As the Family Goes

JP II Quote

"As the family goes, so goes the nation, and so goes the whole world in which we live." John Paul II

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Sensitive Soul

Have you ever had an emotional day, only to have someone say, "you must be pregnant," or "it must be PMS"?  Pretty much ever since I hit puberty these questions have been a reality, whether it has been from people around me or just me within myself, whenever I get a tad emotional I start to think, "What's wrong?  Am I pregnant?  Am I close to my period?"

Maybe.  Because the fact is that is reality for women.  While we do tend to be more emotional than men are, those emotions are naturally heightened during both menstruation and ovulation, which each happen once a month for the typical woman, and two weeks apart.  So generally speaking, we women have heightened emotions every couple of weeks, which can last for a day, a week or more at time, naturally built into the way we work.  It can be a burden!  Don't you find (or maybe it's just me?) that when you start to feel something negative, the first thing you want to say is, "and it's not because I'm pregnant!"  I do.  Because I want people to take my feelings seriously.  When I'm going through something, I don't want the people around me to assume it's just because my hormones are out of balance, and just wait for it to pass.  I want to share it, and be heard objectively.  I want support and help, to be met where I am because it's a real place (and not just PMS.)

I got thinking about feminity, in particular as it relates to sensitivity.  Sensitivity is often seen as such a weekness in our world today.  It's often mislabeled as "moody," or "naggy," or "bitchy."  But that's not what the church says.  Here's what the great soon-to-be Saint John Paul II wrote in his letter to Women in 1995:

"Thank you, women who are daughters and women who are sisters! Into the heart of the family, and then of all society, you bring the richness of your sensitivity, your intuitiveness, your generosity and fidelity."

Pope Benedict too, had high praise for the sensitivity of women.  In his General Audience of September 8, 2010, in reflecting on the life of St. Hildegard of Bingen he said,:

"From these brief references we already see that theology too can receive a special contribution from women because they are able to talk about God and the mysteries of faith using their own particular intelligence and sensitivity."

And more recently Pope Francis wrote in Evangelii Gaudium:

"The Church acknowledges the indispensable contribution which women make to society through the sensitivity, intuition and other distinctive skill sets which they, more than men, tend to possess."

I'm coming to see these dreaded "times of the month" as gifts.  I'm into my fourth cycle post-baby now, which is more back-to-back cycles than I've had in the entire ten years of my marriage.  I had forgotten what it was like to live in the up and down world of female emotions. Pregnancy and breastfeeding bring their own sets of hormones and emotions, but I think they are a bit more constant, and I think maybe I had gotten used to that.  I feel like a teenager again right now, with all the angst, moodiness and anxiety that comes along with it.  But that's not a bad thing, and here's why.

As a wife and mother of a large family, I am very good at go-go-going.  I don't spend much time dwelling on myself or the things the Lord is trying to do in my heart.  These past few months however, every couple of weeks as I was either approaching menstruation or ovulation, I found myself confronted with very heavy matters of the heart, things that caused deep pain on the one hand, but became an invitation from the Lord on the other hand to not stay here, where I'm living.  To not be the kind of person who skims along through life, just surviving.  We can't be numb forever.  We need to feel.  If we shut everything out, we will be closed when love tries to enter.  Our natural emotions as women melt our hardened hearts, draw us out of the same old, daily routines.  They can cause us to crash into a heaping mess, but from there we can be raised up to even greater heights, more fully into the loving embrace of God.  What gift!

I thank you Lord for the unique ways in which you have created women, and the sensitivity you have gifted us with.  May I use it to be sensitive to your ways, and may it help mold me more and more into the woman you have called me to be.

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