending more time with this man isn’t going to erase them. You know what God is leading you to do, but you’re still driving forward, hoping that something will change along the way.

Do you ever ask the Lord to give you clarity on a situation that He’s already made clear? I can go through old journal entries and find places where I’ve continued asking the Lord for guidance about someone I was interested in—even after it had become obvious that his actions and character were not consistent with the kind of man championed by God’s Word. Didn’t the Lord know how much I hoped I’d end up with this guy? Didn’t He realize this wasn’t the answer that I wanted?

Often, our problem is not a lack of information. We know that there are areas of concern, and the Holy Spirit nudges us to not just notice them but to respond. The question is: when the Lord waves a red flag in your direction, will you heed His warning . . . even if it requires you to turn around and take a harder path?

Don't Despise the Red Flags

When we see warning labels on high-voltage panels, at hazardous construction sites, or in restricted areas, we recognize they’re for our safety. We don’t bristle against them, feeling frustrated that they’re keeping us from what we want.

A few years ago, I wrote down one sentence in my journal: “Don’t despise the red flags.” It was an attempt to remind myself that warning signs are meant for my good. If we heed them, we’ll be protected. This is a theme seen throughout the book of Proverbs, where we’re reminded to pursue wisdom. 

For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. (Proverbs 2:6) 

But to be wise, we can’t merely know what is right or wrong; we have to be willing to apply the knowledge to our specific situation. 

If you’re in a dating relationship right now, pray specifically for wisdom. James 1:5 promises, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God—who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly—and it will be given to him.” As God gives clarity, ask Him to help you to respond with quick obedience, trusting that He is able to provide the strength and courage you need to follow through.

“But,” you may be thinking, “what if I’m not supposed to break up with him? What if I’m supposed to show him grace? After all, I’m not perfect either.” It’s wise to take your specific situation to godly friends and mentors and ask them to help you evaluate whether the warning signs are worth running from or if you should address them while continuing the relationship. Surround yourself with women who will hold you to the standard God has called you to and help you navigate the nuances. As Proverbs says, “The one who walks with the wise will become wise” (13:20) and “with many counselors there is deliverance” (11:14).

Let your group of counselors know that you need them to keep you accountable. Admit that sometimes it feels easier to compromise than it is to walk away from what you know is wrong. Ask them to remind you that even when it doesn’t feel like it at the time, clarity from the Lord is kindness and you can trust the path the Lord is leading you down. 

Embrace the Rerouted Path

Don’t despise the red flags. If the Lord has given you clarity about your dating situation, accept His wisdom as kindness. And if God reroutes you, trust that when you look back someday on your choice to pursue the harder path of obedience, you won’t regret following His redirection.

Did you know? Our online resource library here at Revive Our Hearts has a whole section dedicated to the needs and encouragement of single women. Check it out today!

About the Author

Katie Laitkep

Katie Laitkep

Katie Laitkep was working as a hospital teacher when God called her to join Revive Our Hearts as a staff writer. She serves remotely from Houston, Texas, where God sustains her through saltwater beaches, Scripture, and her local church. Katie's … read more …

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