Read an Excerpt
By JESSIE MINASSIAN
Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2014 Jessie Minassian
All rights reserved.
Those Blasted Butterflies
It all started my second-grade year. His name was Carlos.
I knew virtually nothing about him, other than that he was a really good tetherball player and liked to keep his dark hair high and tight. But he had dimples. The dimples are what did me in. My elementary school–aged heart was all aflutter while I waited in line to play tetherball at recess. I was actually glad when he broke his arm because it meant I got to sign his cast. (How twisted is that?) I noticed whenever he got up to sharpen his pencil, and when his name wasn't called during attendance, I was sincerely disappointed. I don't remember him ever speaking, actually, let alone talking to me. Come to think of it, he may not have known English. But his silence didn't deter me. I was smitten.
Ridiculous, I know. But even more ridiculous is that it didn't end in the second grade. After Carlos came Jordan and Ronnie, Cody and John, Chad, Mirage, Randy, Jake ... the list goes on and on. We're talking double-digit crushes before I even got to high school. It's not pretty.
I didn't know it then, but I was a budding crushaholic. What's a crushaholic? you might ask. Great question. Other than it being a word I completely made up (you'll find I tend to do that), a crushaholic is someone who can't seem to go for more than a couple of months, weeks, or maybe even days without having romantic feelings for someone. And most girls born in the past quarter century seem to fit into this category. Whether falling for a friend from school or smitten with a Hollywood hottie, a crushaholic has a hard time not having a "like" in her life. And those likes usually translate into boyfriends whenever the object of her affection actually likes her back.
To be honest, I went through most of my life not realizing the permanent damage being done to my heart by all those likes and, eventually, relationships. At the time, it seemed so natural and unavoidable to like someone—kind of like breathing, or dying, or blushing when you realize you've just said something completely idiotic. It may have seemed unavoidable and natural, but now I know better. And I hope I can help you see a better way too.
The truth is our crushes are crushing us. We're letting our relationship status define our identities. We're letting guys and society tell us who we should be, and we're bending over backward to become what we think some guy will want. And the weight of all our flitting affections, the broken hearts, jealousy, breakups, betrayals, and let-downs, the longing for someone we can't have, and the scars left from having relationships we shouldn't be in—they're taking a toll.
We're being crushed by the weight of our own affections.
The dating-go-round—the cycle of crush, date, break up, crush on someone else—that seems so natural in our society ends up crippling us emotionally. Unless you break free and are willing to challenge the dating "norm," your heart may be pretty mangled by the time you give it to the man God has for you to marry someday. (Or, if you don't get married, the dating-go-round could leave you with a broken, bitter heart for a companion.) Even more devastating, all the crushes and dysfunctional relationships with guys are stealing our hearts from the One who should be the center of our lives now, today, in this moment.
The good news is there's a better way. That's what this book is all about: finding out that God has given us a way to love that doesn't include letting guys make or break us. The God who made you and delights in you wants more for you than to rise and fall with each passing relationship. I want more for you than that! I'm sure you do too.
I hope you'll be willing to discover that "better way" together by digging into God's Word and taking some time to get to the, ahem, heart of the matter in your own life. My hope for you, as we walk through these pages together, is that you'll find out who you are and how to find contentment in who God is. I hope you'll dream with me about what kind of relationship you want to have someday and figure out a game plan to glorify God with your life in the meantime. And I hope you'll find that it is, in fact, possible to make it through life without getting your heart crushed by the weight of your own affections and relationships with those (mighty fine) members of the opposite sex.
Profile of a Crush
At the risk of sounding painfully elementary, let's tackle first things first: What is a crush, anyway?
The more I've thought about that word, the more curious it sounds. The dictionary defines crush primarily in terms of "pound," "destroy," and "oppress." (Ironic, huh? Not that any of us have ever felt pounded by emotions, destroyed by rejection, or oppressed by other girls who like the same guy, right?) Nope, the puppy love variety of crush gets just one out of nine definitions for the word.
crush \'kresh\ noun : an intense and usually passing infatuation; also : the object of infatuation.
If I could be so bold as to challenge the sacred tome of wisdom also known as Webster's, I'd expect to see a little more ink given to this great plight of young adulthood. I mean, come on now—that's it? What about the butterflies, longing, and sometimes all-around obsession for someone who may or may not know you exist? Show a little empathy, Webby! Besides, I don't know how "passing" most crushes are. Some can last years. But there you have it: the crush. It doesn't matter if you're six or sixty—the chance of being pounded, destroyed, and oppressed by bashful blue eyes seems to remain the same.
Most people will tell you that crushes aren't dangerous. They're pretty much expected from girls as young as elementary school. Our favorite TV stars have them, our big sisters have them, our BFFs have them. "Liking" someone is almost a rite of passage in our culture these days—just part of growing up—kind of like pimples, tampons, and a high school diploma. And why not? Crushes are harmless, right?
I wish they were. Really, I do. The butterflies and hoping and dreaming and scheming can be fun! But after thirteen years of flitting from crush to crush before I wised up, I'm here to tell you that a crush (and especially a crush addiction) can come with serious side effects.
But what's so dangerous about having a crush? To answer that question, we're going to have to ask another one first.
Queens of Hearts
Let me ask you this: What makes us have those crush feelings for guys? Why do we get the butterflies, the sweaty palms, the "please-oh-please notice me" rush of emotions?
Obviously, God made girls and guys to like each other—to be attracted to the opposite sex. (It helps with that whole "be fruitful and multiply" command.) But if you were to go to a guy's slumber party (not that they'd ever call it that), you'd hear a lot less talk about who likes who and a whole lot more talk about the latest first-person shooter game. Why do girls specifically want relationships so badly? Why are we the ones who read romance novels, watch romantic comedies, and dream about romantic walks on the beach? Why can we girls be so obsessed with love and relationships?
I think there are two reasons. First, part of our love for romance is how God made us as girls—how He wired us.
Genesis 1:27 says that God made both man and woman "in his own image." Men and women both bear some parts of His image, such as His creativity and desire for justice. But He also split some of His image between the two of them. God gave some of His qualities primarily to Adam (that is, those qualities we call "masculine," such as strength and steadiness) and some of His qualities to Eve (think "feminine" qualities like gentleness and beauty). To put it another way, Adam plus Eve equaled the complete image of God, or as close as a human pair could come to it. When Adam chose Eve and they became one flesh, they became a more complete human replica of the whole image of God.
One of those qualities God gave primarily to Eve—one of His divine characteristics in human form—is a love for romance. (If you've ever read Isaiah, you've heard firsthand the romantic language God uses to describe the love He has for His chosen people.) In fact, the Bible says that God is love (see 1 John 4:8). And even though guys definitely feel and show love in their own ways, we girls have an uncanny knack for romance. The feeling of excitement and mystery associated with love comes more naturally to us, in general at least. It's just the way God made us.
But there's a second reason girls delight in romance more than guys, and it also goes back to the garden.
I Want You to Want Me
God wanted Adam and Eve to fit perfectly—heart, body, and soul—so He gave girls and guys different roles to play in romance. God knew that Adam and Eve's relationship would work best if they were like two pieces of a puzzle: equal in worth, but different in design. These two pieces, when joined, would fit together like chocolate and coconut, rainbows and dark clouds, tall boots and skinny jeans. So God gave Adam a desire to pursue Eve, to chase and win her. And (here's our part) God gave us a desire to be desired. God preprogrammed each girl to be the one pursued, the one treasured and sought after. We want to be wanted. And that's not a bad thing! (It was part of God's design, remember.) But we have to understand the nature of our desire if we're not going to be owned by it, because that innocent and pure desire to be desired by a man got warped when sin entered the picture.
When both Adam and Eve were operating under God's will and keeping His rules, things were peachy. Adam found his worth in God, pursued Eve, cared for her, and treated her with the honor she deserved. Eve also found her worth in God, was her beautiful self, helped Adam around the garden, respected him, and delighted in his love. They fit. And they were both truly happy.
Then came sin.
I'm sure you know the story. Satan, God's mortal enemy, disguised himself as a snake and got to work deceiving Eve. Satan promised Eve that if she ate the fruit God had forbidden her to eat, she'd "be like God, knowing both good and evil" (Genesis 3:5). And Eve bought the lie hook, line, and sinker. She ate the fruit, disobeying God's clear instructions, and then gave some to Adam to eat. He followed suit, and the rest is a sad human history of sin, pain, regret, and rage against God.
But what does this have to do with a girl's desire to be desired? Well, when Adam and Eve sinned, they received the consequences that went along with disobeying God. Adam's and Eve's roles in their relationship didn't fit as flawlessly anymore. Because of sin, Adam stopped being perfect, and so did Eve. Their stubborn wills began to clash. Adam didn't always pursue or care for Eve or treat her with the honor she deserved. Eve was no longer content "just" to help Adam, doubted her beauty, and had trouble respecting him. And because of the curse, instead of delighting in Adam's love, Eve battled to rule over him. They didn't fit perfectly anymore because sin came between them.
God created us to love and be loved, but our obsession with romance was never His design. Our obsession with being wanted—our over-the-top desire to be desired—is a backlash from the curse. Because of sin, we're not content to wait for love until God's timing; we'd rather take matters into our own hands. God told Eve that because of her sin, "[she would] desire to control [her] husband" (Genesis 3:16). That desire to control creates all sorts of chaos in marriage, but I think it's pretty obvious that it messes things up way before that.
Think about it. Have you ever tried to control a guy's feelings for you? Have you ever dressed to impress a guy, flirted to get his attention, or tried to control the way he acts toward you or others? Is God enough for you, or do you feel you need a boyfriend to be happy? Are you willing to wait for a guy to pursue you—to lead you, the way God designed—or are you set on taking matters into your own hands just to get what you want? (We're going to talk more about a guy's role as leader in chapter 6.)
Our culture hardly helps with this. We're told as girls that we can do anything and be anything and shouldn't let anything stop us from getting what we want. (Don't get me wrong; I completely believe that women are capable and strong and have the same rights as men. But we can't forget that God gave men and women different roles on purpose, for our benefit.) When the curse of sin and the bullhorn of society get together, the sound can be enough to bust our eardrums. We're being told that we're failing as girls if we're not getting our way. Just like in the garden, Satan is hissing in our ears, "You deserve to have that guy like you. Just go get him. Tell him how you feel. Do whatever it takes to make him yours. A guy will make you happier than God ever could."
I get so stinkin' mad when I think about the way Satan twists the truth to deceive us, because when we live our lives God's way, there's so much peace and joy—and hope! But when we listen to Satan's lies, everything gets twisted. We end up confused and hurt and messed up.
I know you want to be wanted by a guy. So do I! All of us girls have a desire to be desired. That's the way God made us. We just can't let that God-given desire get twisted up in Satan's lies. We can't let him convince us we have to be in a relationship to be complete and happy and have a full and delicious life.
So what do we do with those feelings? How can we want to be wanted without becoming obsessed with guys and relationships? To start with, we'll have to get control of our thought life.
Taming the Wilds
We girls are pretty much notorious for how easily we fall for guys. Humor me for a sec and envision this scene with me....
You walk into church and take your seat with your usual group of friends in the fourth row back from the front. Just before the worship band gets up to play, you notice something out of place in the front row—something beautifully, mysteriously, gorgeously out of place. "Who's that?!" you whisper to your friend on your left, pointing to the hotness who has just turned to shake hands with the pastor. Friend doesn't know, but you're not left wondering for long. The pastor takes the stage and introduces him as a guest worship leader for the morning. His name is Benji Lemberg.
Helloooo, Benji Lemberg, you think to yourself.
The first song begins, but you're not really thinking about the words you're singing. (Something about God being everything, yada yada ...) You're a little preoccupied with the sandy-blond hair hanging so perfectly over one of Benji's eyes. There's something about a cute guy ... with a guitar ... singing worship ... that makes a girl forget all reason. He's perfect, you find yourself thinking. He even loves God! Before the first song is over, you've imagined him asking you out. By the end of worship, he's taking you to a romantic dinner. By the end of the pastor's message, Benj (as you now like to call him) has proposed and you're Mrs. Lemberg and you have three kids, a dog, and a beach house, all in your sweet little mind.
Sound familiar? (It does to me. Okay, so maybe that's another true and embarrassing story.)
What is it about us that causes us to fall head over heels for someone we barely know? Maybe you don't fall for guys quite as quickly as I did, but have you ever had feelings for someone you knew crazy little about? Strangely, it seems the less we know about a guy, the easier it is for us to crush on him. Maybe it's because, in the absence of the details about him, we get to fill in the blanks with our imagination. When he's new, or quiet, or shy, we can make him whoever we would like him to be. We think the perfect guy into existence, and right away our feelings for him start ramping up.
Here's the point: Our feelings, including "crush" feelings, come from the thoughts we think. This truth can revolutionize so many areas of our lives! So I'm going to say it again: Our feelings come from our thoughts. Goodness knows we girls have trouble with all kinds of emotions. Sheesh! If we can get to the root of them—if we can pinpoint which lies we're believing and think true thoughts instead—our emotions, and our lives, will be so much healthier.
Philippians 4:8-9 says,
Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.... Then the God of peace will be with you.
If we live these verses, we can, in fact, tame the wilds of our thought life, which will bring our emotions right in line (that's the "peace" part).
Excerpted from CRUSHED by JESSIE MINASSIAN. Copyright © 2014 Jessie Minassian. Excerpted by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
PART 1: HAVE YOU BEEN CRUSHED?, 1,
CHAPTER 1: Those Blasted Butterflies, 3,
CHAPTER 2: He Can't Make You Whole, 19,
CHAPTER 3: He Can't Make You You, 37,
CHAPTER 4: He Can't Break You, 55,
PART 2: FINDING YOUR GUY WITHOUT GETTING CRUSHED, 71,
CHAPTER 5: Is There a Better Way? (To Date or Not to Date?), 73,
CHAPTER 6: Finding Mr. (Im)Perfect, 91,
CHAPTER 7: Becoming Miss (Im)Perfect, 109,
CHAPTER 8: Respect the Fire and You Won't Get Burned, 125,
CHAPTER 9: That Ever-Elusive Contentment, 149,
CHAPTER 10: Have a Vision for an Extraordinary Love, 167,
What People are Saying About This
“God is enough.” This overarching theme ripples through this beautiful book in ways that inspire courage, hope, commitment, and grace. Crushed is honest, practical, realistic, and relevant. It challenges the lies of our current culture with God’s compelling truth and awesome love. Crushed is both preventative and restorative. It is truth in unvarnished and engaging beauty. When God is enough, then we are free to follow His lead, His timing, His plan.
If you’re devastated over a breakupor know someone who is this book is for you! Jessie is the real thing. You can trust her because she really does know about lifeand loveand Godand she really does care about what you are going through. Cuddle up with this book and listen in as Jessie shares gobs of helpful stuff that really will make a difference in how you view yourself and guys.
To date or not to date, that is the question. Jessie answers it and a lot of others as she moves you from being “crushed” to courageous in how you approach your love life.
In a world that speaks lies to women, Crushed is full of truth about relationships and how to trust God with your love life. I wish I would have had a book like this when I was in my early teens! This book digs deep into real issues girls face and how to align our hearts to make God our number one love. A must-read for girls of any age!