We wanted a family, we just didn’t want to get pregnant.
A few days ago, I had the incredible experience of seeing the first live images of the sweet little delight who will be my first daughter on an ultrasound. Finally, the tiny creature that has taken up shop in my wife’s womb for the past 5 months had a face. The idea took on a pronoun, “she” and I had never felt more in the right place at the right time in my life than being in that room to see her for the first time.
It did not always feel like this. I remember late January when my wife told me that she thought we were pregnant, and I was very hesitant to believe her. I knew she was right, but my mind couldn’t add up the equation. NFP + Frustration + Virtue + Frustration = Baby. Isn’t NFP supposed to be more effective than contraception?*
**This is because NFP is based on an openness to life. The capacity for life is not an afterthought or a side effect of NFP, it is its foundation. If you want to abstain from children- excuse me, if you want to control when your child is not conceived then use contraception. (Don’t use contraception- I’ll get to this.) If you want to block out the purpose of your marriage, use contraception.
Simply put, if you don’t want Life in your marriage, use contraception. If you do want life in your marriage, use NFP. Life is good. Use NFP.
Let’s return to my equations. I learned that NFP = Openness to life. I have learned that openness to life means cooperating with the Creator:
It means that your marriage, from the altar to the bedroom, includes three persons. You, Spouse, God. This isn’t some weird shade of grey. It’s actually logical. If God is the one helping sustain the bond between man and woman in the Sacrament of Marriage, shouldn’t he be a cooperator in the fruit of that bond? NFP is saying, “God you keep us together, now we trust you to bless our togetherness with the same love you showed us at the altar.”
Don't Be Afraid
I share all this to speak to my generation and those of the past:
“BE FRUITFUL AND MULTIPLY. “
I and my wife like so many young couples were afraid to bring new life into an already great life and relationship. We wanted a family, but didn’t want the work of pregnancy and changing our lives. We were SO COMFORTABLE that it felt like every day was a honeymoon. All of that is great, but I am telling you after seeing my daughter sleeping on that little TV monitor, my wife and I would trade all of our “honeymoon” days just to spend more time with her.
Because to live a life for others is the greatest gift God could ever grant us. I wish that was the central message at most NFP trainings for new couples, instead of “NFP it’s 99% effective in abstaining from children”. Nonsense! Don’t sell me a car and tell me how eco-efficient it is to keep it parked in the garage.
Tell me how awesome it is to drive! Tell me where it can take me, tell me about all the special features it provides to make my family’s life better!
So to my fellow millennial newlyweds or those getting ready for marriage, don’t fear your pregnancy! Yes, be responsible…but don’t wait until your 35 to have kids. You might not be able too. You marry someone because you intend to start a family with them.
Did we plan our little girl? No, we did not pick a date, but yes, we did plan for her because we were open to life from the start, and cooperated with God when he thought we were ready. She was a surprise to us, but was so perfectly timed by God.
I am not advocating everyone to go out and make 8 kids because responsibility indicates proper care given to each child. However, when I first learned about our daughter it was this line from the Catechism that gave me strength in prayer. Children are a sign of the parent’s generosity.
I have never liked stingy people. God is not stingy. He did not need to create us, he did not need to save us and yet, we exist today with an incarnated crucified Savior. I think Millennials get a bad rep for being stingy. Stingy with their time, stingy with their money. Our children will save us.
Openness to life is a sign of the parent’s generosity. Generosity is a title that should be reserved for the saints. There is not a single saint who was not heroically generous with their lives. Better said, if you don’t want to be a saint, don’t be generous.
A life lived for others is the greatest gift God could grant us, this is why you need not fear pregnancy or fertility. Embrace it, and Holy God will embrace you.
Be generous as God has been generous.