I have a journal titled "Hormones, Homesickness, and the Wall of Overactivity: a Journey Inward." In it are the contents of my heart from October 10, 2014 to February 1, 2015 — likely one of the most difficult seasons of my life so far.
It's the difficult seasons that carry the most potential for fruit bearing in our lives.
Fruit will be borne when we choose to say "yes" to God. When we choose to be victims no longer. When we choose to say "yes" to what He's doing in us through our pain and suffering. When we choose to say, "OK, God, take me through it... because I'm sick of sitting here in my mess, and I can't endure the journey alone."
From October to February, that's exactly where I was — sitting in my mess of hormones, homesickness, and overactivity. Today, I'm writing about the former, and although this blog is based on female points of view and experiences, I think the overarching message will resonate with men as well.
In her book Becoming Myself, Stasi Eldredge writes, "Too many women today remain unaware of how their hormones are affecting their lives — emotionally, physically, and spiritually." Six months ago, I was one of those women.
I'd just moved to a new country, gotten married, and started a non-profit organization with my husband. Talk about a pressure cooker! Once an even-keeled person, I began to feel like I couldn't "get a grip" on my emotions. Despite my greatest efforts to resume control of myself, I'd cry, scream, and throw my body down in fits of anger.
Then one day, my unbelievably intuitive husband suggested that my outbursts may be linked to my hormones. That was probably the worst thing he could've said to me at the time, but as it turned out, he was right. I started to pay more attention to my body and moods, and the evidence was clear. "But what now?" I thought.
Well, come January 2nd, a dear friend gave me a note and a book. The note read:
I've been prayerful for you lately. I'm excited to see God bring to completion the work He started in you and in your marriage. Keep leaning into Him. This book was a good read for me as I sought to find my identity in Christ as His child, His servant, and a wife. I thought a good old-fashioned book swap might be nice. Borrow it for as long as you need. Be blessed and press on.
That book, Becoming Myself, was a game-changer. I realized that all of my life changes were intensifying my hormones. And my hormones were affecting me emotionally, physically, and spiritually. By not "owning" my hormones, my hormones were owning me. And amidst the pressure and pain, I'd allowed a "spiritual drift" to happen. Instead of clinging to grace and claiming my identity as a child of God, I gave way to homesickness (looked like: negativity about Cape Town, my new home) and to overactivity in my work (looked like: spiritual performance).
I've done a great deal of processing, and here are 3 practices that've helped me "own" my hormones:
1. Engage in a physical practice.
For me, this is yoga, journaling, and nature walks. For you, it may be something else. The goal is to do something that allows you to "check in" with yourself and your emotions. Ask yourself, "How am I feeling today?" You may be feeling great, or you may be calling your entire existence into question. Ask God to meet you in those places — in the highs and the lows.
(Oh, and studies show that a consistent yoga practice can actually aid in hormonal balance! If you're interested, there are specific postures that are particularly helpful and calming.)
2. Communicate what's going on to those around you.
It's important for the people closest to you to know what's going on in your heart. I'm an introvert and an internal processor, so I often don't even consider communicating "where I am" emotionally and spiritually to my husband. It's not that I don't want to; I just don't think about it. Now I know that if I'm questioning my existence or feeling homesick, Tony needs to know about it. That way, if tears do start to flow, he's not completely caught off guard.
3. Go easy on yourself.
I'm an activator and a driver. I like to get stuff done, and I like to move projects forward — quickly and efficiently. But I've realized that if I'm having a rough day, I need to go easy on myself. I have to give myself permission to take a midday bubble bath or to go on a walk through the trees. The work can wait. The dishes can wait. The emails can wait.
I hope that you find these 3 practices helpful, and if you're on a similar journey, I'd love to hear from you. Leave a comment on this blog or send me a message.