"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?

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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