Three Encouragements for Your PMS Self
“I don’t know what happens! One day, I’m happy and everything’s fine. The next day, even though nothing has changed and there are no new problems, I’m miserable, mean, can’t stop crying, and all my problems seem completely insurmountable! It’s like I’m Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde!” These aren’t the words of any particular person, but they sum up well the lament of those who suffer from PMS[i][ii]. This monthly cycle of everything that was fine yesterday being devastating today is a very common theme in counseling, and I suspect in all of womanhood. So, what’s the deal with PMS? Did God just decide to play a cruel trick on women? Was he mad at Eve for eating the fruit, and decided to take it out on all of her daughters forever?
Well, not exactly…
To the woman He said:
I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception;
In pain you shall bring forth children…”(Genesis 3:16a)
As we all know, our monthly cycles have everything to do with conception and childbearing, so in this sense, PMS is a product of original sin. The pain of shifting hormones and cramps can result in moodiness, irritability, and a kind of depression. The world has labeled this bundle of symptoms PMS, or Premenstrual Syndrome. Leave it to the secular healthcare world to turn a natural part of life into a syndrome, but we know biblically that all pain and sorrow are a result of the fall of man. Why should this be any different?
Now, let’s move on to those issues that comprise this problem of PMS. I’ll address just three of them here: Irritability, pain, and depression.
I always have to chuckle a little when I see the commercials for over-the-counter PMS relief pills that claim to address this symptom. Typically, when you read the label, you find that it contains caffeine, which I suppose would give you the energy to get the laundry done so you won’t be irritated by family members who expect that sort of thing. But really, there is no pill that can cure irritability, because—even during that exceptional week each month—it is a sinful response to circumstances. PMS is not an excuse for any sin, and that includes grumpiness, moodiness, snapping at everyone, and being easily angered. These things are all still sin, regardless of the calendar, and you are 100% responsible.
We need to approach this temptation to sin just like all the others: Fully armed with the truth, submitted to the will of God, and dependent on the Holy Spirit. It is especially important during this time to be well grounded in the Word of God. Having plenty of truth in your holster to fire at the lies of PMS will make a big difference as you deal with the day-to-day during this time. For example, when you think that there is no way you can resist the temptation to scream at your kids because you are frustrated and overwhelmed, remember 1 Corinthians 10:13.
No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.
Truth is truth, and you are responsible to act on it, regardless of the time of the month.
The pain of PMS is real, and can range from mild to intense. The monthly discomfort can make it difficult to keep up with housework, grocery shopping, meal prep, and other responsibilities. But, as you know, life goes on, people have to eat, and chores must be completed. So, what are we to do when pain tells us to stay in bed but our God-given responsibilities await? For the answer to this question, we can look for encouragement to those who suffer with ongoing chronic pan.
There are many believers who wake up in pain, suffer all day, and go to bed in pain, yet they continue to serve the Lord and their families faithfully. Your PMS pain is only temporary, and in a few days, it will be gone. Perhaps instead of complaining about our “light and momentary affliction,” we could pray for those who suffer every day with debilitating pain. This will give us some perspective on our own situation and, Lord willing, help us to be grateful for our general good health.
Preparation is a good battle plan, too. Keep a few freezer meals ready for these days, and stock up the pantry so you’re not surprised by a shortage of any essentials on a bad day. Teach older children to do simple chores, and require their participation in keeping the home neat. If they already have a routine of responsibility for some of the housework, these PMS days will be less stressful.
Just typing that word reminds me that we need to be careful about our terminology here. Is this really depression? Biblically, depression is sorrow without hope. Is that what’s going on during these few days each month? Probably not. Yes, there are hormonal influences on our mood for sure, but are their effects really that devastating? Be careful what you tell yourself during these days. Yes, you may feel down, but you need to remind yourself that this, like the pain, is temporary, has a known cause, and will likely resolve on its own. Telling yourself you’re depressed will only magnify the self-focus and self-pity you’re tempted to indulge.
The pain, discomfort, and moodiness we experience each month do not have to be game changers for us spiritually. Hormones can’t make us snap at our husbands, cramps can’t make us neglect our duties, and the blues are not the boss of us, no matter what time of the month it is. My dear believing sister, PMS is not an excuse to sin. With some planning, prayer, and preparation, you can—and you must—persevere in faith regardless of how you feel.
So, the next time Mr. Hyde comes knocking at your door asking to hang out for a few days, recognize the truth: God is bigger and His Spirit is more powerful than any hormonal changes. He is able to teach your heart to submit to His will in spite of them, and I would encourage you to ask Him to show you that this is true. He is faithful, and will do it!
[i] Pre-Menstrual Syndrome, a group of symptoms that may occur in a woman at any time between ovulation and the onset of her monthly period.
[ii] In this post, I am addressing women who have typical cycles, with mild to moderate symptoms.