The first seeds of NFP grew in my mind on a cold evening in late October of 2010. Daniel and I were two crazy kids who had only been dating for a month and were in a serious conversation about marriage, the future, and whatnot. We did not start our relationship casually. We both started with intent to marry, hence the deep conversation after only a few dates. Almost every conversation we had in private was deep, because Daniel had recently converted to Catholicism and we had a lot of catching up to do. I also knew next to nothing about the Catholic faith and I would listen intently to anything Daniel volunteered about his mysterious beliefs.
After a wonderful date, we were sitting on a blanket outside in the woods surrounding my house, waiting for the stars to make their appearance.* I don’t remember exactly what we were talking about, but somehow, kids were mentioned and we began discussing if we had ever thought kids were in our future. That’s when Daniel began explaining to me about the Church’s teachings on contraception. Unfortunately, he paused there for a while as we sat and talked about our own thoughts on it, and my mind was spinning as I thought of all the large families I knew, and if we could afford a large family. It wasn’t that I believed in contraception, because I hadn’t really thought about it too much until that point. It was just that I had no idea there was anything to postpone a pregnancy and how would we make it without our own big family reality TV show to help pay the bills? Apparently, my optimism prevented me from over worrying though, and when asked what I thought about it all, I replied very honestly, “I think I want a big family,” and it was the one thing I knew I wasn’t afraid to do in my life. It was only then that Daniel went on to explain NFP and an openness to life. It all made perfect sense to me.
Through the years, I’ve learned that openness to life doesn’t automatically mean you are going to have a big family. And sometimes, openness to life means being open to God’s plan even if that means that he doesn’t give you a baby right when you want one. I’ve learned that it can often mean, “wait,” and I’ve witnessed many other women and mothers who have learned the same thing. For many women it can mean “patience to put your kids first,” but, for others (myself included), it can mean “patience to wait on God’s timing” even if it takes years. All in all, I believe patience is as essential to “openness” as butter is to bread.**
After Daniel and I got engaged, I began exploring the world of NFP the best way that I could without being Catholic. I didn’t know about the classes and courses that were offered and I didn’t have a family member explaining anything. Of course I was much too shy to ask anyone about it, so my efforts went into reading all about the subject and teaching myself through literature and folded up charts in the back of books. As I learned, I was excited about the new knowledge I had about my own body. I loved the “Natural” in Natural Family Planning. I was also doubtful though. I admit, a little part of me wondered (especially after we were married) if I really knew what I was doing with NFP or if maybe I was a woman who struggled with fertility. I thought that there was no way it was because of my efforts that it was working well to postpone pregnancy in our early marriage.
But that was the point.
It wasn’t me or infertility or even JUST Natural Family Planning.
It goes back to that openness to life. In the end, we are open to life when we practice NFP. And even deeper still, that means that we are open to God and His will for our life.
There are many benefits to NFP and there have been many better bloggers out there who have covered them, so I just want to leave you with my personal experience and account of it.
To me, when I practice NFP, I choose to give myself to God. I freely choose to let him be my God in the most intimate ways of my life. NFP is just a tool that I use to help me give myself to God and He uses it to bring me closer to Him through His will.
All of that being said as someone who was practicing NFP to postpone for the time being, what do I have to say about the most recent event in our life?
It works exactly as it was meant to and once again (in a new way), I joyfully give myself to God and His will for our life.
*Daniel and I reserve the right to call ourselves the sappiest romantics ever. No shame
**Butterless bread makes me depressed.