A new spin on things this year. Instead of talking about the science of NFP, how NFP is one aspect that helps us live our lives differently than atheists, feminine empowerment, or what constitutes just reasons for using NFP during this NFP Awareness Week and anniversary of Humane Vitae, I’m going to talk about things that NFP has made me aware of in my own life.
While no doubt I enjoy the science behind it, learning the theology of why NFP was a crucial point in me understanding religion that was finally consistent and to having a more complete understanding of what true love is and what it means to be human. I’m going to try to unpack a little more what that means, since its a little abstract. And this year, while being a sub-fertile NFP teacher has its own challenges and the worries about abstinence during Phase II seems like a distant memory compared to what I’ve continued to learn about myself by using NFP, I thought I’d focus on that.
Ultimately, the reason why its necessary to create awareness of NFP is because it helps change lives for the better. So in my little life, NFP has helped me by making me aware of:
- My limited fertility. Not in the sense that I am sub-fertile, but in that waxing and waning fertility is part of my life and by understanding my fertility I understand myself better. My fertility is not constant and should not be taken for granted. Even in the months that I’ve not actually charted (bad NFP teacher, but the perks of not needing to postpone pregnancy!) through the knowledge of NFP I am aware of my fertility just by going to the bathroom. Confusion has been replaced with knowledge and the ability to make an educated decision in regards to how we would like to grow our family. Even though we never have the concrete ability to say “YES a child please right NOW” and will a pregnancy, we will always have that potential and that understanding of my body, as well as how our bodies work together.
- How we are connected to other people. Using NFP forces me and my husband to stand together as a unit with God. Our fertility and our potential to co-create a life is only in our union. Our fertility is truly our fertility, not severed but connected at all times. It would be easy to think that I am alone in this marriage or I have problems that he does not understand or that I am independent of him. The truth is we are connected and we do need each other, when we discuss our life dreams and goals, now in the struggles of sub-fertility and with God’s grace, maybe one day through the blessings and trials of parenthood. Without contraception, we are completely unified in our efforts to understand our fertility each month and not separate beings who occasionally come together. This consistent unity has helped build trust in our marriage and I believe that filters into how we interact with other people in our lives. We are not as independent like we would sometimes like to think and relying on others and God has helped us live more responsively and connected with those around us as well.
- Our vulnerability as humans. I guess this ties into learning to be dependent (which did not come easily for me), but NFP has helped me tolerate, then accept and is leading to embrace my vulnerability as a human, which means that by being open I can love deeply and truly, but things are difficult at times and ultimately some things are out of my control. How can something so simple as acknowledging your reproductive capabilities and acting accordingly while honoring them do something so great? To be human and to live is to be vulnerable, but its easy to see vulnerability as a weakness when it doesn’t penetrate all aspects of your life, only some. Cutting out a part of our life, our fertility, and choosing to ignore it would mask that vulnerability. This has nothing to do with the efficiency of NFP, which is as high as contraceptive methods at postponing pregnancy (much more effective, however, at achieving pregnancy). By using NFP we either can realize that we are not all powerful, but vulnerable human beings who are incapable of creating life without God’s blessing, healing after miscarriages, or in need of His grace to help us through the day with our children and bless us through the difficult abstinence required that allows us to care for ourselves and our families present needs. Both options include NFP and allow us to healthily deal with our vulnerability instead of boxing it up and pretending like it doesn’t exist and that it is possible to do it all on our own. I can so easily remember my secular view that weakness and vulnerability is bad and that Christians are kept under slavery by their religion to think its good. But the fact remains that vulnerability is a part of life no matter how much we try to control it. If we can learn to have true peace during the hardest times in our life through Christ, then we can get through anything and our strength is limitless. I am not saying that NFP is a tool that will make this easier, only that it will make it possible. I still have to choose daily to accept it.
Since having the awakening that I am not all powerful and that there is a truth out there bigger and greater than I ever could have imagined was the start of my conversion process, I am grateful that I have learned about NFP to made that conversion continuous through all my days.
By using NFP I am aware of where my limits lie and where God’s take over.