As far as I can tell, I’m not as impacted by hormones as many women. Sure, I get a few cramps and can be a bit cranky at a certain time of the month, but it’s usually nothing to write home about. But things have been a little different of late. Because I can’t breastfeed my period returns quite soon after giving birth, and thus my regular cycle returned when my infant was less than four months. And PMS has suddenly found a new hold on me, it seems. Last week I spent nearly three full days feeling like I was looking at my whole life through a dirty window… And spent my prayer times leafing through David’s psalms of lament about bleakness. I felt miserable.
A few years back my wise mom gave me some great advice about how to handle the blues that hormones can bring. She said: “When you’re feeling low (because of hormones), it’s natural to look for reasons you feel bad. You go searching for things in your life you’re dissatisfied with, and it’s not hard to find them. You can get yourself all bent out of shape about them… But don’t because they’re not the real culprit; you just feel bad because you feel bad. Realize that and let it pass.” I’ve stopped and thought through that pearl of wisdom more times than I can count, and it’s helped me discipline myself to not let my mind and heart delve into unhelpful territory at a time of hormonal upheaval.
This past week as I wrestled and prayed through my bad-mood days, I was faced with the temptation to find and dwell on faults of my husband’s. He isn’t, you won’t be surprised to learn, perfect (as we all aren’t) and thus faults are there to be found if I go digging for them. In God’s grace, I happened upon this passage from the great Elisabeth Elliott:
“If you are a very generous wife, you may perhaps allow that your husband lives up to 80 percent of your expectations. The other 20 percent you may want to change. You may, if you choose, pick away at that 20 percent for the rest of your married life and you will probably not reduce it very much. Or you may choose to skip that and simply enjoy the 80 percent that is what you hoped for.”
Talk about true… and brilliant. I resolved to carry that 80-percent perspective through my week, regardless of my emotions, and God blessed the effort.
Thank God for my mothers – my real one and other mothers in the faith like Elisabeth Elliott – to encourage me when hormones rage, causing battles of the mind and heart to be waged. I do have the capacity, hormones be damned, to choose my thoughts and allow the storm to blow past. God gives us a “spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline,” and, as I was reminded this week, there’s no better time to use it than on the emotional roller coasters our hormones can fuel.