by Barb Best
When the symptoms of perimenopause began in my mid-forties, I pored over articles, blog posts, and any information I could get my hands on. I listened intently at Women’s Group meetings and other gatherings of women as friends and coworkers talked of their experiences. The information, be it secular or Christian in nature, generally fell in to two camps. One group celebrated the end of monthly periods and the sexual freedom that came from no longer having to fear unplanned pregnancy. The other group grieved their loss of femininity and their emptying nests, as menopause hit when their children were entering high school or college and moving on. In the thousands of words that passed through my consciousness I never once saw a reference to single women.
I am fifty-eight years old, never married, childless. A Christian since I was nineteen, I have lived the chaste life God directed in His Word. But information regarding menopause presumes a woman is sexually active and, if she is a Believer, married. However, menopause occurs by virtue of biology and gender, not according to marital status. While single women may experience the same physical symptoms such as mood swings, brain fog, and hot flashes, there is an emotional and spiritual component unique to us. At menopause a woman’s fertility ceases. She will never have any more children. For women like me, we will never have any children. Since there is no marriage or childbearing in the next life, that never is really never ever. For eternity.
No one really knows what the new heaven and the new earth will look like, though much of this earth gives us hints, allowing us to visualize and give it some shape and form. Because many of these examples relate to marriage and childbirth I’m often puzzled and feel left out. Psalm 113:9 says “He gives the barren woman a home, making her the joyous mother of children.”, but I don’t know if I’m barren. I’ve never had opportunity to find out. In Romans 8:22 Paul describes the deliverance from present trials to the glory that awaits us using a child birth metaphor. Men who’ve witnessed the birth of their children have a better understanding of this verse than I.
Randy Alcorn wrote “Heaven is not the absence of longing but it’s fulfillment. Heaven is not the absence of itches; it is the satisfying scratch for every itch.” But the Bible explicitly says the very thing I long for, marriage and children, will not exist in heaven. So, I’m confused. Just how will that itch be scratched? Walking along that particular portion of the valley of the shadow of death is a little darker for me. I keep tripping.
But I’m not the only one stymied by the ways of God. After the death of Lazarus, Martha meets Jesus and tells him that had he been there before Lazarus had died he could have healed him and that despite her brother’s death, she still believes Jesus has God’s ear. Jesus tells her “Your brother will come back to life.” He’s speaking in definite terms, making a promise; a promise Martha does not doubt.
She answers, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Martha had knowledge. She had faith. Nonetheless she was wrong…or maybe just incomplete. Jesus didn’t wait until the last day to reunite she and her sister with Lazarus. He raised him from the dead only a bit later. Based on her knowledge and understanding, Mary expected one outcome; Jesus had something different and far better than she could imagine.
I know God’s Word and I believe it to be true. When He says He will grant the desires of my heart I believe Him. I just have no clue of what it will look like, though I’ve wasted plenty of time and tears trying. I just know that because of His faithfulness in the past and present, He will faithfully fulfill this longing. The empty ring finger of my left hand, and my empty womb will not have been for nothing. In the next life He will reveal to me His good purpose and it will be far better than I ever imagined.
Barb Best lives in Erie, PA with her Coonhound, Lucy. She enjoys reading, writing, and running. She completes all of these very slowly. Follow her at www.brab.blogspot.com