Maybe We CAN'T Talk About NFP Without Giving Offense

It's NFP awareness week. A quick glance at my header will tell you where the husband and I fall on the ol' sliding scale of fertility/NFP competency (but just in case it's: high/low). This is a mommy blog. This is a Catholic blog. This is the PERFECT place to be able to talk about all of this stuff . . . the blessing part and the cross part of ALL of it: NFP and babies and kids and hyperfertility and infertility and miscarriage and everything that goes along with Catholic womanhood.

But it's not easy.

Because some folks (like me) have plenty of babies and can't NFP themselves out of a paper bag, but mostly feel equipped to handle a big family.

Some folks struggle to be successful with NFP but have grave reasons for postponing pregnancy.

Some folks can easily use NFP to space pregnancies.

Some folks celebrate practicing NFP as almost a religion unto itself.

Some folk appreciate NFP because they've used it to successfully become pregnant.

Some folks have an open heart and open arms but fewer children than they'd like or no living babies at all.

And most of these situations are hard. Some are REALLY hard. Some are really really hard and feel exactly opposite of each other. So how can I talk about MY specific struggles while at the same time acknowledging and validating all other possible experiences?

I don't think I can. I don't think it's possible. And I think it would make for really uninspiring and watered-down blog posts.

I actually said this to a fertile friend after Mass last week: "Ya know, I'm not actually feeling all that protective of my uterus anymore. If something happened to it, I don't think it would be the end of the world." If I say that on this blog, it will be seen by folks who could totally relate. But it will also be seen someone who has had procedures and surgeries and medications in the hopes of somehow getting her uterus to hold onto a pregnancy.

Maybe she will be hurt and offended.

So where does my responsibility lie?

Well, in addition to pregnancy and babies and fertility, I've also had the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy on the brain lately. And I THINK therein lies the answer.

The Spiritual Works of Mercy are as follows . . .
  • Admonish the sinner
  • Instruct the ignorant
  • Counsel the doubtful
  • Comfort the sorrowful
  • Bear wrongs patiently
  • Forgive all injuries
  • Pray for the living and the dead
for the corporal works of mercy printable, see this post

As a blog writer and a Facebook-sharer and a person who also sometimes interacts in conversation with real live people, I have a responsibility to "comfort the sorrowful." That means I need to be aware as I share my experiences from my side of the fertility spectrum, that there are folks on the other side. (And, frankly, I'm convinced it's WAY more sorrowful over there.) I can share my perspective (and really that's the ONLY one *I* can share) but I should avoid generalizations and probably try not to be flip.

But. As a blog reader and a social media participator and a conversation-haver, I also have responsibilities. I am required to "bear wrongs patiently" and "forgive all injuries." The way *I* read that, it means it's not the responsibility of people coming from another perspective to not offend me. It's MY responsibility to not BE offended.

There's nothing in there that says "Discuss only what is agreed upon by all," or "Tip toe around the easily offended."

So if I read something from someone else, who has found NFP to be a breeze, or who thinks no one should do NFP ever, or who thinks everyone should do NFP always, I need to understand that HER perspective isn't the same as mine, because her experiences aren't the same as mine.

The fact that I read it . . . and it stings a bit, doesn't mean it shouldn't be allowed to exist in the world. It doesn't mean it's not a valid perspective. It doesn't mean that she shouldn't get to create community around her experience.

It just means that God made us different. And that *I* just got an opportunity to grow in virtue.

Happy NFP Awareness Week, ya'll.

Here are some of my other posts about NFP:



Mailbag: Do I Still Have to do NFP if My Life is at Risk?

why I DON'T use birth control: an NFP Awareness Week Wrap Up

And another one on a related topic:

Opting Out of Mommy Angst in Three Easy Steps