Many of us shy away from talking about our ‘time of the month’ but writer Rebecca Hunter-Kelm challenges that idea. Here she explains why we have nothing to be ashamed of and how we can bleed as believers.
More than half the people on the planet menstruate. Bleed from the vagina. Have a period. Menstruating once a month adds up to around ten years of our lives. For most of us, it’s business as usual when we have our periods: work, family, and commitments. Even with cramps, mood swings, or migraines, we keep on keepin’ on. Even though we might not always enjoy having our period, God doesn’t want us to feel shame about something he made.
Society finally encourages us to stop being embarrassed or ashamed about our periods. - it is, after all, how God designed us- and we are wonderfully and fearfully made just like David says in Psalm 139. It’s also encouraging to see campaigns around issues such as the period tax, aka #helpendperiodpoverty.
Our periods are not dirty, disgusting, or shameful. The way God designed our periods is amazing. When we were in utero, our mother’s blood nourished us and kept us alive - menstrual blood is literally life-giving. Wow!
God designed the timings of our menstrual cycle to reflect his glorious creation. Our cycles reflect the timings of the moon’s 30-day cycle of waxing and waning. When our bodies release an egg, it is either fertilized or released as blood also over around 30 days. It’s also really wonderful to think about everyone worldwide that has a period - it’s a unifying experience for women of every race, colour, and nationality. Our blood transcends all our differences, and it’s a poignant reminder that God created us all equal.
Our periods are not dirty, disgusting, or shameful. The way God designed our periods is amazing.
In her book “A Brief History of Periods”, Kathleen Nielson suggested that our having periods goes back to the fall in Genesis as a part of childbearing is part of the pain of “painful labour” from Genesis 3:16. But all the pain associated with childbearing, including periods, reflects the cry of all creation for a renewed world - for the Kingdom to come. In the Old Testament, Mosaic Law laid out provisions to help the Israelite live holy and pure lives in worship of God. A woman was viewed as unclean during her period, and sex during her period was also forbidden (Leviticus 15 v 19-20).
Does this mean that God thinks our periods make us unclean? No. Let’s remember that there were also ceremonial laws for men - and that blood is not evil in itself (on the contrary, it’s the giver of all life). But menstruation was a symbol of uncleanliness. When it came to the Levitical laws for approaching a holy God, all sin had was atoned through blood sacrifices and ritual cleansing, and so a woman on her period represented death in the shedding of blood.
We then see a beautiful redemptive trajectory of women and their incredible God-given menstrual cycles throughout scripture when Jesus enters the world through a woman’s body. He came through the inconvenient, painful and messy process of painful childbirth to shed his own lifeblood for the atonement of our sins.
It’s a unifying experience for women of every race, colour, and nationality. Our blood transcends all our differences.
Jesus healed a woman with a chronic bleeding disorder who dared to touch Jesus’ cloak while she would have been considered unclean in Luke 8 v 43-48. As believers who bleed, let’s remember God made us perfectly and in his image - and let’s remember how amazing the lifeblood he gave us is. All our shame was bourn on Jesus on the cross, meaning no more shame about our bodies our bleeding!
We’re waiting for the redemption and the renewal of all things through the Kingdom of God. To welcome this redemption, each time we bleed, we can treat it as a sacred time to slow down, rest (if possible), and even celebrate the miraculous way God made our bodies and blood to create life.
Taking the time to bleed during our period consciously can even reduce pain and be incredibly meaningful. From making our own “red tent” cocoon to withdraw and rest to spending time journalling our spiritual journey from the previous month, the more we love and accept our bodies and the way God designed them, the more meaningfully we can bleed as believers.