It’s easy because as a married Catholic, faithful to the teachings of Christ and His Church, practicing nfp is like meatless Fridays in Lent. The Church – with its 2,000 years of theologians, philosophers, and other people who are way smarter and holier than I – says that I should practice nfp. So I do. I already did the studying and soul-searching and came to the conclusion that the Catholic Church is the Church. So if it tells me to have fish sticks on Fridays I do. If it tells me to constantly pray about a possible pregnancy I do. And if Holy Mother Church tells me to not use contraception I don’t.
And all those things they told me about nfp making my marriage better are true. Except when I’m lying next to the man I love him and we’re both sure that we shouldn’t conceive a child. Those moments can bring frustration to our marriage and make living out my faith harder. Because sometimes I just want to say “to heck with it” and use contraception. And sometimes when I’m paying for the ept at the dollar store, exhausted and holding a 7 month old who has been crying for 7 months, all I can think is, “oh no, not now, oh no, not now, oh crap.” And actually living out nfp – prayerfully and obediently – is sometimes nothing like what they told me in my class. It can suck a lot more – especially postpartum.
So that’s the harder. But don’t get me wrong; the difficulties do not outweigh the blessings. When I think of my children I am certain that because we are open to life we have all the kids God wants us to have. (Please God that we have more!) There is joy in knowing that eternity will be better because my husband and I did not say, “to heck with it!” We have peace of mind and heart because we discerned and followed God’s will to the best of our abilities.
I suppose that what it comes down to is that trusting God is the hardest and easiest part of my marriage, my life, and the living out of my faith. It is hard because I want to be in control, I want to plan, I want to worry. But when I let go of those desires and trust in the Lord my life becomes so easy. Not without crosses or troubles, but filled with joy, peace, support, and beauty. When I rely on an all good God to lead me the yoke is easy and the burden is light. Even through a miscarriage or a long stay at the NICU. Even through the grocery store with a 1, 2, and 3-year-old all crying. Even then.
Image from Sara Alfred.