Tuesday, July 29, 2008


I lamented to a friend recently that I had been suffering from severe and unpredictable mood swings - sudden, intense bouts of irrational weepiness and irritation. I expressed my concern that perhaps these short-lived, erratic waves of moodiness were indications of the onset of menopause.

"Absolutely! Menopause can definitely cause mood swings. Have you considered hormone therapy?" Interpreting my blank look as a "No," she promised to bring me a magazine article that would shed a little light on the topic.

The article examined a variety of menopause-related symptoms, one at a time, and discussed the effectiveness of hormone therapy in treating each particular symptom. I eagerly read the first page: Is hormone therapy prescribed to alleviate mood swings? Does it provide effective relief? Does hormone therapy produce any undesirable or negative side effects which should be considered? I turned the page. What about pain and stiffness in joints? Oh!, I thought, is joint pain a byproduct of menopause too? I thought the aching in my hips and knees was just a sign of middle age! What about disruptions in sleep patterns? That's related to menopause, too? What about forgetfulness/memory loss? What about decreased energy levels and a tendency to become easily fatigued? The article went on for several pages, discussing a myriad of menopause-related symptoms that I had simply dismissed as natural consequences of growing older. Although my current financial situation eliminates the possibility of my seeking relief from any of these symptoms through prescription hormone therapy, I was encouraged by the thought that perhaps in a few years, most of my present discomforts and physical complaints might abate somewhat on their own. Post-menopause is starting to look really good! In the meantime, I'll just have to grit my teeth and face this next lovely phase of the female life cycle sans "anesthesia."

I was surprised to learn that so many of the seemingly unrelated things I am experiencing are in fact related to a common cause - the change in my body's natural hormone production. Because I'm entering menopause, my body's temperature control is completely out of whack - I go from the fiery furnace to the deep freeze in a matter of minutes, and torment my family by dominating the thermostat. Because I'm entering menopause, I fall asleep face-down at the table at one o'clock in the afternoon, but find myself wakeful and restless in the wee hours of the morning. Because I'm entering menopause, I take the front steps more slowly, unsure when that right knee will scream in protest. I fumble for words, and grow frustrated trying to recall familiar names.

But even the yucky aspects of menopause serve as a reminder of the life I'm called to as a child of God. Chemicals in my body affect my eyes, my bones, my moods, my thoughts. Likewise, the grace of God which is mine through Christ should impact my life in a thousand seemingly unrelated ways. Because God has been merciful to me, I can back off in traffic and not be offended by a rude or aggressive driver. Because I am His, I can delight in the beauty of a hawk keening and wheeling in the thermal drafts high overhead. Because I am His, I don't have to defend myself when confronted by a loving friend about sin in my life (thank you, Shannon!). Because I am His, I am free to laugh out loud at the exploits of Winnie-the-Pooh, or to weep when Peter and Susan say good-bye to Narnia for the last time. Because I am His, I don't need to fear for the future, or live with crippling regret about the past. Because I am His, I can make the journey through menopause, considering it an adventure filled with opportunities to see more of my need for Christ, more of His sufficiency to meet all my needs.

This is a glorious life, orchestrated by an awesome and magnificent God. I pray that each day, each trial and each joy, will bring with it a fresh revelation of His grace . . . even through menopause, without anesthesia.

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