When I am about 10 days away from starting my, you-know-what, that war between rationality and emotional upheaval ensues. We women simply cannot help it. If you’re like me, those 7-10 days leading up to what we casually call our “period”, can take a normal, everyday person and turn them into a lip-biting, don’t-hug-me-one-more-time, deep breathing, where is my wine? kind of woman.
It ain’t pretty.
It’s that dreaded third week of our cycle. The one that decides that our hormones should be in charge and our wits decide to leave for a one week vacation. It’s exhausting, and can be quite the trickster.
In Stasi Eldredge’s book, “Becoming Myself” she has a few things to say about this time in our lives.
In the third week, if no embryo was fertilized, our brains signal estrogen and progesterone to vacate the building. Emotions slide a little bit. Blood sugar levels slide too. We aren’t feeling our confident selves as easily. For a few day, the empty space created by the departing hormones leaves many women feeling empty as well. This is not the ideal time to have a large gather in your home.
She goes on to give a little bit of advice.
Dear sister, if you haven’t practiced this, please chart your cycle. Make notes in your calendar each month so you know where you are. Look up, and take note of the signposts. You’re not lost; you’re in your third week, that’s all.
Okay, that cracked me up and I have remembered it ever since I read it. It gives me grace. I can sigh a sigh of relief and say, ‘I’m not crazy. I’m not going to stay feeling like this. My hormones have abandoned me and I am in my third week.”
Still, it’s not an excuse. Well, it is, but I try not to use it.
Yesterday morning I woke up and I just “felt” it. I counted quickly on my fingers…day 20. That explains it. I can even tell my husband, “Look, I’m in week 3. I’m trying very hard to be nice, but I just need you to know that everything between us is just fine. Just don’t hug me so much.” We laugh. But, he knows I’m serious.
Even though the hormones rage, I still have to submit to God. Even though I want to let the firestorm of aggravation lead the way through the house, I realize I am nearly 42 and maybe I should calm down.
So, I get out my journal and write. I type in spite of the crazy running and yelling outside my door. Kids being darling kids that I want to toss outside for the day but can’t because it’s 45 flipping degrees in the middle-to-end of March!
My journal entry today was this:
I say Yes to You, even when my emotions say, “No, stay in your room and be crabby.”
I say Yes to You, even when my emotions say, “Throw in the towel and drink before noon.”
I say Yes to You, even when my emotions say, “Leave the house for a hours and let the kids fend for themselves. You’ve bought plenty of food! They can totally live for a day!”
I say Yes to You, even when my emotions say, “You’re a mom of four for the past sixteen years, not much to offer to the world.”
I say Yes to You, even when my emotions say, “You’re not strong enough. You’re not influencing anybody.”
I say Yes to You when everything flies and rages against me, against us. I will choose Truth and stability.
But, we convince ourselves, regardless if we are in our third week or not, that our emotions, our feelings are our reality. They aren’t our enemies, but they also aren’t our boss, or Lord.
My emotional reality can be squishy, unstable and difficult to maneuver. It even tries to convince me that this is the way it is; that I am unpredictable and that life will always be hard to stand on. They can confuse us and make us feel like there is not really a solid foundation.
We must move past that. Even when we feel like we can give no more, or that if one more person speaks to us that our heads will explode, we must believe that we have a more solid foundation under the chaos of our emotions.
Managing through our emotions can only be possible when the spiritual ground we walk on is stable.
It’s a game, no doubt. One we must play. And even when our hormones win out, even when we cannot control our tears or our anger, they do not define us.
What’s real is God and His Word. I mean, no matter what we go through, no matter how squishy and unstable we feel, underneath the emotions, the tragedy, the flailing of hormones, the day to day, in and out, motherhood, work, kids, marriage, friendship, under all that goes into those is the truth that we really do have a firm place to stand.
We must not be deceived by the squish of our emotional upheaval. It threatens to make us feel like we really will fall down. Then we start to struggle with fear and panic. We grasp for control. We close our eyes for fear of falling down. Our ankles nearly break from trying to hold our balance. Our arms flail, trying to stablize our world.
Breathe. Pause a moment. Take some inventory. See where you are in your month. Rest in the few seconds you have the power to create and sit there. You have the ability to shut down the world around you for a few minutes. Use it. Stop and focus. Look down at your feet. They are actually standing on something firm. We’ve been duped. We’ve believed our precious emotions call the shots and we feel out of control.
And that is why it is so important to know Who you believe, and what you believe. Know Who God is. It was Christ’s prayer for us toward the end of His life in John 17.
Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people, that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.
The old hymn really is true. “On Christ the solid rock I stand. All other ground is sinking sand.”
The third week. The emotional upheaval, the grief, the pain, the bad news, the loss..whatever it is, when you feel unstable and out of control, wobbly and tired, remember…
You are on solid ground.