I was reading a post and comments on her.meneutics about Christians and menopause. It suggested that women find somewhat older women to help them through this stage of life. Of course the comments were all over the map, from grateful to totally unsympathetic. Fine, people in third world countries don’t seem to have a problem with it, being busy trying to keep food on the table. Someone seems to have forgotten the hierarchy of needs theory. The point is, we are here, and it is worth talking about if it happens to affect you.
So, since my whole point for being here is to share whatever God gives me, I’m willing to talk about it. Now one of the suggestions was to find an older woman as a mentor to help you through the process. One observation though, was that the baby-boomers may approach it quite differently, so that may not be helpful. I’d have to say, that depends a lot on the personalities involved, perhaps more than the generations. I think I hit perimenopause at about 45, when I had a major panic attack/health crisis. My kids were about 4 1/2 and 8 at the time, so it had nothing to do with the empty nest experience. I’m simply not there yet. But what I got from that period was the realization that first, I needed to listen to my body and rest when I needed to rest, instead of always trying to push through the exhaustion. Second, I needed to find out why my emotions were suddenly a problem, when I had for some time operated mostly on an even keel.
Now it would have made sense for me to get some form of counseling at that point, but I simply couldn’t see how to fit it around child raising. No one ever said having late in life kids would be easier. So instead it became a sort of round about journey which became more about God than about me in a couple of years, when I decided to return to the family camp/retreat that I attended as a child. I had forgotten so much, I was quite unprepared when we began with a sharing time where we talk about why we have come, what we need and what we would like God to do for us. Whoa, I thought this was for my kids, and when was the last time anybody cared what I needed? Moms do tend to put everyone’s needs above their own.
But the thing was, just being there made me feel somehow like I had an open line with God. I had not felt that in a long time. But it was as if I were 19 again and I could talk with God and He would answer, sometimes in words and other times in impressions, or songs or fragments of verses that would come into my mind. The speakers at that camp fed my soul which felt like I had been starving for years, even though I went regularly to church. I ended up making a sort of commitment to go and do whatever the Lord wanted, which I think was an extension of what I had been praying about two years before, just prior to the upheaval. That had to do with wanting to move into some form of ministry, besides the music that is like breathing to me, but I just felt that there was more to me than that.
Okay, so I wondered if I was to somehow move into missions or something, given the way the call had sounded. But the husband and kids were not on board with that, so I didn’t move anywhere. Instead I pulled my oldest out of school to see if I could do any better with him at home and began the most tumultuous year of my life. The homeschooling felt rather like swimming upstream, but every month or two some other complication appeared. There was a new acquaintance who seemed to raise all sorts of issues. My mother had a stroke on Christmas, which raised all sorts of family issues with my siblings, not to mention depriving my of one of my primary supports, and giving me additional tasks as a sandwich caregiver. And somehow in the process of it all, it seemed that my siblings, my closest sister in law and even my best friend were all mad at me.
Through it all though, I was talking with Jesus more than I had in years. A lot of it was of the “how could you do this to me” variety, but we’ve always had an honest relationship. And the next summer, He led me into an amazing time of healing, just between the two of us. Of course it didn’t mean my hormone driven emotions would automatically settle down. But when my mom died the next spring, I was able to handle what I needed to do, and sing her praises at her service.
That was followed by a year in which two of my friends moved away and both of my kids’ best friends also moved. But I think because I was now trusting the Lord in a much deeper fashion, I was more able to help them. And I think that is the key, really learning to trust the Lord, even when things are coming at you in waves and very little of it is anything you can control. I read somewhere that the people who do the best at midlife are those who renew their religious commitment. I’m pretty sure that was from the secular press, but it is certainly encouraging to find that it seems to confirm our gut feeling that what we really need is to be closer to God.