Marilyn Kirkpatrick is the Women's Ministry Director at First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida. She is married to Mark and has a daughter and a grandchild. Her passion is to teach the Word of God to women in everyday life application.
When I entered the world of “womanhood” as a young teen I remember feeling overtaken by mood swings and emotional outbursts. It was like I was possessed; I was crying for no reason, sad and anxious, and filled with frustration and anger that seemed uncontrollable.
What was happening to me?
It wasn’t a demon, just puberty. My mother handed me a big box of the paraphernalia I apparently would need now and told me to read the books enclosed. If I had questions, I could ask her (yeah, right!). I remember my brother walking away shaking his head. I now wonder what he thought was happening to his little sister (I never asked him).
As I grew up my emotional swings seemed to level out. I didn't have the fits of anger, but I still experienced the crying for no apparent reason throughout my monthly cycles. I was glad to have outgrown these unpleasant experiences . . .until they returned about 35 years later.
Controlled by hormones?
When I first began to again feel these inward fits of emotion I chalked it up to just “having a bad day" here and there. Then the bad days seemed to come more often than once a month. I decided that the problem wasn’t with me. It was the other people! If they would just behave and be very aware of my moods and treat me "special," we would all get along fine. "Everybody just REMAIN CALM," I would think. But for no apparent reason, I would go off on those around me, usually those closest to me. The frequency of my outbursts of anger increased and then I began to feel changes in my body. Someone would adjust the thermostat and I would be burning up; ten minutes later I was freezing. The covers would go on and off all night long. I remember talking to my sister once about what I was experiencing. “It’s as if you could kill someone and not even care," she said jokingly. Yes, that was it. Murder did not seem impossible!
What was happening to me?
I finally decided that I could no longer deal with my uncontrolled body and emotions so I went to see a doctor. After the blood work results came in, she said, "I don't know why you haven't killed somebody or you are not in a corner babbling.” (I told her that I knit to keep from killing people and I do sit in corners babbling—isn't that normal—to talk to yourself?) She proceeded to show me how all of my hormone levels were "out of whack."
I never imagined that leaving the reproductive years of womanhood would feel the same as entering them. I had come to that great stage of MENOPAUSE. The impact of hormones exiting my body seemed to take me over as much as when they entered. I felt so out of control. Thankfully, with my doctor’s help, some bio identical hormone therapy (all natural) and some vitamin supplements, I am now back to "normal". . . whatever that means.
Controlled by the love of Christ.
My changing hormonal levels impacted my body in a way that impacted my emotions. The first time I experienced this change, I was not a Christian (poor people around me). The second time, I was. And as a Christian, I had to learn something in the midst of feeling controlled by my hormones: I cannot allow my body, my emotions and my hormones to control me. I needed to be controlled only by the love of Christ, even in the depths of menopause. And God says I can be (2 Cor 5:14, 2 Tim 1:7).
I could not excuse my sinful behavior as "having a bad day." I could not claim that everyone else around me needed to “deal with it” and treat me with kid gloves. I learned that the God who created me created this body and created these hormones. I still had to renew my thoughts, emotions and will, day-by-day, moment-by moment (Rom 12:2). I could not excuse my behavior by blaming it on my hormones. Christ who redeemed me from my sinful self could and would enable me to walk this path of temptation with grace, mercy and control (1 Cor 10:13).
In the worst of these hormonal changes, did I always yield to his Spirit and exhibit a Christ-like attitude, emotion or behavior? No. But I learned to recognize my sin, look to Christ, ask for his help, and rely on his grace amidst the temptation to have a hormonal outburst. The same grace he extended to me at my salvation was the grace I needed to deal with my crazy hormones.
Menopause has now become an avenue for sanctification rather than frustration and despair. Scriptures like Ephesians 2:8-9 and Philippians 4:6-8 reminded me that his free gift of grace can bring me his peace to rule my heart when I cast myself upon him and ask for his help against my flesh. Because I have been justified by faith, I have peace with God and have been ushered into this grace to stand firm no matter how these hormones make me feel. I can hope that he who controls the world can once again rule me with his loving grace (Rom 5:1-2).
There is hope and grace even in MENOPAUSE.