A dear friend wrote something so important, so beautiful, and so honest for me, and it is my privilege to share it with you here today. A wife of 10 years, a mother to 4 on earth and 1 little saint, and a Catholic convert, I’m so grateful for her transparency and her humility.
Because NFP? It ain’t no bed of roses. But the thorns can be wonderfully refining.
I’m 4 kids deep into this motherhood thing, 5 if you count our sweet guy in Heaven. We count him, and wish it was PC for the world to count him too.
I am open to life. Not because I always want to be. Not because I can handle it. Not because it’s the cool thing to do.
But because God calls me to be.
Now that doesn’t mean that I don’t come into it most days kicking and screaming. I mean yes, in theory I can list all the incredible, awesome, fantastic ways that being open to life is God’s plan and even the theology behind it, but putting it into practice is a totally different matter.
So here I am, ready to waive my white flag and say that sometimes I wish I didn’t have to be open to life.
It’s hard to say and even harder to admit the hardness of my heart that wishes sometimes that I could say that I am “done”.
But just like I know better then my six year old (even though he doesn’t think so), praise the Lord, God knows better for me, too.
But y’all, that does not mean that this is easy.
And it does not mean that just because God wants this for us that the world, our communities, our churches, our friends or even our own families will support us.
And that is tough. How are we to live this “call” out alone, with no one cheering us on?
Maybe I’m wishing for too much. But doesn’t it seem like this journey would be a heck of a lot easier if more of us shared the “hard”, the “it’s not easy”, the “I feel like I can’t do this” with each other? We need each other, y’all. We need others there to say “I understand”, “I’ve been there” instead of saying or thinking “well then why are you having more kids???”
Because to be honest, I could use some cheering on right now.
If I get asked one more time “are you done?” and I have to politely smile and say “probably not!” all the while secretly wishing sometimes that I could be, I’m not sure how I’ll handle it. It might come out more of a grimace.
Sometimes I don’t want to put on a fake smile and convince people that I’m not done and I am JUST TOTALLY HAPPY ABOUT IT. Because sometimes? I’m really not.
Because being open to life sometimes does. not. make. sense. I mean why in the world would I not be “done” if it is so hard? That’s what the rest of the world is doing, after all. And sometimes I want to have a temper tantrum and say “I want that too!”
And it feels like if I don’t put on a happy smile and say “probably not, we’ll see!” I’m some kind of a fraud. Or am at least setting myself up for more comment along the lines of “don’t you know what causes that?/why don’t you stop?/he should get “fixed.”
And deep down…I do know that God knows better. I really do trust Him. I really do know that his plans are perfect. I believe that. Well, I try.
And I also know that fertility is a gift. I know some of you reading this may have a pit in your stomachs and wishing you were on my end of the fertility spectrum, and would maybe give anything to be in my shoes. And for any pain reading these words causes you, I am truly sorry. It’s not far off from my memory when we lost our first little one and tried to get pregnant for what felt like a life time. It’s also not far from my memory having surgery for endometriosis and enduring HCG shots to regulate my hormones to help us get pregnant. Or having countless progesterone shots to help me keep my baby. So I understand, even as I sound I know I sound like an ungrateful you know what. This isn’t exactly my proudest moment.
But if I’m honest, I’m just here trying to live out the call to being open to life and it is hard.
Hard because I want to determine the number of kids I have. I want to have sex with my husband and not worry about getting pregnant. I want to not gain and then (have to try so hard!) to lose 50lbs (again!). And I know all of those are selfish reasons. (And listen, I know a thing or two about good reasons to avoid too…I have had my hands full of health problems, children with behavioral issues and really rocky times in our marriage).
But maybe we could all use a bigger dose of honesty with this open to life thing??
Maybe my words will make one of you not feel so crazy or alone. Sometimes I have the feeling like everyone else is doing this open to life/NFP thing with JOY and LOVE and a SMILE and I’m over here wondering if I missed something. Can we all take a deep breath and let it out? I mean, c’mon I’m not the only selfish, prideful sinner, right??
So here I am 33 years old and I’m staring down who knows how many *more* years (I know it’s a blessing!) of fertility and the possibility (again a blessing!) of a few more babies, but I’m lonely in a world where being “done” is the norm.
Don’t get me wrong… I ADORE my kids! And I look forward to a Thanksgiving table in 20 years that is bursting at the seams. But some days I need to let my guard down and admit that if I had it *my* way I would like to just throw myself on the floor like my 3 year old before God and scream “ I don’t want to”.
But here’s the thing. When I sift through all my sin and my pride in this area, I come upon a startling truth: I truly am grateful for the boundaries of the call of being open to life, because I have a God that knows me and desires what is best for me: To be with him for eternity.
And He knows in order to get there my soul needs (daily!) refining, and that my path that is most particularly refining is motherhood (and marriage, but that is another blog entirely 😉 ).
Thank God – He knows me better.
Thank God – He wants more for me.
Thank God – He gave me the boundaries of NFP and the call to openness to life that gives me the opportunity to practice examining my conscience and my heart daily – hourly – to root out selfishness and pride.
Because if I said I was “done,” I wouldn’t be giving Him room to stretch me.
And stretch me He will – and you too for that matter, if you let Him.
So here I am sitting here before you, waving my white flag. Wishing I was “done” but knowing that I’m not and grateful for a God who gives me the opportunity to wearily lay down my white flag and pick up my cross and follow Him.