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Starve a Crush Club

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It was two summers ago. The lazy mid-day warmth of Colorado June filled the window-framed room at our local library. The chilly air of Spring was behind us.

My two young daughters sat on daisy-shaped stools, enraptured in the branch’s weekly toddler time. Contented smiles adorned their faces as their chubby hands clapped along to “If You’re Happy and You Know It.”

I sat in the back of the room, my hands deliberately folded in my lap. Motionless. I didn’t feel so happy.

My thoughts gravitated to my marriage.

Emotionally, it had been a difficult Spring. The responsibilities of work, church, and parenting held a strong grasp on my husband Ted’s attention. And whether reality agreed with me or not, I’d come to feel neglected, unnoticed, unloved.

That morning I was experiencing the pain more acutely.

My gaze wandered around the room, studying the other parents as they clapped along with their kids. It was then that I noticed a 30-something father with his two small sons.

Something about him caused my gaze to linger.

Later, as I buckled my daughters into their carseats in our minivan, my thoughts returned to this stranger.

That’s when concern set in. I realized what was happening. The seeds of a crush were attempting to take root, and my fragile emotional state provided fertile ground. I felt my resolve to keep my heart steadfastly faithful to my husband wanting to waiver.

Snapping back to my senses, I made a decision. No more toddler time—at least for now. I didn’t know if this dad were a regular or not. It’s possible he wouldn’t be there the next week or the week after that, but I was unwilling to return to a situation where a crush had the potential to develop.

The Married Ladies Secret Crush Club

I’m not alone in noticing a man other than my husband.

During a recent Google search, I came across a blog post titled, “The Married Ladies Secret Crush Club.” In it, the blogger recounted a conversation with a “happily married” friend who confessed a secret crush on a co-worker.

“Is this normal?” her friend ventured.

“Of course,” the blogger replied, going on to share her own married crush history. She then suggested they start a secret club.

Here’s where many people would cue the laugh track. But not me. Instead of mustering up a giggle at what was intended to be a humorous post, I was left wondering if this light-hearted banter was as harmless as it seemed.

I’ve experienced the tug of temptation on my heart’s affections, and it didn’t feel harmless. Because of this, I just can’t bring myself to give a Facebook “like” to blog titles such as that one. Or a similar one I came across: “Crushes help, not harm marriages” from a blog ironically named the Divorce Lawyers Guide to Staying Married.

Um, yeah.

Both these posts reflect how popular culture views what’s been termed “married crushes.” In general, they’re regarded as no big deal. In fact, other recent discussions on the topic in popular magazines, lifestyle shows, and blogs encourage crushes, as long as they’re kept within the “fantasy” realm. And these are the ones our culture applauds as knowing their stuff.

In the midst of applause for crushes, what’s an individual like me—who wants to guard against even the hint of a crush—to do?

The Not-So-Secret Club

I’d say that starting a Married Ladies Secret Crush Club isn’t the answer. But how about some other kind of club? How about a “Starve a Crush Club,” its goal to encourage myself and other married women not to feed crushes, but to starve them.

And as with any good club, I’m thinking a few practical rules apply.

Rule #1: Be Honest. Those same experts I’ve criticized for affirming crushes also make an insightful observation. Dr. Robi Ludwig, who encourages married women to “enjoy” their crush, stating “secret crushes, when not acted on, are safe, sexy yet simultaneously ego-boosting,” also points out that infatuations are more about the crusher than the crushee. He writes that “having a crush is really less about the other person and more about us having the feelings we want to have, i.e., like feeling alive, excited, exciting and beautiful.”

That resonates with me. After that day at toddler time, for example, I got honest with myself, asking deep questions. Why do I feel drawn to this man? Is there a need or desire I’m trying to fill in an inappropriate way through noticing this dad?

Turns out, I desired the attention I perceived as lacking at home. The problem was that a crush wasn’t the appropriate answer to this legitimate need. Instead, a proper response was to talk directly to Ted and work through it with him.

Rule #2: Be Accountable. This article is the first time I’ve talked publicly about that day at the library. When I wrote my previous article, I was too ashamed to mention it, so instead I focused on a resolve to starve crushes. I venture to guess that many married women share my sentiments of shame. But it’s helpful for married women struggling in this area to tell a trusted, godly female friend about the crush.

While it’s important to pick someone who won’t condemn or ridicule, at the same time she needs to be an individual who’s not afraid to discourage the crush from continuing. Don’t choose a friend who’ll just dismiss the issues of your heart as “normal.” And, of course, don’t choose a friend who’d suggest starting a “Married Ladies Secret Crush Club” with you.

In “The Married Crush,” Cameron Courtney—a single woman who developed a crush on a married man—shares the difference that confiding in a trusted friend can make.

I noticed a funny thing the next time I saw George. I didn’t feel so alone and outnumbered by my feelings and George’s presence. Somehow Abby was there with me asking the tough questions and bringing our shared values into the picture. Talking about the crush had taken away some of its power over me.

Accountability is powerful. It’s a lot harder to feed a secret crush when it’s not so secret.

Rule #3: Be Willing to Run. That June day in my minivan, I ran away from a potential crush. I quickly fled.

In her book Girl Perfect, Jennifer Strickland talks about this concept of “fleeing.” She remembers how she and her now-husband Shane practiced purity before marriage:

After our dates, he would give me a quick kiss good night, then quote the one word from Scripture that saved our relationship: “Flee!” Then he would turn around and go home! It always made us giggle—it still does—but it worked.

I believe this same approach—of applying Paul’s instruction in 1 Corinthians 6:18 to “flee sexual immorality”—can be like water on the developing flames of a crush. It was for me.

Because married crushes are considered harmless by some experts, I’m confident there are a good number of women who scoff at the concept of these infatuations as sexual immorality. But as hard as it may be to swallow, from a biblical perspective, they are.

The thing is, the relevant biblical principles are clearly laid out in Matthew 5:27-28. Here Jesus says, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Lust, defined as “to have a yearning or desire,” isn’t always sexual in nature. It can also be an emotional yearning for attention. And isn’t that what a crush often is?

Committing to flee from lust, even in its most innocuous-looking forms, can, like it did for Jennifer and Shane, save a relationship.

Crushes Aren’t Inevitable

I learned a valuable lesson that day at our local library—that, as Rich Mullins once penned, “we are not as strong as we think we are.” No one is immune to developing a crush. Not even me. Marriage alone doesn’t protect women from it. But the good news is that through honesty, accountability, and the commitment to flee, I’ve come to see that crushes aren’t inevitable.

A lot has changed since that June morning. Now when I reflect on my marriage, I no longer feel neglected, unnoticed, or unloved. While I do have the occasional day I long for more attention, it’s not a defining characteristic of my relationship with Ted. We have successfully navigated through that difficult season.

And every once in a while, I think back to the dad at the library—thankful that he is nothing more than a reminder of my determination to always starve a crush.

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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.

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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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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 Club

by Ashleigh Slater time to read: 6 min
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