Let me start his off by saying that I love Natural Family Planning, or NFP. Many of my friends are complete pros at using it, and I find myself in awe of their faith in action. That being said, I must confess we're not exactly the best with NFP. We've done the reading and figured out the rudimentary facts of how it works. I have been able to look at it objectively and see that it is a wonderful, natural and intelligent way of looking at the gift of our fertility. Subjectively, however, I just don't feel that it's right for our family. From before we got married, my husband and I have always felt moved to simply let things come as they will. Any attempt to plan has always led us into great spiritual frustration, which is fruitless for ourselves and our family as a whole. When we have simply lived our lives according to the daily movements of our spirits, we have felt closer to God and to each other. I believe that God inspired the good people who worked out the science of NFP for the sake of His people. He created each of us, and so I trust that He has a plan for each of our families in how we should approach our fertility. In my heart of hearts, I believe that when He created my husband and I, He created us knowing we would be happier following the voice of our spirits instead of the signs of NFP.
I know that I will accept whatever God gives me. I know that this is the same for my friends who use NFP. Let me clarify that we're not going to go above and beyond to try to conceive 100 children or whatnot. Thus comes our ideology of Natural Family UnPlanning (which I will not abbreviate, as it doesn't have the same clean sounding name as NFP). Even that's a bit of a misnomer. I realise that while I may not be trying to plan my family according to my means, circumstances, and the calling in my hearts, I am depending entirely that God has a plan for our family which He is revealing as we continue on. I guess the difference is that we're completely handing over the control over the scheduling to God. A great example is that right now as we speak, I, for the first time since the 2nd month of our married life, am not pregnant. My body needed a break, and our growing family needed extra attention, so God has worked in His plan that I won't be pregnant for now. This means that, as my husband is suffering with some medical issues, I have been able to devote my love and energy on him without shortchanging our kids. If I was pregnant right now, I would, knowing my history of pregnancy, be overly tired and cranky (okay, I'm still be cranky) and probably increasing in width as I decreased in my ability to do the physical tasks needed to help him cope with these medical issues. God has blessed me with a lack of fertility right now. If He chooses to bless me with fertility later, I will embrace it, and any children that come from that.
As I went in to tuck my little monsters in to bed when I got home from grocery shopping, I was struck by the immensity of God's blessings. If we had used NFP to observe our fertility, I wonder if we would have each of them. The only time we actively tried to have a baby was with our first child, and that was because we felt so strongly called to have her at the time. After her birth we researched NFP, but dropped our books in favour of simply allowing whatever would happen to happen. With 4 little miracles in our 6 years of marriage, I feel that we made the right choice to trust our fertility to God in this way. He took our simple offering and, as He does with all things, has made something greater than we could have imagined. He made us a family. A big, noisy, very messy, blessed family. I have never, not even once, regretted any one of them, even when they're acting insane and I'm feeling like I'm the ringmaster of a three-ring (or is that a 4-ring?) circus gone awry. I'm left at the end of each day exhausted, a little relieved, and a whole lot of thankful for each of them (even the one who has recently taken to biting. Ouch!).
When we were Franciscans, our Superior taught us that the greatest calling of spiritual poverty was to be able to trust entirely in Providence. I guess a part of us never let go of that little lesson, tucked into every homily, every formation day, and every chat we had with him. We've never had to go begging on the street like our holy brothers and sisters, but God has made us the benefactors of His great and continuous Charity through the hands and hearts of so many friends, family and even strangers. Our children have always had a roof over their heads, we've always had transportation, and we've never lacked for food. While we may lack patience some days (and often are at the bare acceptable minimum of clean socks), we always have an overflowing store of love in such abundance that I can easily imagine God doubling our family and still having more. So long as we're called to live this way, I know we will continue to rest entirely on God's mercy, trusting as always that His plan for us is for our good.