One reason I get so grumpy when I talk about the “M” season is that it isn’t what God intended for us originally. Really, think about it. He created two perfectly healthy, perfectly proportioned, and completely sufficient human beings, to enjoy His perfectly-climate-controlled paradise, without any health impairments or geriatric issues, when Eve decided to take things a different course.
God placed his children in a perfect paradise, but sin changed all that.
One fall-out from that change is that our womanhood is dramatically affected. We are no longer perfectly healthy or eternally young!
One reason I refer to this season as the “other side of womanhood” is that for the first couple of decades, from the earliest cognitive thought, we are looking forward, first as young girls then as teens, we look forward to womanhood and all that entails. We hope for marriage and children, for productivity and successful endeavors, we approach life leaning forward into all the promise womanhood holds.
And then something begins to happen in our forties.
For me, it was the first day I couldn’t read the ingredient label: “What is wrong with this print? Did they write this in Chinese? I can’t make out these letters . . . maybe if I hold it up in the light . . .” It took a few of these kinds of episodes before I realized something had happened to my eyes. I’d never worn glasses or contacts in my life, never had any kind of impaired vision at all, but I found myself standing in front of the display for reading glasses and discovered a whole new world.
It was shortly after wearing reading glasses that I started noticing other odd events: my eyelashes were missing, my morning bags under my eyes were there to stay, my waist kept increasing (and increasing, and . . . you get the picture).
I was changing dramatically and there was nothing I could do about it!
I was aging.
I have a dear friend who has always looked forward to getting old. Really, I’m not kidding. Her greatest goal in life is to one day be a godly old lady. Of course as she’s aging, her skin is flawless, her teeth impeccable, her beautiful gray hair is striking. I don’t think she’s lost any eyelashes and she’s older than me!
But the outward aging process, although difficult to get used to, is something we all know is inevitable. What is a little more unexpected is realizing I’m now operating from a different perspective.
I’m no longer looking forward to womanhood but am viewing it from a rear-view mirror.
The “other side of womanhood” is the season where I’m no longer looking forward to little ones in my womb. I’ve reached a place of maternal barrenness. I’ve crossed a point of no return; my fertility window has slammed shut and my biological time clock has expired! I’m never going to have another little one fill my womb. That is a difficult reality to adjust to. The loss can bring on a strange feeling of emptiness and unexpected “closure.” It was enough to bring on a few dizzy spells (literally!).
But once I regained my equilibrium, what I’ve found in this “other side” season is that I’m actually able to be more fruitful than when I was in my child-bearing years. There is more opportunity to invest in a greater number of lives than when my primary focus was my little ones. There is a well of wisdom from a lifetime of experience to draw from when counseling younger women that wasn’t there in my early years. There is a sweet abiding contentment that comes from resting in God’s sovereign plan because I’ve walked with Him long enough now to know (experientially, not just theologically) that He really does have the best plan.
This side of womanhood wasn’t part of the original design, you know, the pre-fall, pre-corruption design of womanhood. But none of that took God by surprise, He had a plan all along and God has a redemptive purpose for us in this season.
This can be the most spiritually fruitful season of our lives.
Knowing I am now on the other side of womanhood, presses me more urgently to finish well. The time I have left is growing short. Every moment counts:
[box]Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13–14)[/box]
Are you on the “other side of womanhood?” How are you spending your life?