While I’ve never actually met her, I hear there’s a monster living in our house.

Rumor is she’s pretty scary. Irritable. Moody. Snaps at everyone in her path. Rolls her eyes a lot. Short-tempered, easily frustrated, can’t concentrate. Cries at Subaru commercials. Wears sweatpants. Forgets how to finish a sentence. Eats constantly. Mostly chocolate. Or anything else she can find in the cupboard. Or fridge. Or under the couch.

And apparently we look a lot alike, this monster and me.

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Thankfully, she doesn’t come out often. Every twenty-eight days or so, right about the time I happen to head for the hills, leaving my poor, defenseless family to fend for themselves. It’s sad, really.

To be perfectly honest, up until recently, our little monster situation seemed like a hoax. For years I refused to believe she existed at all, despite my husband’s frightening eyewitness accounts. But that kind of denial can make a person feel a little irrational. A bit crazy. Nutty even.

So alright. Fine. Yes, she exists. And she will continue to rage as long as I (or my wacky hormones) do. Fortunately however, for those around me, I’ve discovered that she doesn’t have to rule over my home, my behavior, or my heart. I’m not destined to get kicked out of the house every month; I don’t have to let her win. And you don’t either.

Nuts or normal? We can blame Eve all we want, but it won’t change the way we’re made. The hormonal fluctuations, drop in serotonin and the brain’s chemical changes that contribute to mood swings, depression, fatigue, sleep issues and food cravings are routine. They happen like clockwork. In other words, they’re noooormal. Yet we still find ourselves completely shocked, wondering month after month, “What is wrong with me?” Anticipating that our hormones, along with our self-esteem, body image, and ability to cope, will be out of whack for a few days eases the challenge a bit; accepting that it’s natural –not nutty- and not not not going to last forever helps even more. Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning. (Psalm 30:5)

We’re in this together. According to womenshealth.gov, roughly 85% of women suffer fromwomen friendship2 symptoms of PMS from the teen years till menopause. We must remember those statistics when a girlfriend seems a little distant or a woman colleague seems on edge. PMS causes us to get testy with others, but we tend to get sensitive when we find ourselves on the receiving end of the grumpiness as well. As much as we all try to hide our monsters, we are most likely running into at least a few every day. Just as I become desperate for grace each time my hormones act up (or down), I must extend the same kindness to sisters in the same boat. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Colossians 3:13

Gimme a Break– As much as my crabby behavior disappoints me, as guilt-ridden as I end up feeling after barking at the people I love most in the world, I cannot continuously beat myself up over it. Just like every other sin that trips us up, the devil would love nothing more than for us to hold on to it long after our monster flees. But if we apologize for our behavior and make strides in the right direction, God promises that we can leave it behind. Tomorrow’s a new day, and His mercy and forgiveness is as dependable as the rising sun. The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. (Lamentations 3:22-23)

It’s only taken me thirty years or so, but I’m learning, getting better at accepting my body with all of its challenges, giving and receiving more grace, and refusing to let myself wallow in guilt. Sure, my monster may still lurk around from time to time, but at least she’s not as scary as she used to be.

If depressing thoughts or high irritability seems severe, life-altering or lasts more than a few days, or you have thoughts of hurting yourself or others, seek the advice of a physician or healthcare professional immediately.