Jacob and Anna
Is Jacob’s lactose-intolerance the clue to my PCOS?

Psalm 113:9 NIV

He settles the barren woman in her home as happy mother of children. Praise the Lord.

Psalm 113:9 GNV

He honours the childless wife in her home; he makes her happy by giving her children. Praise the Lord!

For years I have clung to this scripture. I’ve poured over it, mulled over it, wondered, meditated, questioned and wept over it. Somehow, I found comfort and hope in its words. For years it was the NIV version I read, and I spoke to God about being settled. Even now, I desperately want to be settled, to be stable and calm.

The words home, body and temple are loosely interchangeable in scripture, depending on their context. Sometimes home can refer to your whole life, your choices, your world. Even tent (see Isaiah 54) is interchangeable at times and that speaks to me of being even less settled than a home!

As a sufferer of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) for over 25 years, I have wondered a lot about being ‘settled’ in my body. I have written about how femininity felt like an ill-fitting pair of jeans. Over time, those uncomfortable jeans have become slightly less annoying. I understand that beauty is pain. If I’m going to be a woman then I have to accept certain things, periods being one, shaving my legs being another. [sigh] An aside, Filipinos find body hair incredibly sexy. The women get upset that they don’t have enough hair. I would be one entirely sexy mumma in that country!

This scripture has taken on even more meaning for me in the years since we sold our home. We had a young child – Grace was about 15 months when we sold it. We knew we couldn’t afford the mortgage repayments unless I went back to work. After 8+ years of fertility treatment, I had no intention of putting my hard fought precious miracle girl into someone else’s care to meet a mortgage payment. We learnt, after giving it up, that not having a home with a mortgage provides a certain level of freedom. We went caravanning for five months. We lived by the sea for six months. We spent precious time with our little girl. There is certainly less stress.

However, being a renter is unsettled. I do find myself longing for the day that I can just hang a picture on a wall or plant a vegie patch without consulting the landlord. I have purchased a single ticket in this Endeavour Prize Home lottery. Jake and I even paid a visit. I prayed in the ‘Prayer Room’. “How perfect”, I thought, “a home with a prayer room”. Even Christians can kneel several times a day in prayer, you know. If my ticket wins, I will know that it is God restoring me and settling me once again in a home of my own, restoring the years that the locust has eaten. If it doesn’t win, I will be challenged to allow God to make me feel settled and at peace in our rental home. I will be challenged to make it a home in any small way I can – even if that involves blue-tacked posters or wired up chandeliers.

He spoke to me recently – not in so many words – but He showed me that it is He who settles me in my home. It is He who can settle me even in a rental property. It’s not about property ownership, it’s about having a spirit of contentment wherever God gives me to live. He challenged me to feel ‘settled’ inside my own skin. That’s a challenge. There were days when I felt convinced God had stuffed up, that he had my gender wrong and PCOS was proof of it. These days, I know He has my gender right. I know He made me perfect and whole and the condition of PCOS seems to be losing its strength over my mind.

Even this week I had something of a breakthrough. My little Jacob has been diagnosed as lactose intolerant. It is pretty definite as various food challenges have only confirmed it. As a baby I had an allergy and doctors at the time made an assumption about its cause. That was back in the early 70’s and so much has changed since then. All the latest studies on PCOS are linking it with chronic inflammation and a compromised immune system. I am living proof and have been through several medical events lately that have only confirmed how poor my immune system is. Why? Because my body is constantly producing higher-than-necessary levels of cortisol. This compromises my other hormones and mucks up my fertility and insulin production. It damages every cell in my body and my body tries to protect itself by creating an immune response. I read that it protects its most precious two organs first – the brain and the ovaries. It’s been doing this for 40 years, so my immune system is pretty depleted and compromised.

Could it be a chronic undiagnosed food intolerance? Is it that my body is trying to fight inflammation every day? In previous years when I have done the Daniel Fast, which is a vegan fast, I have experienced immediate and dramatic relief of my PCOS symptoms.  I am now in the process of eliminating dairy out of my diet for at least a month to see if I have any symptom relief. It will be interesting to see if that is part of my problem. Wouldn’t it be great if PCOS completely lost its hold on me? Wouldn’t it be great if the symptoms went away?

Wouldn’t it be great if I could feel ‘settled’ in my body in regardless? How would I feel if God ‘honoured’ me in my body?

Praise the Lord because He is good.