Happy Natural Family Planning awareness week! I don’t have years of experience, but I am still a witness to the difficult, beautiful, life-giving concept we call NFP and so I will share it with you!
Before Ryan and I got married the church required that we attend a Natural Family Planning class. I had never heard of such a concept which made me a skeptic from the beginning. Why would I go through the hassle of NFP when I could just take a pill?
We sat through an hour of awkward graphics and confusing stickers before we darted out as quickly as we could. I pushed the weird practice out of my mind and continued on my merry little way. It was easy to ignore the teaching because we knew we were open to babies from the get go.
I found myself in a panic at my 6 week postpartum check up. The doctor was badgering me about what form of birth control I was planning to take, and all I could think of was that class we’d attended a year before.
1. Higher risk of breast cancer
2. Depression and anxiety
3. Loss of respect for the woman’s body
4. Goes against God’s natural design
These were the reasons echoing through my mind. These are why I wanted to stay off of it.
Before I knew it I had a prescription waiting for me at Walgreens. The doctor talked me into an oral form of birth control promising that it was the best decision for preventing any accidents. I was unsure. I felt mixed emotions rushing through my body. I felt I had no control, like my only options were to take this pill or become pregnant again.
A couple months into taking the pill I reached out to the Church looking for support and information on NFP. My heart was calling me to let go of birth control and give the control back to God. I knew it was something I had to do to deepen my relationship with Christ but little did I know that it would change my relationship with myself and my husband as well.
I stopped taking the pill that day and so began the difficult journey of understanding my body. Nothing came easily for me the first 3 months. I was confused, unsure, and discouraged by the lack of regularity. I kept going because I knew it was the right thing to do. I am grateful I kept going.
As my journey progressed I became more and more confident in the practice. I felt so much freedom in knowing the ins and outs of my cycle and being aware of God’s beautiful design. I have found more power entrusting this part of my life to God than I ever did when I thought I was in control.
The communication between my husband and I has increased drastically. I feel more closely connected, like we are a team working for a common goal. I feel loved and respected, something I truly believe birth control took away. My marriage can now work in unison with God’s design and plan for our lives and there is nothing more beautiful. It doesn’t come without challenges of course but God’s “grace is sufficient.”
NFP isn’t the easy way out. It’s the difficult way. It’s the way that plants deep roots and calls you to grow in faith. It’s not some quick fix to a problem society tells us we have. It is a long lasting yes to God’s will.
I was a skeptic. It’s hard, it requires effort, it requires abstinence and sacrifice, but all those things lead us closer to God and to each other. His design is flawless. It’s not something we need to suppress it’s something we are called to embrace.
NFP was the first large step I’ve taken in fully trusting God, and I’m thankful to the Catholic Church for planting that little seed in my heart a couple years ago. I’m thankful God saw fit to let it bloom.
FUN FACT: couples who practice this teaching have a 98 to 99 percent success rate in marriage!