Growing up, I would often ask my mom to “Just tell me what you want me to do, and I’ll do it.” She would remind me, instead, that she wanted me to look around and see what needed to be done and who needed a hand. I wanted a checklist; she wanted me to develop judgement and compassion. Hers was the harder, but the better, ask. My parent’s efforts to develop these skills didn’t stop me from repeating my same request to God as a parent. Tom and I didn’t always know what to do, and I know we would have appreciated a scroll from heaven spelling out exactly what we should do! That is not how life works—because we have been given the tremendous gift of free will. So great is God’s love for us that he invites us to become co-creators with him in his unfolding story of creation. Wow.
This great, awesome, fearfully wonderful responsibility of being co-creator with God manifests itself in creative work both big and small. Never more so than when a married couple participate with God in the creation of an eternal soul! And so, it is no wonder that decisions about parenthood give us pause—if for no other reason than that they are of the most serious nature.
We are often asked if NFP is used to postpone pregnancy, is that selfish or less trusting in God and his providence? Fortunately, St. Pope Paul VI, while not giving each couple a scroll with specific instructions, did provide us some great guidance in understanding the use and practice of Natural Family Planning. “The responsible exercise of parenthood implies, therefore, that husband and wife recognize fully their own duties towards God, towards themselves, towards the family and towards society, in a correct hierarchy of values.” (Humanae Vitae, #10) The good news is that NFP is a lifestyle that is “other centered”—the opposite of selfishness. It requires discernment, discipline, and sacrifice and by its nature shows us that we can be BOTH prudent AND generous. This is a holy lifestyle and since we are open to God’s gift of life in the practice of NFP, we honor God’s invitation to become co-creator.
This is why CCL’s ministry is so vital—it helps set couples on a path of grace and encourages them (and us!) in our decisions, reminding us that God is big enough to handle our decisions. When your partner is the creator of the universe you can trust Him to work all things for good! May God shower you with the unique joy of your creative vocation.
Originally written by Katie Zulanas, CCL Executive Director, for Family Foundations magazine.