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Starve a Crush

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Five years, one month, and twenty-something days ago, I walked down the aisle of a century-old church and committed to forsake all others for the man standing beside me at the altar. There, I publicly proclaimed the days of schoolgirl crushes to be behind me.

As a new bride, I determined that from then on the only man who’d make me weak in my knees was my husband. And that even on those days when I didn’t swoon in his presence, my heart would still remain steadfastly faithful to him.

Now, after living through the reality of in sickness, in health, for richer, for poorer, for better, for worse, in sadness, and in joy, I remain rooted in my belief that my romantic affections are to be undivided.

I realize to some this may sound idealistic.

The thing is, I’m not naive enough to assume that as a married woman I can’t be tempted to turn my attention elsewhere. That there won’t be days when the grass may appear greener next to a man on the other side of the fence. But I’m wise enough to know I need to be on guard against actually doing so. I know that entertaining butterflies in my stomach at the sight of a man other than my husband isn’t something I should readily add to my list of hobbies. After all, many a tragic divorce began with fluttering…bugs.

Unsurprisingly, not everyone thinks this way though.

My convictions may very well be out of date in our feel-good-at-any-cost culture. I was reminded of just how unhip my thinking is while thumbing through the pages of a Fall issue of Parents Magazine. In it was an article titled, “Secret Mommy Crushes.” Its main point? Writer Reshma Memon Yaqub argues that not only is it considered perfectly normal for a married woman such as myself to develop a secret crush, but experts actually believe indulging these fantasies can be beneficial to marriages. The article states:

An innocent crush can actually enhance your marriage, says Dr. McCarthy [a sex therapist and the author of Getting It Right the First Time: Creating a Healthy Marriage]…. “The healthiest kind of infatuation is one in which you use the idea of the guy you have a crush on as a way to bring more passion to your relationship.”

Yaqub goes on to affirm the harmlessness of crushes, pointing to the payoffs women receive. She writes:

Sure, we’ve become older and wiser, and we’ve settled down with men we love and children we adore. But even the most blissfully partnered woman is susceptible to the occasional schoolgirl crush. And, say moms, these crushes—ones that you certainly never act on—are harmless, providing a harried, tired caregiver with a bit of an ego boost.

While I don’t have unrealistic expectations that our popular culture holds marriage in the same esteem I do, I honestly wasn’t expecting a parenting magazine to celebrate and even encourage married women harboring and feeding crushes. No matter how innocent they appear to be. Let alone tell me that “fantasizing about a hunky fireman, mooning over TV’s Dr. McDreamy, or flirting with the guy who pours your coffee may actually make [my] marriage hotter.”

I remember the first—and only, I might add—time my husband Ted confided in me that he thought Condoleezza Rice was sexy. It was three months into our marriage and let’s just say, it didn’t go over well. Despite the fact I knew nothing would come of the attraction. The truth is, I had no desire to share any of his affections with another woman. I didn’t even want her occupying one millimeter of his brain. Unless it somehow had to do with some government issue that he was fascinated with despite her involvement. For me, attraction toward any other woman was unacceptable. Case closed.

And as someone who doesn’t believe in double standards, I don’t view it as acceptable territory for me either. Even if it’s a so-called innocent way to feed my ego. Even if it does offer a quick escape from trips to the grocery store, sticky fingerprints on my favorite jeans, and dish-worn hands.

It’s not that I don’t understand the desire to feel good as a woman. I understand it perfectly. It’s natural to want to be affirmed. For me, one word of encouragement from Ted goes a long way. Simply telling me, “You look pretty” can make my day. But just because I don’t hear these words on a daily basis, doesn’t mean I need to look to develop a “secret crush” on another man to fill that need. Rather, on days when I’m not feeling appreciated and loved, I have an opportunity to find out where my hope and security ultimately lies.

Is it in my relationship with Ted? Or is it found in Christ? Because if it isn’t found in Christ, then I’m more likely to buy into the logic of Parents Magazine. I’m more apt to look for a confidence boost through harboring affections for, as the moms in the article confessed to, the guy who works at Starbucks, the Brink’s delivery man, America’s television hero Jack Bauer, or even Anthony on The Wiggles.

When it all comes down to it, the problem with this article isn’t that as women we want to know we’re valued and that we’re something other than wives and mothers. Nor is it the fact that we may be tempted in this area. Temptation will come. As Jenny Schroedel says in her article, “Caught in a Crush“:

If we can recognize that our weaknesses are simply part of the larger package of being human, we might be better able to cope with them. Sometimes when we have unsaintly thoughts, we’re tempted to berate ourselves, to say things like, “How can I possibly be having such a thought. I’m a horrible, wicked, person— more worm than human, in fact!” These thoughts don’t liberate. The don’t heal. They stink. They keep us in a small, stuck place, because they’re not about God, they’re about us.

So while we do need to flee the temptation to long after a man other than our husband, we don’t need to beat ourselves up over it. Instead, we need to realize the true problem with articles such as this is the message of where we’re being told it’s acceptable to find this affirmation.

Looking for it in a fantasy, rather than working to make my marriage better without it, is entirely self-serving. And excusing it because it somehow impassions a marriage is not something I should be quick to justify, no matter how many experts may support it. After all, marriage isn’t simply about me and what I get out of it.

While marriage can be incredibly fulfilling, God didn’t create it to simply make me feel good about myself. He designed it to be an earthly reflection of the relationship between Christ and His bride. A chaste relationship that’s intended to illustrate sacrifice and unconditional love. A place where two people become willing to put the other’s needs above their own.

Which means, as a wife who seeks to glorify God through my marriage, a secret crush isn’t something I should entertain.

My family’s been battling sniffles and coughs this past week. Nothing like a touch of sickness to bring to mind that old maxim, “Feed a cold, starve a fever.” Next time I’m tempted to start fantasying about a man I’m not married to, this week of illness will come to mind, along with this new wives’ tales: “feed a marriage, starve a crush.”

Ashleigh Slater is the editor of Ungrind. As a wife and stay-at-home mom, she enjoys moonlighting as a freelance writer, proofreader, and editor. Her writing has appeared in print and online in publications including Marriage Partnership, Thriving Family, MOMSense, Brio, Brio & Beyond, Guideposts’ Angels on Earth, Focus on the Family Magazine, Radiant, Campus Life’s Ignite Your Faith, Focus on Your Child, Clubhouse, Jr., Small Group Exchange, and Sunday/Monday Woman. She spent five years as a media critic for LinC (Living in Christ): Youth Connecting Faith and Culture and two years writing music reviews and artist bios for All Music Guide. She graduated from Regent University with a M.A. in Communication. She currently lives in the Ozark Mountains of Missouri with her husband Ted and four daughters.
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Ashleigh Slater is the author of Team Us: Marriage Together and the editor of Ungrind. As a regular contributor at several blogs and websites, she loves to unite the power of a good story with biblical truth and practical application to encourage others. She has 20 years of writing experience and a master’s degree in communication. Ashleigh lives in Atlanta with her husband Ted and four daughters. You can follow her on Instagram here.

1 Comment
  • Susan

    GREAT article! It’s refreshing to see someone stand amid the confused and misled people in the world and hold up a directional sign. Many won’t follow, some will be angry, others will laugh or roll their eyes. But they can’t change or try to warp truth. Putting Christ and fidelity and chastity on the top of your list makes everything else easier. It also keeps you FREE! No guilt, no lies, no hurting loved ones, no secrets, no self loathing, no immorality or adultery, no sneaking around, no covering your actions, no hiding texts and phone calls and emails, no catching STDs, no worry, no regret, no anger or distrust or revenge. (I know what I’m saying – been there, done that. Absolutely horrible.) Living as Christ taught is true freedom. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and observations.

Articles

When Doing Justly, Loving Mercy, and Walking Humbly Stand at Odds

If your compassion far exceeds your capacity, here’s one way you can be sure to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly.

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One of my life verses is Micah 6:8, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

It is one of my favorite verses because my heart has been so moved by the love Jesus has for me and the sacrifice He made for me that I am grateful to have a way to express my gratitude through acts of justice and mercy while walking humbly with God.

I have found at times, however, the call to do justice and love mercy come in conflict with the call to walk humbly with God. For me, one of the ways to walk humbly with God is to recognize my limitations. I have to put skin to the fact that I am not God which means saying, “no” to ministry requests. It means going to sleep when I could be spending time advocating for the harrowed and helpless in the world. It means limited seats at my table, limited funds in my bank account, and limited energy in my body cannot be ignored but respected and adhered to.

This is hard for me at times, especially when I scroll my Facebook feed and see friends who are caring for their really sick children, spouse, or other family member all while millions of refugees flee war torn countries and babies are slaughtered by the hundreds each day in our country through the abortion industry.

As I scroll, I receive texts about one family member’s surgery gone wrong and another family member announcing a new baby is on the way. I have in mind my neighbor who has inpatient surgery scheduled this week and another neighbor who is trying to hold down a full-time job, care for twins all while battling profound “morning” sickness.

Folks at church are fighting for their lives in physical and spiritual ways, and strangers who pass me on the road are clearly battling something as demonstrated by their impatient honking because I won’t take a right turn on red. I want to meet the needs of all; I want to do justice and love mercy, but I’m daily confronted by the fact that I am so limited.

What am I to do when doing justly and/or loving mercy seem to come in conflict with walking humbly with my God?

God keeps bringing me to this answer: prayer.

God invites us to cast our cares before Him because He cares for us.
God tells us to be anxious for nothing BUT WITH PRAYER present our requests before Him.
God commands us to pray without ceasing.

And, when I walk humbly with God, I see the immense kindness in His command.
He gives us a way to do justly, love mercy WHILE walking humbly with Him.
It is by praying without ceasing.

I cannot take a meal or give money to every sick person or family I know. I cannot extend kindness to all my neighbors all at the same time they’re in need nor conjure up sustainable solutions for the refugee crisis and contact all the necessary world powers to make it happen.

I cannot heal all, but I know the Healer.

I cannot provide for all the needs, but I know the Provider.

I cannot rescue everyone in need, but I know the Rescuer.

I cannot comfort all the broken, but I know the Comforter.

I cannot speak peace over every situation, but I know the Prince of Peace.

I cannot be all to all, but I can go to the Great I Am through prayer, lay all the people, problems and pleas for help before the Omniscient and Omnipresent God of all Creation.

I can do this through prayer.

Recently, via an Instagram contest of all things, I came upon A–Z prayer cards designed by blogger/author/speaker, Amelia Rhodes. It is a simple concept packed with a powerful prayer punch. It has served me personally in this tension of wanting to do far more than I practically can do. It provides prayer prompts starting with each letter of the alphabet along with a scripture that coincides with the prayer focus. It ranges from Adoption to a creative “Zero Prejudice” for the letter “Z.”

The cards are well thought out, color printed on sturdy cardstock with blank lines for the user to write in the names of people and/or organizations that are personal to them.

If, like me, your compassion far exceeds your capacity, pick up a set of these prayer cards and unload your burdens onto a God whose competence matches His kindness, both boundless.

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Articles

Facing Our Fears in Motherhood

Do you have fears tied to motherhood? If so, here’s encouragement for you.

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“Are you scared?”

I was taken aback by his question. Scared? Of what?

“Of anything,” he answered.

I had just shared my due date with a new class of trainees.

“He has three boys,” another new hire volunteered. So fear is to be expected, I reasoned. I’m just about to face the most frightening experience in my life.

Of course I was scared.

I was scared…

  • I’ll lose my temper.
  • I’ll whine about sleepless nights.
  • I’ll breastfeed too often or not often enough.
  • I’ll leave piles of unfolded onesies in the middle of the nursery floor because I’m too tired (or lazy?) to fold teeny-tiny baby clothes for the upteenth time.
  • I’ll go with disposable diapers when the better choice would be cloth.
  • I’ll work too many long hours at the office and miss precious moments with her.
  • I’ll sign her up for too many activities and push her to become Miss Achieve-It-All.
  • I’ll pass on to her my ugly pride, self-righteousness, and perfectionism like a dreadful contagious disease.
  • I’ll miss countless little joys in life while pursuing worthless dreams.

Facing Our Fears in MotherhoodIn short… I was afraid I was going to fail miserably as a parent.

And now, holding my second-born daughter in my arms, thinking back on that brief exchange just a few years ago, I realize those fears were well-founded. I’ve failed many times. I’ve lost my temper. I’ve raised my voice. I’ve worked too much and played too little. I’ve seen my own sinfulness reflected in my daughter.

Yes, I’ve failed, but over and above it all, God’s grace has covered my parenting imperfections and made me run to the cross day after day. The writer of Proverbs puts it this way:

Whoever fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge.
Proverbs 14:26

When it comes to fears, we have two choices: Will we fear the unknown or will we fear the Lord? Will we allow the uncertain to grip us in its clutch or will we turn to God’s Truth to set us free?

Scared? Oh yeah. There was so much to be scared of that day. And even now, if I’m completely honest, there are still fears nibbling at the edges of my consciousness. Fear that we won’t outgrow the temper tantrums. Fear that the two girls won’t get along. Fear that I’ll mess them up and cause them interminable hours on a psychologist’s couch.

I’m sure you have fears, too.

But rather than allow those fears to consume and paralyze us, we can take them to the Lord, acknowledging His sovereignty over our parenting, pleading His grace over our mistakes, and entrusting His provision over their futures. He is not only able to handle it all — He is far more capable to be trusted with it all.

If I say one thing to that frightened 9-month-pregnant me standing in that room years ago, I would say this: Don’t let fear rob today’s joy with tomorrow’s unknowns. Each day has enough worries of its own (Matthew 6:34).

Instead, let us keep seeking God, running to Him as our secure fortress and resting in the knowledge that He will care for us and our children one day at a time.

What are you scared of today? Name your fears and bring them to the Lord, allowing Him to replace them with His peace that passes all understanding.

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He Gives Shade To The Weary

If anxiety is a struggle for you right now, remember that He gives shade to the weary.

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Do you ever have those moments of fear because you don’t know what lies ahead? When do those thoughts tend to happen to you?

For me, most of those thoughts happen when I lay my head down to sleep at night. The vulnerability comes forth every time. That’s what happened the other night to me. I shut my eyes and immediately anxiety welled up inside me.

What if we don’t succeed in this new venture? What if we have to move? What if we can’t pay our bills?

I laid there with the covers drawn tight over my head (I still think that I am safer if the covers are over my head), praying scripture over my anxious heart. Assuring myself that God sees me and that He cares.

In the morning, I turned to Isaiah 41, specifically verses 10-20.

“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10, NASB)

Yesterday, the “what if’s” piled up as I anxiously looked about me. My daughter needs tutoring, however at this point in life, tutoring feels like a luxury we can’t afford. So I listed some items online to sell hoping to make just enough to cover the tutoring. I’m buying groceries on a Visa reward card. I’m holding my breath until the next paycheck comes. But what did God speak over me: Do not fear. Do not look anxiously about you.

“For I am the Lord your God, who upholds your right hand, Who says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’ Do not fear, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel; I will help you,” declares the Lord, “and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:13-14 NASB)

Why shouldn’t I be anxious? Because God will hold me up. God will help me. When I first read the word “worm” as a description, I took it as a slam against Israel. Like, gesh, God. What animal does He relate me to? But through further study, He calls them a worm because worms are helpless. They are viewed as insignificant, despised and weak. God will help me — seemingly insignificant, helpless me — because He is my Redeemer. He is my go’el — my next of kin. The Redeemer is the one who provides for all my needs. Rent. Car payment. Credit card bill. Gas. Food. Clothes. Debt. God will redeem.

He Gives Shade to the Weary

“Behold, I have made you a new, sharp threshing sledge with double edges; You will thresh the mountains and pulverize them, And will make the hills like chaff. You will winnow them, and the wind will carry them away, And the storm will scatter them; But you will rejoice in the Lord, You will glory in the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:15-16 NASB).

God is transforming me from a helpless one to a powerful one. The description of that type of threshing sledge is like a modern day earth mover. Powerful. Strong. Immovable.

“The afflicted and needy are seeking water, but there is none, And their tongue is parched with thirst; I, the Lord, will answer them Myself, As the God of Israel I will not forsake them.” (Isaiah 41:17, NASB)

He will come to our rescue. God, Himself, will answer you and me. Can you hear how personal that sounds? Have you ever pleaded with someone important whether your boss, public figure, or even a parent, and they responded to the need themselves? You expected for them to send their assistant, but instead they — the most important one — responded to you.

“I will open rivers on the bare heights And springs in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water And the dry land fountains of water. I will put the cedar in the wilderness, The acacia and the myrtle and the olive tree; I will place the juniper in the desert Together with the box tree and the cypress.” (Isaiah 41:18-19, NASB)

This passage describes the wilderness-like times in life. You are barren. You are thirsty. You are hot. You are in need. God will provide what you need. God will quench your thirst. He will provide shade when you are weary. During those times, God can provide in creative, innovative ways. He can provide something out of nothing. Doesn’t that give you great hope? Even when you can’t answer how He will do it, He is creative enough to figure it out even when the odds are stacked against you.

“That they may see and recognize, And consider and gain insight as well, That the hand of the Lord has done this, And the Holy One of Israel has created it.” (Isaiah 41:20 NASB).

God will do all of this so that His glory will be put on display. People — including yourself — will see that He is powerful.

So you can see how after a night of wrestling with fear and anxiety, reading this was like shade and water for my soul. God is a god who sees. And God is a god who acts on your behalf.

What do you need His help with today? What are you fearful about today? What keeps you awake at night? Where do you need some shade?

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Hi, I'm Ashleigh Slater, founder and editor of Ungrind. Here at Ungrind, it’s our goal to churn out biblically-based encouragement for women. We strive to be honest and transparent about our struggles in a way that inspires hope, faith, and perseverance.

As you read, we hope you consider us friends, the kind you feel comfortable sitting across the table with at the local coffee shop. You can read more about me HERE and our team of writers HERE.

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Starve a Crush

by Ashleigh Slater time to read: 6 min
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