As NFP teaching volunteers in the Diocese, this past week we were invited to a celebration mass on Sunday night at the Co-Cathedral with the Cardinal (twice in 2 weeks!). It was a simple celebration consisting of mass and a potluck dinner afterward with other NFP volunteers in order to commemorate the last day of NFP awareness week. I think it was worth going just to watch Mike’s head spin from the chaos that happened when multiple children got together and started running around during the potluck! Talk about sensory overload! [Sidenote: I was talking to one of the fathers and they said that luckily that only really happens when tons of kids get together…I guess one day we’ll know first hand if he was lying…].
So I already know what you’re thinking “See? Lot’s of kids? I knew NFP doesn’t work!” Maybe one day I’ll post on the correlation between kids and NFP users, but for now also know that we are one of the youngest teaching couples, not only in age but also in married age. Many people become teaching couples after they have kids and have been practicing NFP for a couple years. Although sometimes I think that maybe we would be more effective teachers and our clients would take our advice more seriously if we had been married longer and had kids of our own to serve as a better example, I always try to recall our reasons for becoming NFP teachers in the first place:
- This is too great a gift to not share what we know. Growing up I didn’t know that charting your fertility was even possible and I for sure didn’t understand the teachings of the Church surrounding it. I feel now that I almost have an obligation to share regardless of my age since I was so blessed to have people take the time to share it with me.
- Being in graduate school, this is one of the most flexible times of our life to begin teaching and last winter/spring was a good time for us to make this a priority to attend the workshops, study for the tests and take them, precisely because we don’t have kids yet. From what we hear (ha!) being a parent keeps you busy with your own vocation/mission of caring for your children, so if our lives are only going to get busier, why put it off when we can make an impact now?
- Maybe we could take some of the burden from the teaching families!
- Last night’s Cafe Catholica was all about the history of St. Paul, evangelizing and witnessing. This is one way that we as a couple felt called to witness to others.
- In Mike’s words, as a couple we were already going to go through the “life lesson” of using NFP, so why not just learn the material enough to be teachers? We were going to have to learn it all anyway…
- It always helps to have a teaching couple you can relate to. Since most of the engaged are young couples, I think having a younger couple, or at least someone close in age, teach you allows you to see yourself in them more and identify with them (at least that worked for us!). Also, we felt like clients would feel more comfortable in asking us the necessary-but-embarrassing questions than they would an older couple.
Anyway, so last night I was looking forward to catching up with some friends with families but unfortunately a lot of them didn’t come. Instead this left us time to meet some new couples and families, which was just as fun! One woman and her husband sitting at our table had specifically come to try to find a doctor who could help her with her cycles. She went into excruciating detail of her hormonal problems within like the first 5 minutes of meeting her (Mike struggled to keep down his food) and luckily I was able to introduce her to some people who might be able to help her. Although this woman was really probably the master of TMI and her kids had some crazy names, I really applaud her and her husband for trying to follow the Church’s teaching on contraception. Using NFP is definitely not the easiest route to space children even if you have regular cycles, and in the face of that difficulty I can see how it would be very easy to write it off and proclaim that its not possible for you because you are the exception to the rule, the one that needs to be on the Pill. Here this woman was at 36 after 14 years of marriage with many, many miscarriages, 2 miracle children, and several cysts that required surgery, still admiting that she had some fertility left and that it would be wrong to remove any “parts that were causing these issues”, despite the fact that she was in pain and did not want anymore children.
No one said this path would be easy or that it would be without sacrifice, but we all know the mantra that “Nothing worth doing is easy”. The benefits do outweigh the sacrifices, although sometimes its hard to see past the obstacles in our way. We can never completely put ourselves in someone else’s shoes and know their situation, but it also helps to look to others, like the woman from last night or saints, for inspiration along this path to holiness and to remember that we aren’t walking it alone.