PMS with Self-Control…Yes, It's Possible
I hope you find yourself in this comic strip. If you don’t, forget reading the rest of this post. How many days have I walked through this exact scenario? How many months of my life do I have this exact experience and more? …Too many to count!
It wasn’t until my later high school years that I started questioning my attitude and response to my wonderful female “visitor” each month. A typical day during this time would mean extreme irritability, anger-fused conversations with my friends and family, self-pity, low self-esteem, uncontrollable cravings, and just plain meanness.
This pretty much sums it up: living in the flesh with zero self-control.
How did I get so out of control? I used to blame PMS symptoms, hormones, and my body. Then, it hit me: If the Holy Spirit lives inside of me, then my life ought to bear His fruit, which includes the fruit of self-control. Self-control in all of my experiences. Period (pun intended).
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23
When I am in the midst of my hormonal imbalance each month, here’s how I wish this verse were written: “But, for women, especially during that one week of the month, the fruit of the Spirit is irritability, depression, fatigue, impatience, selfishness, fickleness, harshness, and indulgence of the flesh.” Now, wouldn’t that be so much easier for everyone? That’s what I used to think: Lord, my body is out-of-whack, give me a break! For one week, can’t I just do, feel, and say whatever I want?! Clearly, there is a battle going on. In fact, before Paul writes the above verses he explains in detail that the flesh and Spirit are constantly in opposition to one another (5:17-18). The book of Galatians may have been written a couple of thousand years ago, but nothing about our humanity has changed!
The truth is that our bodies are “out-of-whack” whether or not we want them to be. However, there is a greater Truth that empowers us to overcome those emotion-driven reactions. In her book Lies Women Believe and the Truth that Sets them Free, Nancy Leigh DeMoss recognizes that emotions are real, but she wisely points out that “if we cater to our emotions and let them control our actions in these kinds of daily routines, we will be more vulnerable to being controlled by our emotions in the major transitions and difficult seasons of life.” (p. 200)
These “daily routines” include our time of the month. The routine we are familiar with each month ought to give us a fair warning that the time is coming for total dependency upon the King. What a great lesson for us as women! We have something that has literally been given us – not just as a consequence of the Fall – but to teach us to lean on our Abba Father who knows exactly each moment of emotion-filled drama during that week.
What would be different if we chose to start filtering that week through the gospel of Christ? It changed my world! I no longer had any justification for biting someone’s head off simply because I was feeling irritable or the fact that their mere presence was annoying me. I could no longer ignore the fact that the fruit of my life in Christ meant self-control in all areas and all seasons of my life – not just during the times where I feel like it.
May I challenge you during your next once-a-month “visitor” to enter the presence of the King with a spirit that is desperate to let Him control your emotions rather than be controlled by your emotions?
How do we really live this out? I firmly believe it is just like any other spiritual battle in our faith: Identify the lie(s), Cry out to God in prayer, and Cling to His Word. It might go something like this: “Lord, I know my hormones aren’t an excuse to be irritable with my family. Help me respond with a patient spirit and gracious words. I believe that you’ve given me everything I need to obey and honor You – no matter what time of the month!” (2 Pt. 1:3)
We gain absolutely nothing when we live according to our flesh. (Rom. 8:5-11, Gal. 5:24-25). Jesus declares that, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life” (John 6:63). Did you get that? The Spirit is greater than the flesh! I know that I cannot live a self-controlled life in God’s grace on my own fuel, let alone during that one week each month. But I personally know One who is more than capable of carrying me through and working out His power through me (Phil. 2:13).
“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith:
(2 Peter 1:3-7)