Sunday, November 5, 2017

For Women Only (or Not): Riding the Struggle Bus

Alright, ladies. I'm going to lay it out there. Because I'm not a man. Because I do know. Because we're in this together.

Last week I was just. angry. frustrated. irritated. Under-the-skin crawling. At my husband. My children. My mother-in-law. The youth leaders. The people in hallway at church. Which means it wasn't them, it was me.

Here's the hard truth. When "that time of the month" hits, it's not an excuse to be crabby, cranky, difficult, know the drill. When I'm feeling out of sorts, frustrated and angry with the world, it's time to examine my heart. "My heart?" Yes, my heart. Because,

"...the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders." (Matthew 5:18-19)

Yes, hormones may be off and we know everyone else isn't as perfect as we are--but--the problem is not physical. The problem is spiritual. In the book, Blame it One the Brain, Ed Welch says there's a difference between physical limitations and sin. He discusses brain injury, ADHD, senility and Alzheimer's and arrives at the conclusion that they do not cause sinful behavior, but they may remove inhibitions. In other words, what's going on in the heart may be exposed as a result of physical injury, change or dysfunction, but physical infirmities do not create sin. They simply reveal our heart and desires.

May I walk out on a limb and say the same is true of us? Our hormonal, physical state may remove some inhibiting forces and expose what is really going on under the surface of our normal, everyday machinations. What that means is that the change and flux is not an excuse for misbehavior, but an opportunity for sanctification. It's an opportunity for me to examine my heart: what makes me angry? Why am I angry? What do I really want that I'm not getting right now? What's happening in my thoughts? Why?

It's also an opportunity for me to depend more and more on Jesus Christ. How many times do I cry, "Help me, Lord," or "I need you," or "I was wrong. You are right."

And, last week, as I struggled and wrestled and prayed I was afraid of the future, of that l-o-n-g period of time when everything's up for grabs and life is difficult. But I was reminded that will be yet another opportunity to lean on the Lord, to learn humility and exercise grace. It is not a "valley of the shadow of death," but a mountain to climb.

If you are a man that wants to share this with a woman--be careful. Don't (if you value your life, peace, and the pursuit of happiness). Instead, pray. Wait. Love. Extend grace. Encourage. And, as the Lord allows, He will work His perfect will in her life. Because guess what? It's your struggle-bus, too. It's your opportunity to be sanctified, to experience being out-of-control, to see what's in your heart. So read it again. Because guess what? This is for all of us.

So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it...

In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. (Romans 8:16-29)

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