Sometimes, grace blooms in the unlikeliest of places, springing up like a surprise lily near the end of a hot, dry summer.

Surprised by grace

As I may have mentioned a time or two in this space, my so-called child-bearing years lurched to a halt at the ripe old age of 41.

This transition, if you want to call it that, was early but not totally unexpected. Years of ever-worsening physical and emotional symptoms predicted it, and a blood test confirmed it was coming.

But still, I wasn’t ready for it. I didn’t know anyone else who had walked a similar path, and I felt alone and unprepared.

I also had a choice to make.

I could forgo replacing my depleted hormones with something else and soldier on naturally. Or, I could do what medical experts often recommend for women my age and use hormone replacement therapy, at least until I reached a more normal age for menopause.

At first, I resisted the second option. I wanted to be strong. I wanted to be among those women I read about who “experience no symptoms” of menopause.

Oh, how I wanted that.

But I wasn’t one of them. While I no longer struggled with all the twists and turns of the hormonal roller coaster I’d been on for years, it quickly became evident that this latest season of my life was not going to be a picnic, physically or emotionally.

So, eventually, I went to the doctor and got a prescription. But instead of using it, I stuck it in a bathroom drawer and hoped the coming months would bring improvement.

They didn’t.

Instead, they brought fear.

I was afraid that, if I tried the medication, it wouldn’t work. I was afraid that it would work, but that I’d have to get off of it for some unforeseen reason. I was afraid of the side effects. I was afraid of what people would think. I was afraid of what I might be setting myself up for, health wise, in the future if I used it.

I was afraid. But I was also very hot. At night, mostly. In a way that disrupted my sleep almost to the point of nonfunctionality during the day. After not sleeping for what seemed like the entire month of January, I’d had enough.

And I wasn’t the only one.

With Randy wholeheartedly cheering me on from the sidelines, I conjured up every ounce of courage I had and started using the medicine.

Within an hour, I felt like I had been totally and completely unwound.

I knew I had felt bad before. I was exhausted, overwhelmed and irritable. I felt dry from the inside out, like I had been wandering around in a desert for years with nothing to drink and no springs in sight.

But I didn’t know just how bad I had felt before until I felt better. If you’ve ever been treated for some kind of nutritional or chemical imbalance maybe you can relate to what I’m saying. It just felt like something had been set to rights inside of me, that I had been recalibrated back to something in the vicinity of normal.

This type of treatment has it pros and cons. It’s expensive. There are side effects. It doesn’t work well all the time, at least not for me.

But I’m not the only one who is affected when I am not functioning like I should be. My girls and husband need their mom and wife to be as mentally healthy as possible, so I do it for them, as much as for myself.

That said, as I hinted at the beginning, this post isn’t really about replacing my hormones. Not in my mind, anyway.

It’s about grace.

The grace that was extended to me during those wilderness years when I was often less than lovable.

The grace I need to show myself when I think about all the precious mothering moments I didn’t fully appreciate because I was so tired, foggy and irritable.

The grace that God showed when He, finally, allowed me to be unwound.

The grace that I now try to extend to other people who look—or act—like they’ve been exhausted for a very long time.

My medication is not a permanent solution. I don’t know what life will look like when my doctor tells me it’s time to do something else. But rather than worry about that, I choose to look at each relief-filled day as a gift.

When bad days come, as they sometimes do, I look forward to the next good day. And when I’m in the middle of a good day, I remember what life was like before, and I try not to take how I feel now for granted.

Lois Flowers

One more thing … The Song of the Month for September, which will go live next Sunday, ties in to today’s post. If you are not a regular subscriber of Waxing Gibbous, now would be a good time to follow the blog so you don’t miss out. Or, you could just come back on Sunday and read the rest of the story.

P.S. I’m linking up this week with Grace & Truth, Kelly Balarie at Purposeful Faith, Jennifer Dukes Lee at #TellHisStory and Holley Gerth at Coffee for Your Heart.

14 Responses to Unwound

  1. God’s grace is always enough, isn’t it? If only we would grab hold of that grace and let it be applied lavishly – to ourselves, and to others in our lives who need it as desperately as we do. Thanks for sharing with us at Grace & Truth!

  2. Thank you for sharing so openly. I can relate. My issues are depression and anxiety, but much of what you described sounds so much like me. It’s easy to feel alone too because most women don’t talk about these things. I’m hoping our courage to talk about it will give others the courage to open up too.

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Elizabeth, I have to admit that hitting the “publish” button on this one took more guts than usual, but I’m glad I did it! I appreciate your comment, because I agree completely. The root causes of our struggles may be different, but the way they play out in real life–not to mention that horrible feeling of being the only one–are universal. Thank you for stopping by … and for letting women like me know we are not alone!

  3. Stephanie says:

    Lois, I love this post. We beat ourselves up so much. We try so hard when God says rest. So thankful for the grace He extends.

  4. Grace. I’m so thankful for grace! I can relate to needing grace when I’m unlovable due to hormones. It is so good when we can turn it around and extend that grace back to others. And, like you pointed out, FEAR can keep us from what is best for us. Thanks for your post!

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Judy, after reading your comment, it occurred to me that maybe fear can also keep us from extending grace. Hmmm… that’s definitely something I’m going to chew on for awhile. 🙂 Thanks so much stopping by today!

  5. Linda Stoll says:

    Lois … what an excellent piece today. My peri-menopausal years almost killed me, literally. I’ve never been so sick in my life with depression and anxiety, lyme disease, you name it.

    I never saw it coming. It took years to recover from.

    But somehow God redeemed it, big time.

    I see Him doing that for you. Your sharing will impact others …

    Bless you, friend.

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Oh Linda, I’m sorry those years were such a struggle for you! I’m so thankful–for both of us–that God does indeed restore! Thank you for your encouragement, and for sharing this bit of your story … it’s comforting to know others who can relate so well.

  6. Christi Gee says:

    I was so drawn into your story, as I know this is before me. The fear you describe. Yes. That’s me.

    And the grace you describe? Yes, that’s me 🙂 I need it more than anyone. Love this tie-in and this reminder.

    And from getting to know you through your beautiful words these last few months, it’s hard to imagine you “Wound” ~ thanks for the honest look into more of you 🙂

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Christi, you may feel you need this kind of grace more than anyone, but I have a feeling you also are quite good at extending it to others! And as always, thank you for your encouragement … this type of post makes me a bit wobbly in the knees, so your words are greatly appreciated!

  7. Mary Geisen says:

    Thank you for your reminder of grace today. Too often we take matters into our own hands and believe that we are capable of fixing everything on our own. My experience when I do that has always been a train wreck. I’m so glad to be visiting you from #RaRalinkup and I understand your story very well. Blessings!

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