On our "Who We Are" page, we have indicated that we are all women in the "afternoon" of life, i.e. we are all forty and older. There are unique challenges to every season of life, this one included. Often, when I was a younger woman with small children, I figured this time of life was probably really great because I could go to the bathroom with the door closed and not have to worry about what chaos would ensue. The grass is always greener, isn't it?
As we move into our forties, things are changing, more so for some than others. Every woman is unique in when these changes occur, but one thing remains true: women begin to experience significant physical changes. At times, they can be difficult. We find that we suddenly have a bulge at our waistline or on our backsides, and whereas when we were younger we could get rid of a few pounds when we wanted, now it is difficult. We find our sleep patterns interrupted, our moods too changeable, our minds fuzzy, and our bodies may feel like they're being incinerated from the inside out.
There are also lifestyle changes, such as parenting teenagers, living with adult children, or watching them all move out on their own, rendering our once busy homes silent. We may juggle becoming grandparents with aging or dying parents. At the same time we may feel like our bodies have betrayed us, along come these stressful lifestyle changes. It can leave us feeling overwhelmed.
I have been reading a book called When Your Hormones Go Haywire. It was highly recommended to me, and I have found it instructive to note how the hormone fluctuations can play havoc with other things like the serotonin and dopamine. Fluctuations in estrogen can exacerbate stress, which interferes with those "happy" hormones, which then aggravates other symptoms like hot flashes, insomnia, mental fuzziness, and anxiety. This nasty little cycle is frustrating, because in our heads we want to be rational and self-controlled, but sometimes, our emotions don't want to co-operate.
We as Christian women do not want to blame our conduct on our emotions, but neither do want to ignore the reality that physical symptoms affect how we think and react. What we want to do is recognize when our emotions may be taking over, discern what is fact, and then think right, biblical, thoughts about our situation. I've had occasions when one of my children has said something that has caused me to become teary eyed, and I have had to stop and ask myself if, on another day, the remark would have passed by, unnoticed. It is frustrating to feel like we cannot control our emotions when previously, it wasn't such a challenge.
We can take heart that the way we are designed as women is under God's sovereign control. Just as God was in control of those beautiful times when we bore children, He is in control of our bodies as they wind down that season. We need to have a proper understanding who God is before we can understand who we are, and that extends to all seasons of life. Psalm 102:25-27 tells us this:
Of old you laid the foundations of the earth,In complete contrast to God, who is immutable, we are changeable. As Elyse Fitzpatrick says in her book The Afternoon of Life, nothing in creation is static. We are created in His image, but we are not unchanging nor are we self-existent. He can be trusted in all circumstances because He has ordained them for our good, even these changes in mid-life. This is where solid theology becomes crucial. What will I rely upon as I venture into this time of life? Will I become obsessed with trying to avoid these changes? Will I fight and flail against the inevitable in an effort to feel like I'm in control? Or will I shelter myself beneath the wings of a God who is unchanging and who is in perfect control of everything going on in my life? If I don't know these things about God, they will not help me. I need to know Him.
and the heavens are the works of your hands.
They will perish, but you will remain;
they will wear out like a garment.
You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away;
but you are the same, and your years have no end.
This blog is not just for women in mid-life. Younger and older women alike daily face challenges specific to where they currently live. Just as I, at 47 years of age, need to have solid theology to be a strong woman of God, so does the woman who is 17, 27, 37, 57, and so on. We hope that women of many ages will be encouraged by what we share here. We have all been young mothers, and while we may not know how to install a car seat properly any longer, we remember the unique challenges young women face, and we desire to encourage in any way we can. What all women share, though, is a need for solid theology because right living begins with right theology.
We are excited to share where we have been, what we're learning now, and how we long to grow more and more into the likeness of Christ.