For All Those Experiencing Hot Flashes and Other Imperfections of Life
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured… so that you will not grow weary and lose heart (Hebrews 12:13–NIV).
Engulfed in sudden heat, I throw off my covers in frustration.
Turning over in the bed, sheets stick to my sweaty form as I reach for my phone, which lies at arm’s length, charging on my bedside table. The sudden burst of light from its awakened screen causes me to squint as I, still in sleepy haze, attempt to read the time.
Dang! 4:04 AM.
Irritated at being awake again, knowing I only have a couple more hours before my alarm sounds, I look begrudgingly at my sleeping husband. Truth be told, he’d be more than happy to help me through the moment but, in honesty, I know my motives aren’t pure as I catch myself thinking, Men-o-pause? Ha! Men never suffer hot flashes. He has no idea what I’m going through. Thus, I consider texting him instead, knowing that such correspondence won’t likely wake him but at least offer proof of my impending demise in the morning, as I’m certain I’ll perish in the ensuing inferno.
But what to text? Given my present state, I consider a simple emoji message–the one of a flame, as well as the red-faced one with the black tape bearing “&$!#%” over its mouth. (Yes, they exist–at least on iPhones!) After all, these animated symbols will offer clues when Bill wakes–the approximate time and cause of my death timestamped on his phone. But as I lay there, I find myself wondering, Who have I become?
I drop my phone down a little too hard in both exhaustion and anger, then search for the coolest spot on my pillow before determining it’s on the opposite side. Turning it over, I punch it a couple times for good measure, then attempt sleep again.
Finally, I drift, having survived one wave only to be washed over by another an hour later–my hormones reminding me too many times throughout the night that my body is at war with itself. Without sleep, should I survive until dawn’s early light, I’m afraid of who I’ll be in the morning.
And it’s then that the lies of the enemy are loudest. There, in the silence–You’re a failure. You’re a terrible wife and mother. And you know what, you’re all alone.
Perhaps this sounds familiar. If so, can I please get a witness?
Weird things happen and strange thoughts come in the depths of night. For any woman who’s stepped foot, or even poked pinky toe, onto the battlefield of menopause, she likely understands. Perhaps, even now, she’s heralding a hearty, “Amen!” as she reads this–blotting her forehead with the sleeve of her sweater (Why ever is she wearing a sweater?), nodding her agreement as she sips her fifth cup of iced coffee having also not slept well the night prior.
These are precarious times–at least for me. My body seems to be doing a war-dance with indecision. One month I’m jitterbugging to the frenzy of full-fledged hormone imbalance, while the next I’m dancing en pointe–tippy-toeing in a pirouette with the precision of a 28-day cycle. Which dance will I do this month? I ask myself often, standing in front of a plethora of feminine products at CVS–supplements for women promising increased energy, no matter the age; pain relievers touting their ability to reduce bloating and back aches. As I scan the shelves, overwhelmed by my options, I simply try to calculate what I’ll need from one month to the next. Perhaps hormone replacement therapy, I consider. Or maybe a hysterectomy.
In the light of day, I’m able to be convinced that at least I’m not alone–not a solitary sufferer of these imperfections that can only be straight from the depths of the Netherworld. It’s no wonder we call one of menopause’s side effects hot flashes, and I’m beyond certain they weren’t part of God’s perfect plan but, rather, the result of original sin which so often, without Christ, leads me to any number of transgressions.
By no means do I make light of the enemy’s dwelling place, nor his temporary finger-stirring as he attempts to meddle where’s he’s not welcome. As of yet, he’s a powerful force–not one to ever be taken lightly. Indeed, he’s the enemy of our souls.
But it’s true, isn’t it? Original sin gave Satan a foothold, and many of us experience, though to varying degrees–suffering hot flashes, infertility, fibromyalgia, arthritis, and any other number of ailments–the enemy’s efforts to draw us away from the life we’ve been promised in Christ, promised to us not in perfection but while yet wearing frailty.
The [enemy] comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that [you] may have life, and have it to the full (John 10:10).
The enemy mocks us in sneering tones–reminding us often of our infirmities, our aches and pains, and other imperfections, which aren’t themselves sin but so often lead one to sin. Whether the sting of irritability, making us snap at our husbands and children, or the more sinister lusts of the flesh that lead us astray, each is transgression. And sadly, too often, God’s girls fail to hold to truth–trading it instead for Satan’s lie, believing we’re fighting our battles alone.
Oh my heart.
Jesus came to give us the fullness of life–even in this yet war-torn, sin-saturated world. Yes, he gives life abundantly.
A Jesus-life isn’t confined by fetters but one that claims freedom–and not in one’s own strength but in the power bestowed upon each of us because of what Christ did. When Jesus, with joy, endured the cross–scorning its shame–he enabled us to face whatever this imperfect life throws our way, fully equipped with everything we need to live life to the fullest, as well as to participate in holiness.
Because, while we may have no control over when the next hot flash ensues–or the next cyst on one’s ovary or bout of chronic pain and overwhelming fatigue–we do have the ability to respond to life’s imperfections–that which, as the writer of Hebrews says, hinders us–in a Christlike manner. After all, we’re each still suffering this world’s yet broken state. Pressing deeper into Jesus in the depths of night or in the light of day–confessing the sin that so easily entangles and being forgiven for, even if not entirely set free from, anger, irritability, coarse speech, and the like–makes a world of difference. Even when one is sleep deprived or in pain, she can strive for holiness–which is simply choosing daily, sometimes minute by minute, to look to her Savior, remembering that he, too, suffered for us.
So, the next time a hot flash overtakes me, and I find myself throwing off the covers in frustration, I hope to fix my sleepy eyes on the Author and perfecter of my faith instead of selfishly texting my soundly sleeping, sweet husband. In so doing, I’ll discover the comfort of Jesus’ peace, and–even in the heat of the moment–perhaps I’ll say a prayer instead.
Even in the thick of battle, we need not grow weary, nor lose heart–despite waking damp in the throes of yet another hot flash. After all, this is nothing new, and there’s likely a great cloud of witnesses watching. Perhaps they’re even cheering us on, saying–
Throw off all that entangles and reject the enemy’s lies. One day, this, too, shall pass and all will be as God intended.
Then, as a new day dawns, rise to life abundant and choose to dance–jitterbugging or pirouetting from one month to another.
Mostly, claim God’s promise that you’re never alone.
Dear Jesus, thank you for coming to set us free from the burden of sin that so easily entangles us. Because of the work you did on the cross–through your death and resurrection–you’ve conquered sin, and the enemy has no place in our lives. Remind us to request your armor daily so we might fight the good fight, extinguishing all the fiery arrows Satan sends our way. And when we’re perhaps frustrated in the night by another hot flash–turning over for the fifteenth time–help us to claim the words of David, I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety (Psalm 4:8–NIV). Amen.