"Did you actually PLAN for this to happen?"
"You are finished after this one, right?"
"How many more do you want to have?"
"How can you afford all of those kids?"
"You live off of only one income? How is that even possible?"
I hear these questions (plus some) often enough to know that many people in this world are lacking one simple but essential detail in their lives.
Now I'll be the first to admit that when Buddy and I began our married life together, the idea of using Natural Family Planning filled our minds with anything but peace. We still had one semester left in college, so it seemed almost absurd for us to even consider something so...ineffective? Especially when using birth control seemed so simple and effective. At least, that's what the world was telling us.
Birth control = Normal.
Natural Family Planning = An effective tool for people who are ready to have a houseful of kids.
Am I right?
I'm going to go ahead and assume that we aren't the only ones who have ever gotten this impression. And to some extent, it's not so far off from the truth. These days, using birth control is normal, and many families who openly support NFP do actually have larger families. But if there's one thing I've learned on this journey, it's that the people who use NFP seem to have a greater understanding of what it means to have peace.
Now just because you pop a birth control pill in your mouth everyday doesn't means you aren't happy or that you never experience peace. I'm just saying that from my experience, the families who use NFP seem to have a greater understanding of what it means to trust in God and His plan for their lives. Because of this understanding, they experience a sense of peace that many BC users may never know.
As far as my own personal experience, Buddy and I always talked about having a big family. We dated for 7 years before we got married, so we had plenty of time to discuss our dreams. We got pregnant right away, and even after that (exciting but somewhat scary/stressful) first year of parenthood, we knew we wanted more. Then, after having two babies within two years, I started to question how many more we would have. My hands were full when Buddy was at work, and I constantly felt like I was running in two different directions. Baby #2 also gave me quite a bit of trouble with sleeping through the night, so that also played into my fear of having more children. But when Buddy was ready to have another and I could not deny the feeling that God was waiting for me to trust Him, I prayed. I prayed and prayed and prayed. I offered up my fear to Him, and He replaced it with peace. Peace and baby #3. Now we are going on 7 years of marriage and I'm pregnant with #4.
We are fully aware that many people think we a.) are crazy, b.) don't know how to use NFP, c.) are irresponsible, or d.) all of the above.
But you know what? We don't care.
God has given us the peace that we need to control the crazy feelings we (or I) sometimes get when people say rude comments like, "You know what causes that, right?" He reminds me in those moments that I am following Him, not them. He calls us to be an example of His love, and I feel like our openness to life is a something that He wants from (and for) all of us. (Not that we all have to have "large" families, but we should all be open to what His plan is for our lives.)
I'll admit, there are days when I do think we might be a little crazy, but I know deep in my heart that I am following Him, so it makes sense to me that the road I'm on won't always be easy.
"Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." Matthew 19:24
I still have moments (or entire days) when fear creeps in, but I'm only human, so I don't really expect that to completely disappear. But I can tell you that as crazy as it sounds, my fears of having more children are actually becoming less and less with every child. It has become very natural for me to stop and pray about my fears and offer up them up to Him because I know that He always provides me with the grace I need to overcome them.
He gives me peace.
And the best part is, that peace overflows into the rest of my life. By trusting Him with my family planning (which is something huge), I have slowly learned how to become more trusting with everything else.
It's good stuff!
Learning NFP isn't hard to do. It takes time and effort, and it's ideal if you learn it by taking a class before you are married, but if you are even considering inviting God into this part of your marriage, don't let anything scare you away from it.
I promise, it is so worth it.
Pray about it. Open your mind and your heart to what God has to offer. He created us. He knows us. He made our bodies work exactly the way He wanted them to work. He has a plan. Trust in His plan and you might just find that you've become closer to Him and to your spouse.
And in this closeness, you will find amazing peace.