Two things I know for certain as I begin this week:
1. My emotions and the feelings attached to them aren’t reliable; they are ever-changing.
2. God and his Word are reliable; they never change.
In regards to number one, I’m in menopause … an induced menopause due to my ovaries being removed. Forget the 5-6 years of perimenopause experienced by most women prior to the full onset of menopause. There’s been nothing gradual or measured about my introduction to this new phase of life. Eight rounds of chemo forced my body into a medical menopause; the oopherectomy (ovary removal) following the chemo sealed the deal.
What does that mean? The estrogen/progesterone that my body once produced because of the ovaries have now been eliminated. In addition, the adjuvant course of treatment I’ve been prescribed, Armidex, works to prevent the remaining estrogen in my body (mostly produced by the adrenal glands) from growing. Confused? Maybe this will help. According to EMedTV:
“Arimidex is part of a group of medications called aromatase inhibitors. Aromatase is an enzyme found in various places in the body. These enzymes help produce estrogens (in particular, a certain estrogen called estradiol). In postmenopausal women, most of the estrogen in the body is made by aromatase. By blocking these enzymes, Arimidex helps to decrease the amount of estrogen in the body.
Many breast cancers are sensitive to the estrogen hormone, meaning that the tumor grows with the help of estrogen. When a tumor is sensitive to estrogen, it has receptors on the outer surface of its cells. Estrogen fits into these receptors like a key opening a lock. When this connection is made, the cancer grows.”
So … I think it’s fair to say that my emotions and the feelings attached to them aren’t reliable in this season. My body is constantly playing tricks on me, and my reactions are often either “off the charts unreasonable” or “completely unavailable.” There seems to be little middle ground between these extremes as I recently wrote about in this post. My precious friend, Judith, tells me that (as cancer survivors) “We don’t have the bandwidth that we used to have, Elaine.” She’s right. I don’t currently have the range of frequency with which my body can operate effectively, nor the transmission capacity I once had.
For example… a precious lady approached me in church recently, obviously upset as indicated by the tears pouring down her face. She was in deep, emotional pain and desired to share that pain with me. I was mostly with her up until the point that I needed to “feel” for her. I knew what my reaction should be, but my empathy had a difficult time catching up with my should. When this happens, my compassion becomes functional, not felt. For some folks, this is a typical way of handling the issue of another’s pain. For me, this a huge departure from the way I’ve always operated. And friends, I don’t mind telling you that this is a tragic loss for me. Perhaps one of the most costly surrenders I’ve had to make in this journey through cancer.
I don’t tell you this to garner your sympathy. I tell you this solely for educational purposes, so that if you’re someone who is going through the same thing or you know someone who is going through a forceful, immediate menopause, you might better have an idea as to the “goings on” behind the scenes.
All this being said (and I realize it’s a lot to digest), all is not lost. Which brings me to number two—my second certainty regarding my upcoming week (really regarding my life). God and his Word are reliable. They never change. They are the consistent underpinning of my heart and life, my walkabout in faith. Regardless of how my emotions are or are not presenting themselves on a daily basis, God is presenting himself as he has always presented himself.
Truthful. Reliable. Strong. Steady. Certain. Fixed. Constant. Unchanged.
Who God IS and everything that he has said about himself in his holy Word is, in fact, reality. The same God who cradled Eden’s soil in his hands and fashioned Adam in his image, is the same God who cradles us, shapes us, and breathes over us his holy validation. The same Jesus who cut through choppy waters and walked his peace on top of those waters to a boatload of fearful disciples, is the same Jesus who walks to us in the middle of our darkest nights to extend his hand of kingdom courage as ministry to our doubting souls.
Creator God, Savior Jesus, Companion Holy Spirit, cannot be anything other than what he has always been. Others have tried to make him less—tried to box him in and call him by another name—but their attempts at renaming him are futile attempts at control. And really, when personal control becomes an issue, then truth becomes relative—easily shifted by the changing winds and temperament of the individual involved.
Still and yet, God does not change, and it is this one reality, this one certainty that keeps me moving forward in my faith. Keeps me digging into the treasure of Scripture to take hold of truth, even though my feelings lag behind my obedience. God’s Word is my anchor, my hope, my “go to” resource as I navigate these strange waters of this new season. In its entirety, it doesn’t feel like it should, but it’s my reality.
The temporal reality of menopause. The eternal reality of God.
In the end, it’s the number two certainty of my season that will trump all others. God doesn’t ask me to ignore the other realities that are present and pressing … just to temper them with the greater reality of his presence. In doing so, my bandwidth increases, and I am better able to engage with the life that he has entrusted to my care.
Whatever temporal reality is staring you in the face today, I pray it tempered by the truth and witness of our living Lord. Spend as much time with him examining eternal truth as you are spending looking into the mirror examining temporal truth. In doing so, your bandwidth will increase and your perspective will regain proper focus.
Lose yourself within the truthful, reliable, strong, steady, certain, fixed, constant, and unchanging God who created you. The Jesus who saved you. The Holy Spirit who sustains you. The Truth that renames you…
As always, peace for the journey!