There is No "I" in PMS

"Invite God Himself into your is a blessing to get a monthly reminder to draw near to Him."    

My husband and I often joke about a day early on in our marriage when I was being particularly emotional and difficult (more so than usual) and he just wasn't understanding why. I felt totally unable to articulate the reason to him - mostly because I was being emotional and difficult (more so than usual) - but also because we were newlyweds and still figuring this sort of stuff out.

After going around in increasingly frustrated circles, where I would make vague hints and he would make terrible guesses, I eventually burst out: "LOOK AT THE CALENDAR, DAN!"

That certain "time of the month" was approaching. "Aunt Flo" was preparing to make a visit, as we’d say in junior high. I was about to get struck by a case of "the girl flu."

I've even heard women call this time an "exclamation point." Because the simple punctuation of a period won't do. And then, for many of us, before the exclamation point, there comes an entire paragraph of something else entirely.

I'm talking about premenstrual syndrome (PMS), which is a group of symptoms an estimated 75% of menstruating women have experienced or are currently experiencing in varying degrees. I know I am not the only one who has endured its roller coaster. Yet it seems most women suffer in silence (or complain to the point of being insufferable! Full disclosure: I do both.)

Just look at this WebMD laundry list of symptoms and it should be apparent why PMS can sometimes feel like a curse. Women can so easily let any number of these symptoms have a significant, negative impact on us not only spiritually, but relationally - with everyone around us. Parents, siblings, spouses, friends, children, pets...even complete strangers!

You could say there’s no "I" in PMS; its effects are far-reaching. So I want to suggest a few ways Christians - both women and the men around them - might find specific hope concerning this topic. Here are, coincidentally, three "I's" to think about when dealing with PMS.

Appreciating The Intricacy of it All
The first is appreciating the intricacy of God’s design. When I initially started researching practical ways to help manage my monthly cycle, I saw a lot of suggestions to understand what's happening to my body chemically. And while it certainly is helpful to identify the hormones involved and what they do, even scientists have yet to make sense of the link between PMS and these hormones. They know it’s connected, but not how or why.

I think it has something to do with our being fearfully and wonderfully made.

We need to remember that the God who formed our inward parts and knit us together, who named the stars, and who numbered the hairs on our head, is also the same God who created the complexity of the menstrual cycle.

For whatever reason, there are only a handful of seemingly "calm" days. The rest looks like a rocketing and plummeting cacophony, primed for PMS. But God designed this to be the perfect harmony of hormones.

Consider the course of a woman's life: from a prepubescent 12-year old; to a hormonal teenager; to a fertile adult woman whose womb and body and breasts may change many sizes over, many times over, to accommodate new life; to a perimenopausal woman in her 40's, battling mood swings and hot flashes; to a menopausal mother or grandmother, whose hormone levels have - finally, amazingly! - returned to those of the prepubescent 12-year old.

Now that’s a wild and beautiful symphony. Can’t we marvel at that? Even in the midst of the rocketing and the plummeting? This was a revelation to me: we glorify God when we humbly praise Him, even adore Him for creating these hormones.

Preparing For The Inevitable
Another "I" to remember when thinking about PMS is that it is inevitable. This might seem like a no-brainer (unless you're one of the 25% who hasn't or won't experience PMS) but it took me a decade or so of periods to finally get it. Women: track your cycle, know your triggers and plan ahead. Men: you too.

There are all kinds of helpful apps nowadays that enable easy calendaring and logging of symptoms. I happen to use one called "Clue" that has helped a lot. My husband and I are both mentally prepared for what's coming, which seems to minimize outbursts related to me yelling at him to look at the calendar.

But in all seriousness, just like any other chronic pain or condition, the cyclical nature of PMS should not be used by women as an excuse to be moody for a few days or weeks every single month, just because we don't feel well. We must not let it inhibit our obedience to God or our love for others.

I know this is easier said than done. I KNOW. Sometimes my PMS seems like a magnifying glass and a megaphone for all my brokenness, all my sin, all my weaknesses. Even with my handy app, there are months when I don't pay attention and I don't watch for the triggers. I let the littlest things get to me. I'm mean to my husband and my kids and I slip and fall.

And those days just keep coming. But Proverbs 31:12 says, "She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life."

As impossible as it sounds, we should rejoice in the inevitability of PMS. For it offers us a regular, repeated, monthly opportunity to depend on God...and to crawl on our knees to Jesus when we've failed miserably.

Viewing It As An Invitation
The last "I" we can look at when considering PMS is to view it as an invitation. I mean this in a few ways. My husband wasn't truly aware of what I was going through each month because I wasn't telling him. Friends won't know a woman needs help if she's always putting on a false front. We must be open and honest, and invite accountability from those around us.

Furthermore, if symptoms have shifted or are more intense than usual, it might be time to talk to a doctor. Many women (and families) suffer far too long with PMS when there are some simple changes - and medications - that can make a huge difference.

Also - husbands - what better invitation to love your wives, to care for them gently, to minister to them in a moment of weakness?

" Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish." –Ephesians 5:25-27

Finally, and most importantly, invite God Himself into your PMS. I admit I have, oddly, overlooked this one in the past and it was evident. But like I mentioned earlier, it is a blessing to get a monthly reminder to draw near to Him. It might not be the reminder we want, but in His sovereign wisdom He knows that it is just the reminder we need.

“For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, ‘Fear not, I am the one who helps you.” –Isaiah 41:13