Thanks for joining us for CatholicMom's next installment of #TOBtalk, where we're discussing the impact John Paul II's Theology of the Body has had on us. Today, Kaitlyn Mason shares how she learned to put God at the center of her marriage, thanks to what she learned in Theology of the Body.

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During high school and college, I worked as a pharmacy technician in a retail pharmacy chain. My experiences behind the counter were formative.

Women came in for birth control prescriptions like clockwork.

Men came in for enhancement drugs, occasionally arguing with us through the drive-through window about how many pills were covered under insurance. They were upset about the ensuing financial costs of intimacy with their spouses.

Customers tried to discreetly peruse the “family planning” aisle for contraceptives, bringing their selections to the counter for an awkward checkout experience.

Certain pharmacists refused to distribute the Plan B abortifacient, and we’d have to send those customers elsewhere and transfer the prescriptions. Once I saw a good friend’s name plastered across a Plan B prescription. I was under strict confidentiality regulations and never was able to discuss it with her … sometimes prayers are all we can offer as support.

While in high school, I was prescribed birth control for uncomfortable cycles. I happened to be at work the day the pharmacist processed my prescription. To my surprise, she turned to me and said, “Kaitlyn, you can never take birth control pills.” This pharmacist knew that I had recently been diagnosed with a clot of blood vessels in my leg, and there is a risk of clotting with birth control. I still wonder why the doctor never caught this error and thank God that this woman intervened before I swallowed the pills.

At this point in life, I looked forward to being married someday, and assumed I’d use some form of contraceptive once I was married. By the grace of God birth control pills were off the table, and I felt uncomfortable about other forms of contraception.

Something about contraception didn’t sit well with me. It didn’t seem right for people to know so much about the intimate details of other people’s marriages and relationships.

I now realize that’s because God intended for these intimate details to remain intimate between a husband and wife. Furthermore, contraceptive products, enhancement drugs, and abortifacients can prevent people from fully experiencing God’s plan for their lives. They can prevent people from fully acting in accordance with His will.

I wish I could say that I knew about the Church’s teachings on Theology of the Body as a child. I did not have this opportunity. Those guiding me in my faith journey were not aware of this teaching.

I wish I could say that I only encountered priests and adults who understood and promoted the Church’s teachings on Theology of the Body when I had questions for them as an adolescent. This was not my experience. Those guiding me in my faith journey were either ill-informed, or did not fully agree with this teaching.

It wasn’t until years later when my husband and I attended our Engagement Encounter weekend with the Catholic Church, that I was taught about the option of Natural Family Planning (NFP). We were walked through the Theology of the Body and listened to a couple enthusiastically share their personal experiences using NFP. I remember being amazed that throughout decades up to our present day, the Church’s methods of postponing and spacing births – when practiced as recommended – were equally as effective as the birth control on the market at that time.

We learned about how we were created to love each other openly, how our marriage could be a prayer to God, and how we could trust Him to plan our family. I remember thinking, “Why has no one ever told me this stuff before???”

At the end of the retreat we both still had questions, but we knew this was what God wanted for our marriage.

Looking back, I’m amazed at how close I came to being on birth control. How quickly young women are put on “the pill” before they’re aware of its potential consequences on their lives and future marriages! How many of these women continue to renew these prescriptions long into their marriages – never being exposed to the spiritually deepening truths of Theology of the Body, and the highly effective methods of Natural Family Planning?

Learning about marriage through the lens of Theology of the Body has been such a blessing to our marriage! It encourages us to trust God daily in every aspect of our lives. It allows us the opportunity to prayerfully discern whether God wants us to have a baby on a regular basis. It forces us to keep open lines of communication. It places God at the center of our marriage in a very real and tangible way.

If you have children old enough to know what contraceptives are, you may want to consider a conversation about God’s plan for them and the beauty of how they were created in God’s image. Let them know that their bodies are temples (I Corinthians 6:19). Inform them about how Natural Family Planning can play a role in God’s plan for their future marriage if they feel called to that vocation in life.

And if you are new to Theology of the Body, if you’ve never considered NFP before, or if you are on the fence, I strongly encourage you to check out Couple to Couple League's website, and contact your Church to find classes near you. Knowledge is power.

If you’re new to NFP and struggling to learn and grow as a couple in this calling for your marriage, hang in there! NFP is a powerful, effective tool that can strengthen your marriage and your faith in God!

I’m forever grateful that my husband and I were exposed to Theology of the Body before marriage. I am now blessed to be the Mother of three children. We have been able to prayerfully welcome each one of them into our lives and into our family.

Let’s equip our children now with this information – long before they need to make these choices on their own.

How can we share the truths of Theology of the Body with our children? How might this teaching change and mature as our children change and mature? How can we share the truths of Theology of the Body with other adults who may not understand our beliefs and choices? 

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How has Theology of the Body impacted YOU?

Be part of our #TOBtalk discussion! Leave your comments here and on social media, using #TOBtalk.

Join the discussion in person:

Inspired by the Jubilee Year of Mercy and last year’s Synod on the Family, the 2016 Theology of the Body Congress – an expansive gathering of top experts – will focus on how Theology of the Body and mercy play a vital role in how we live out family life. It will take place September 22-25, 2016 in southern California. Register here.

Sponsored by the Theology of the Body Institute, the 2016 International Theology of the Body Congress: Love, Mercy and the Gift of the Family will take place September 22-25 in Ontario, California at the Ontario Convention Center.

The Congress features an elite line up of speakers including Archbishop Jose Gomez, Christopher West, Dr. Edward Sri, Sr. Regina Marie Gorman, Jason Evert and Matt Fradd, and many more. Don't miss the in person discussions!

How has Theology of the Body impacted YOU? Join the discussion #TOBtalk

Copyright 2016 Kaitlyn Mason