Monday, November 1, 2010

Why NFP?

I became familiar with Natural Family Planning at a young age.

My family knew private topics to be public issues. There was no taboo or fear in the subject of sex-- Sex is beautiful. It is holy. It is incredible! [And it could also be widely adulterated, misused, misconstrued and so on!] My parents took the situation of sex most parents feared and turned it on its head. They welcomed conversation, honesty, and forthrightness. I felt privy to an understanding [the glory and goodness of sex] that I strongly felt my peers were missing out on—even when I was literally the one “missing out.”

NFP was a familiar concept: birth control guided by the respect for and understanding of the body in its entirety. A common sense approach updated by the science and research available today.

Due to a medical condition likely caused by an abnormally low body fat percentage [I was a runner. Enough said.], I was enrolled in classes for NFP at the age of seventeen. There was no family-on-the-way of which to be “planning” for. I didn't need NFP as a means to secure a conception or to avoid a pregnancy. [At that age, I likely thought 'yuck' to both.] I needed it to chart my body's needs. NFP did just that.

I took classes in the Creighton method at the local hospital with one of the most gentle Christian women I know to this day. She is a nurse squarely competent instructing her patients in attending to fertility. She was careful with my need for reminders and my frustrating inattention to observances [a skill that's a must when you're in the role of knowing one's body].

Through the classes:

1. I understood my medical situation, but more importantly, the gift of my body: fertility.

2. I also knew that this whole big thing [NFP] would matter much more when I was preparing for marriage and for sex. Both marriage and sex [the greatest of gifts for those called to the vocation of marriage] came at the same time for me. This, only by the supreme grace of God. And only by rejection of Him do I lose His graces!

Much of what I learned in my NFP classes was forgotten between seventeen and the altar. It was buried in the hook-up culture of college. It was lost in my [seemingly endless] years of alone-ness.
So, [deep breath induced by some stingingly fresh humility] when Paul and I entered marriage and 'its reward' [all with the knowledge of two different methods of NFP in tow – (We took classes for the sympto-thermal method pre-marriage as well)], we still had little concept of what NFP was really about. Yes, we successfully used NFP to avoid pregnancy. Vice versa. And then came Thomas. But we didn't really know how to embrace it. NFP isn't a sealant, a fix, a mechanism of control. Natural Family Planning is an approach to the body with a pro-life vantage point and stewardship!

And being “pr0-life”, being pro-NFP, is not about quantity [or lack thereof], as I have seen myself and others confuse, but about quality. It's a much larger picture than a “yes” or “no” to children.

It is about showing reverence to the beautiful breathing miracles all of us are: all ages, aptitudes, and conditions applied! It's about the consuming awe a couple feels for the ability to take part in procreation. It's about the respect a couple shows both in self-sacrifice and in fully giving. It's about saying yes to that great desire each of us pines for inside ourselves– to fully and completely, body and soul, embrace and be embraced with total respect!

Once again I see it -- the great difficulties of marriage are the flip side of those great rewards. The ultimate intimacy is in the ultimate vulnerability. There is not a much more vulnerable situation one can be in than each day re-addressing, re-approaching, re-affirming the thoughts, feelings, and actions stemming from fertility [and infertility too].

And that's why NFP!
This post was written for several reasons both personal and public. A couple promptings I may mention here:
  1. The outpouring of resounding affirmation [and debate] which followed this very well-written post by blogger, Jennifer Fulwiller, who is 'atheist turned Catholic' mother of four.

  1. A response to my mother reading Unhooked: How Young Women Pursue Sex, Delay Love and Lose at Both of which I haven't read but am incredibly intrigued due to the overflow of my mother's impassioned reading.

  2. At the core, I needed to answer the question of “Why NFP?” for myself. It's an easy question to answer. It's an incredibly difficult answer to live by!

I welcome any questions/responses on this topic. You don't want anyone to know your business? –-- completely understood! Feel free to email me at