“It’s all thanks to you and this class.” I stopped shuffling my notes around and looked up as the weight of her words settled over the room. “If I hadn’t shown my doctor my NFP [natural family planning] chart, she might not have discovered my underlying health issue.” My student’s eyes danced with appreciation and affirmation, and her confidence in the benefits of NFP could have instilled some doubts in Margaret Sanger herself.
As a natural family planning teacher, I see all types of students in my class. The couple with crossed arms and a disconnected look on their faces as they fulfill a marriage preparation requirement. A wife who sits next to a vacant chair, pleading for advice to help her convince her husband to get on board. The seasoned couple who basks in the glow of conversion after ten years of living in the dark. The engaged lovers who snuggle close as they look forward to a marriage rooted in the will of God.
Every couple my husband and I teach is different. Every love story is unique. But within each story, the same miracle is waiting to happen: the moment of illumination, the sunrise of hope, and the revelation of the Truth.
We see it in the reluctant nod during class as we discuss the negative effects of artificial birth control. We see it in the curious couple who approaches us in the church parking lot, asking for class information. And we see it in the couple who is willing to show up to class, even if they don’t yet realize its importance.
But one of the most satisfying moments an NFP teacher can have is seeing one of these students fall in love. Not just with their fiancé or spouse, but with the promises of NFP.
Anyone seeking real happiness has to strive to make his faith his own. It must become an unshakeable source of strength that stems not from outside information, but from the wisdom of Truth revealed to an open heart. This is often a turning point that my husband and I have the pleasure of witnessing as NFP teachers--that moment when the flame has not only been lit, but can no longer be contained. The signs are unmistakable: a thirst for more knowledge about NFP and the Theology of the Body, a sense of intimacy and mutual respect emanating from the heart of the relationship, a joyful peace even in the midst of challenges, and an urgency to share all of this with the rest of the world.
These signs were all present when my student spoke with me after showing her chart to her doctor. As a nurse herself, my student had seen several cases of blood clots that were caused by the use of hormonal birth control, so she was grateful for an alternative that posed no health risks. Because of her NFP chart, she’d been able to acquire the medication her condition required, her overall health was improving, and she and her doctor were convinced that they had significantly reduced her risk of miscarriage before any pregnancies had even occurred. She was thrilled that something as simple as a few abnormally low temperatures on a chart could tell her doctor something that the rest of the medical profession couldn’t. She’d already told several of her friends her story and encouraged them to look into taking a course in natural family planning.
My student had fallen in love, and her joy was contagious. Even her normally reserved fiancé vocalized his concern that more people weren’t exposed to the information provided in our class. But it was one of her final statements that made sacrificing a lazy Saturday morning to teach class completely worth it. “We’re talking about my children here, even though they haven’t been born yet.” That statement encompasses the promises of NFP: a respect for the female body and the future lives it will nurture; a consideration for authentic marital love and the graces it will bestow on its fruits; an openness to the will of God and His plan for each human family. All promises that reside as an unspoken understanding within the lines and numbers on a chart. All promises that no doctor can fulfill, but that God has already given us. We have only to take our spouse’s hand and walk together toward the miracle of revelation that awaits.
Copyright 2015 Charisse Tierney
Image credit: truth-newspaper-news-printed-text-166853, PD, Pixabay
About the Author
Charisse Tierney lives in Wichita, Kansas, with her husband Rob and seven children. Charisse is a stay-at-home mom, musician, NFP teacher, and a Catechesis of the Good Shepherd catechist. She is also a contributing author to The Catholic Mom's Prayer Companion and Family Foundations magazine. Charisse blogs at Paving the Path to Purity and can be found on Facebook.