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Allison Althoff
Allison Althoff
Natalie Lederhouse
Natalie Lederhouse

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November 3, 2009

The Monthly Visitor

Why I’m grateful for the intense sadness that accompanies my menstrual cycles.

I’m grateful for my period. And not just because it proves the possibility of new life and distinguishes me as a woman. I’ve actually become thankful for the emotional instability that sensitizes the handful of days surrounding my menstrual cycles.

For the first years of my period, I noticed few symptoms of pre-menstrual syndrome. But I remember sitting alone in my dorm room my freshman year of college and crying about—literally—starving children in Africa. Even I was caught off-guard by the experience. My period started three days later.

I’ve continued to grow more emotionally fraught around the time of my period. Much of my emotional instability during this time feels pathetic and can quickly become embarrassing. It’s hilarious, actually, as I like to think of myself as laid back, secure, self-actualized. I suppose there’s benefit to having that mirror shattered on such a regular basis.

But present within my spectrum of extreme emotions is sadness. Just sadness. And sometimes this sadness isn’t disembodied or irrational. It’s appropriate sadness: sadness for things and situations that deserve to be grieved.

As much as I wish I weren’t this way, my MO is generally out-of-site-out-of-mind. I’m present where I physically am; I think about the people I see and physically interact with; my mind is on my most immediate surroundings. I forget people and situations with which I don’t closely or regularly engage. But there’s this reliable time when I feel sad, and my sadness has a way of drawing my mind to places where sadness fits—and usually places outside of myself. It’s not always as abstract as Starving Children in Africa. I find myself reflecting on difficult family situations back home and weeping over them, or I’ll remember friends or even friends of friends who are suffering illness and fear, and I sit and feel sadness for them, imagining being in their shoes.

Now, this reflection and grief occurs alongside me breaking down in frustration and tears when my husband, Chris, says he’d prefer to stay home and get some reading done rather than accompany me to the grocery store. BUT—easy for me to say, I know—I’ll take the whole package. As I’ve begun to find the true sympathy in this cacophony of feelings, I find I’m ushered into deep communion with my God on behalf of others.

Paul tells us in Romans 12:15 to “rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn.” He uses these simple symmetries to emphasize our true existence as a body—the body of Christ. Though we go through our own days on our own legs, we are, as Christians, intimately linked with every other redeemed creature, and as humans, with humankind. In this chapter, Paul gives many examples of how we’re to live as the body—and how we are to live with even our enemies. I typically read this string of commands as service opportunities—ways to benefit someone else, ways to live in the power of Christ.

But I think Paul’s challenges are for our own good as well. The truth is that identifying with others in our various emotions—and may I particularly emphasize pain or grief—is not only an act of service to the subjects of our sympathy. In grieving with those outside of us, we’re doing the life-giving work of connecting ourselves to a body so large and diverse that we’re sure to find a home there. When in my sadness I sit and pray in solidarity with another, I’m not sitting alone anymore; I’m joining myself with other lives. This work of identification, as difficult as it might be in the tumultuousness of womanhood, can truly edify and minister to the body—our own selves very much included.

How can we use the particularly delicate time surrounding our menstrual cycles to minister to others? How can we lasso benefit from our spectrum of emotions? Each woman experiences this time differently, and I’d love to hear your unique reflections.

Related Tags: Ministry, Women's issues

Comments

How well-timed this article is for me. Just yesterday I found myself in a similar experience, crying for the parents of special needs children and children suffering from health issues. I thing it's wonderful to embrace this aspect of our womanhood, a monthly emotional state we usually see as a burden, and turn it into a blessing. A time we can be broken for others. I just pray that my emotional "moments" carry out into continual action, prayer or otherwise, during the remaining days of the month!

During this time every month, I find myself extremely frustrated with everything around me, like nothing goes right at all. Also, for some reason, I get the "dropsies" around this time, tripping over stuff, miscalculating a door and running into the frame with my shoulder, and dropping and breaking stuff - for no reason. This just makes me more frustrated. And what does frustration do for me? Makes me pray for peace of mind, for calm, for patience. Then in a few days, when it's all over, I look back and laugh at myself for how ridiculous I was. Then I start dishing out apologies to my family like they're going out of style!!!

Thanks for sharing the article and the thoughts. I feel the monthly visitor has always brings pain keeps me frustrated for the coming 5 -6 days.

Thanks for this timely article . I found myself too weird at times and I am blaming it to myhormones. But I am glad I am not alone in this struggle. I was one time attending week end retreat. I felt embarrased becaue I couldn't stop tears flowing like a stream while I was stating my point to acertain issue .I hate seeing all eyes were glued on me, I 've been too emotional over some social justice but in my regaular days I am not like that.

Thank you for this. I'm 41 and my time is now much more emotional..to the point where I've asked for medication to prevent me from ruining my friendships. Thank you for bringing it up with a spiritual perspective. Next time, I'll just be grateful at how womanly I'm being!! :LOL:

I too have not had my monthly visitor for 10 months, but my emothions at times still get the best of me. I often find myself crying and praying for every woman to have a more closer and meaningful relationship with Jesus. Then again I also find myself crying for no apparent reason.

I do remember though many times when I would get my period, I justified my out-of-whak emotions by it and instead of trying to keep them in check with the help of the Holy Spirit I would say "oh well, its just a part of being a woman!" But I've found that just because I am a woman it doesn't mean I can neglect the Holy Spirit's help when I need Him.

Thank you Sarah... great post!

What a great way to look at PMS! I am really grateful that I read this article. I am usually so sad and annoyed at everything to even think of the good I could do with my emotions. You've definitely given me hope during that time of the month. :) Thank you!

I've learned that PMS unearths those things I spend the rest of the month burying. Between the cycle and the night terrors that come in times of stress, I'm learning to attend to things in the daylight (and in the luteal phase) that need to be attended to. Now in my 40's, I'm finding my pre-period days a little less teary and a little more, well, angry. I'm not just sad that girls are burned out of their school in Afghanistan, I'm furious. I'm welcome the emotion, but am trying to remember that I don't have to act on it right away, at least, not until my "friend" comes!

thanks for your article. have learnt a lot. my monthly visitor almost get me soo moody and forgetfulness. that whatsoever i get hold off i misplace it and find them after the days are over.but with your article will learn to pray against such during my visiting days.(being moody and forgetfulness) because it affects almost everyone and everyhting around me.

What to say about all of this? We accept or not that we have to endure this or not. I sought to find out why women murder lterally before the monthly menses. We have been on a journey here at femme internationale. "Now the endocrines have for their task the maintenance of the chemical composition of the blood. They pour into it their secretions called hormones in certain balanced proportions. If the balance is in any way upset, either by an overplus of one secretion or shortage of another,profound changes in metabolism take place. The whole of the life processes are regulated by the endocrines and can be speeded up or slowed down in their different aspects as the balance of the endocrines alters.This endocrine balance is known by physiologists to be intimately associated with emotional states and especially with the alertness or stolidity of the temperament.The change affected in blood chemistry is immediately followed by a change in emotional tone. It may become over-emotional, depressed, apathetic or irritable." The build up of oestrogen in the physical it's effect is mainly depressive. Notice how you feel after when the other hormone progesterone is introduced. Since our Heavenly Father says He has a plan for our lives a plan for our welfare and not evil I am positive it is not He who wishes all of these issues in our lives. We need to be aware of the attacks of the enemy of souls at this particular period. Also hormone experimentation was carried out on women in Auswitch. Germaine Greer described the Pill and HRT as "experimentation under the guise of standard medical practise"It could be we have been advised to ignore her because she is inclined to feminsm? We have tried to produce literature for the modern women to enlighten her of these issues. We send it with a silent prayer that God will bind the enemy and help us to consider the facts and sad experience of other women. Regards

hi sarah
thanks for writing this. my PMS woes did not begin till i met my husband - and for a long time, each PM conincides with fault-finding with him! the poor chap. he was eager that i get fized ! i considered spiritual warfare, saw a doctor and spoke to mature women...all to little avail. it seems a cross i have to bear - but it has alerted me to many sinister possibilities that i must beware of. trult it's a season for ehightened spiritual alertness at every level and at the same time to slow down and rest more in my Father's loving lap. thanks again.

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