We Are More Than Our Cycles

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"We are more than our cycles" by Sterling Jaquith (CatholicMom.com)

Photo Credit: Darren Coleshill, 2017, Unsplash, CC0 Public Domain

You know when you really don’t want to be THAT person and then suddenly, when you weren’t looking, you became that person anyway?

I remember picking Simcha Fischer up from the airport. She was going to speak the next day at a conference my friend and I had been organizing in Portland. I don’t remember if she had just gotten a puppy or if her family was considering one but as a former dog trainer, I found myself excited to chat about all things canine. About 15 minutes into the conversation, she says, “This is so different. Normally by now people are asking me about my 9 children, charting cycles, and navigating the difficult waters of Natural Family Planning.” She is an NFP guru… if you haven’t read her book, The Sinner’s Guide to Natural Family Planning, you should!

I laughed and thought, “Really? Do Catholic women talk about NFP all the time?”

At the time, I only had one daughter.

Flash forward five years later. I’m currently pregnant with my fourth baby. I’ve been pregnant seven times and my husband and I haven’t even celebrated our seventh wedding anniversary. It seems that every time I visit with one of my Catholic friends, we very quickly dive into the topic of cycles, super-fertility, infertility, new NFP apps, and whether or not it’s worth it to BUY ALL THE THINGS to help us maybe go one year without being pregnant.

I became that person.

As a Protestant convert, I can tell you that the other side of the fence isn’t talking about this nearly as much if at all. Now certainly this is because they don’t have the wonderful resources we have like the Catechism, which helps educate us about the best way to live out our faith. And while it doesn’t say we have to be pregnant all the time, it says we shouldn’t be on birth control unless it’s absolutely medically necessary. The majority of the Protestant camp doesn’t feel held to this standard so they’re not having as many kids and they don’t need to talk about NFP all the time.

But here’s my question. Do we really need talk about it all the time? Does it need to make an appearance so often? Do I really need to know how regular your cycles are to be friends with you?

Now this is my own particular problem because pregnancy has been heavy on my heart lately. Perhaps you struggle with spending too much time talking about schooling or decorating or any other topic without actually seeking to resolve it or pray with your friends about it.

Let us build each other up and lead each other to Christ instead.

One thing I miss a great deal is talking about Jesus, Bible studies, and Scripture. My Protestant friends would constantly be telling me what they were reading, what they were learning, or which verse was really on their heart that day. We would talk about how difficult it is to be a Christian in the world today but that God is calling us to live counterculturally. We’d pray for each other, out loud, right then when we were struggling.

In seven years I’ve never prayed out loud with a friend about her or my struggles with Natural Family Planning.

To be honest, I don’t have the answer. I’m not sure I could stop talking about NFP. My super-fertility feels like a huge part of my life just as I know this is true for my friends who struggle with infertility and secondary infertility. We often feel defined by these classifications. The pain is real.

I want to share real pain with my friends, but it often sounds a lot like doubt and complaining and less like drawing each other to Jesus.

Instead of focusing on what we want less of, let’s focus on what we want more of. I want more conversations about Jesus.

I want to talk about His endless mercy and love. I want to quote Bible verses and saints to each other. Let us build each other up with hope. Let us come together and pray for each other, out loud.

Lord, help my friend find the strength and grace to live out her vocation. Calm her fears and help her to rest in you. Help her to put all her trust in you Jesus. Let her know she is loved beyond measure. You see her struggles and you also see how good her heart is.

Let us open our Bibles more and start a Bible study. Even if we’re busy, we can do one alone or attempt one online. We’ve got Jesus-sized problems and only He can help us.

Here are some great verses we can share:

1 Thessalonians 5: 11 “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”

Isaiah 40:31 “but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and now grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.”

I want to stop using my own words all the time to talk about my struggles or to respond to the struggles of my friends. Instead, I want to share something great I heard in a Fr. John Riccardo podcast or saw on a Fr. Mike Schmitz YouTube video. I want to give wisdom to my friends instead of just head nodding and saying, “Yeah, I know . . . it is hard.”

Here’s my challenge to you today. Read your Bible, listen to a priest, crack open that Catechism, read something from a saint, etc. Then share it with the next friend you see. Let her lean on you and try to give her some comfort with the wisdom our beautiful faith has to offer.

Let us start putting these spiritual bouquets out into the world.

Copyright 2017 Sterling Jaquith

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About Author

Sterling Jaquith is a wife and mama to three girls under 5, lives in Boise, Idaho and is the host of the Coffee & Pearls show. As an adult convert, she had to discover Catholicism on her own. She is so in love with the truth and tradition of the Church that she dedicates her life to helping lukewarm Catholics discover the passion and joy of our great faith! She writes at www.sterlingjaquith.com.

6 Comments

  1. Unfortunately, most non-traditional Catholics who take their faith seriously stress way too much about nfp. Nfp is only ok in very serious circumstances. Catholics should spend more time making and enjoying children than worrying about nfp. Why stress about the best part of marriage- love and kids. It was a leap of faith for my wife and I to do that went we went full trad, but worth it. We have 3 little ones. 3,2, and a baby. Can’t wait for number 4. Dump nfp unless you are one of those rare cases where it is licit.

    • I love large families! Thanks for being open to life Joe! I certainly didn’t mean this article to start heated conversations about NFP or reasons to practice it. Rather, I find that I have been guilty in the last few years of complaining about crosses instead of praying with my friends about them. So no matter what we’re struggling with, let us lean on each other but also be quick to point each other back to the Lord. I hope I can be brave enough to pray, in the moment, with my friends for the struggles they’re having.

  2. Great post! I think you brought up a great point: NFP is an important topic, especially in a society that promotes such distorted views of sex, but how we talk about is also important. When we put the struggles in the context of Christ, it will be a much better conversation.

  3. Sterling Jaquith on

    Absolutely Kate! And I guess I’m calling out myself here. I’m comfortable praying out loud and yet I don’t do it with my Catholic friends! The next time we dive into the struggle of motherhood, NFP, finances, marriage and just… life… I want to turn it to Jesus and pray right then and there!

  4. My point is simply, if large groups of Catholic women are getting together to discuss how they are all using nfp, things are out of wack. That’s not how it’s supposed to be. Second, I know you meant well, but I really don’t like it when people thank you for being open to life. It’s a commandment- not an optional bonus feature. No one thanks me for not beating my wife, nor should they have to. It shows how bad things have become that we’re congratulating each other for simply doing our job.

  5. I think we’re so inclined to talk about NFP with likeminded people because there are so few likeminded people in our vicinity! (At least for me). But I agree with the article for sure, too.

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