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Menopause Doesn't Mean Wasting Away

 
Rachel Jones | May 13, 2021

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

When I ask Clare about the menopause, she says, 

“I thought I knew what to expect when it came to the menopause. If anything, I was relieved to be getting on with it. And then the night sweats started. For a few weeks they were irritating rather than anything else. Then, like an avalanche, they hit full force. On the worst nights, I woke a dozen times, boiling. Sleep deprivation had its predictable effect: my brain was mush, my sense of humour had gone walkabout and I spent my time apologising in advance to my nearest and dearest for any waspish comments.”

She doesn’t need telling that “outwardly [she is] wasting away” (v 16). She can see it with her own eyes and feel it in her own body. But Paul says that there is something else going on as we age that can’t be seen in the mirror—we are “being renewed day by day” (v 16). 

Our Spiritual Growth Doesn't Hit Menopause

The same spiritual life that we seek to cultivate in others as we speak is being renewed in ourselves. Though our earthly bodies are temporary, God’s work on our character is eternal; though our earthly bodies give us trouble, one day we will enter into God’s glory for ever.

This is so important to keep hold of in a culture that prizes the things we can see with our eyes—namely, youth and beauty. Most ageing happens pretty gradually—we go grey one hair at a time. But one of the reasons why the menopause can be so upsetting is that it feels so final: so definitive. It is an undeniable and unignorable physical declaration that you are getting old. Our culture says that’s a bad thing—perhaps especially if you’re a woman.

"The older we get, the more younger women we’ll find around us and the more wisdom we’ll have to offer them. Which means that as we move towards and through mid-life, our spiritual fertility can continue to increase."

Getting Older is a Gift

But when it comes to speaking about and serving Jesus, neither your age nor your gender is against you. In the Bible’s view of things, getting older—and certainly looking older—is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, Titus 2 suggests that as we mature, there are more opportunities for disciple-making, not fewer, as we become the “older women” who are so crucial to teaching the “younger women” in every church community. 

While it’s true that, whatever our age, we can always be an older woman to someone, Paul does seem to have something generational in mind here. So if you’re at a stage of life where various changes have lead you to wonder what your place is, Paul assures you: It’s right here, getting alongside younger women. This is not something that Pastor Titus can do himself—he needs you. And they need you.

A Brief Theology of Periods (Yes, Really)

A Brief Theology of Periods (Yes, Really)

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What does the Bible say about periods?

Seek Spiritual Fruit in this Season

The older we get, the more younger women we’ll find around us and the more wisdom we’ll have to offer them. Which means that as we move towards and through mid-life, our spiritual fertility can continue to increase. As our timepiece shifts within us, moving us from one season to the next, it reminds us to use our time well. 

“We fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4 v 18). Maybe the fruit of your labour for the latest season of life feels less than tangible. You can’t identify your spiritual children with a DNA test; you can’t weigh spiritual fruit in pounds and ounces. That doesn’t make it less real or less significant.

Even if it looks as though we haven’t made any significant difference to anyone, looks can be deceiving. Much of what God is doing remains unseen by us in this life. Paul invites us to look beyond the here and now, and trust that, somehow, our efforts are producing “for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (v 17).

The challenge for all of us, whoever we are and whatever season we’re in, is to daily fix our eyes not on our ageing body or the earthly circumstances we can “see” but on what we can’t see, but which is nonetheless what is most real and most reliable: on Christ’s kingdom, and our place in it.

This is an extract from A Brief Theology of Periods (Yes, Really) by Rachel Jones. 

Rachel Jones

Rachel Jones is the author of A Brief Theology of Periods (Yes, Really), Is This It? and several books in the award-winning Five Things to Pray series, and serves as Vice President (Editorial) at The Good Book Company. She helps teach kids and serves on the mission core team at her church, King's Church Chessington, in Surrey, UK.

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