NFP as a single, college age girl

You wouldn’t think that the words “Natural family planning” and “single Catholic college girl” would work together in one sentence very well. Well, until now that is.  It’s not just for married couples – the concepts introduced with Natural Family Planning are concepts that can affect every one’s life, regardless of what stage you’re at.  So why now? 

Because you shouldn’t wait until you are married to start thinking about your fertility.

It’s easy to think that the time we have right now while in college is not the time to be worried about fertility and all that jazz.  We’re young.  We’ve got our whole lives ahead of us.  Yet let me tell you something – it is becoming more and more obvious to me that life is literally flying by quicker than I can blink.  My little sister just graduated from high school.  My co-worker just got married and now has a beautiful little baby.  My college peers are graduating.  Life is happening, and snap you’re fingers and you’ll be at another stage of your life.  Don’t wait until you’re married to start thinking about how to take care of your health and fertility.

Because you should know where you stand on the issue of birth control before you are in a relationship.

The number one reason marriages don’t last anymore? Failed communication.  When birth control was first introduced to the public scene in the early 1960s, it’s affect on issues like divorce wasn’t something that was on people’s minds.  This was about improving marriages! Less stress around pregnancies, littles, and a general well being of the family.  But come in the 1970s, and divorce rates doubled.  And it didn’t stop in the 70s  – the number of divorces tripled from 400,000 in 1962 to 1.2 million in 1981.

Why? Because birth control in a marriage says one thing and does another.  Sex, by it’s unitive and procreative nature, says “Here is all of me!” but the addition of birth control tacks on “Well, all of me except my fertility.  And our future children.”  And that communication can tear down a marriage that is meant to be, according to the Catechism, “ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring” but instead reduces both members down to the sum of their parts.

Because it’s not birth control…which is what my doctors want me to be on.

It seems now a days that any medical issue that arises in a girl’s life is a case where birth control is prescribed by her doctor.  According to a study conducted in the United States, from 2006-2010, 62 percent of all women in the United states who are of reproductive age are currently prescribed some form of contraceptive birth control.

I’ve been there.  I’ve sat down with my doctor and heard how medical issues would be easily, quickly, and painlessly resolved if I would just let her write a prescription for birth control for me.

But there are a lot of risks associated with just the pill – most of which are not gone over in the doctors office when the pill itself is prescribed.  The pill is actually a combination of two different hormonal medications: estrogen and progestin.  Because of this increase in hormone presence in the body, the pill carries with it many side affects, one of them being breast cancer.  Research indicates that the birth control pill itself will increase the risk of a woman getting breast cancer by over 40% if she takes the pill before she has her first child.  After she delivers her first baby though, the chances rocket to over 70% increase of breast cancer risk if she continues for more than four years.

My family has a very high risk of breast cancer on both sides of my family, so taking the pill for me would be not only putting my current health at risk, but also placing the time I spend with my future family at jeopardy
 as well.  Other than just breast cancer risks though, the pill’s side affects also include higher blood pressure, heart health issues, blood clotting, a lack of fertility once off the pill prescription, increase of liver and cervical cancers, difficulty breast feeding and a lowering of the immune system to AIDS and HIV.  

On top of all this, the cost of being on the pill for just five years is over $1,000.  I’m in college.  And I drink a lot of coffee.  The budget that I have for medication is very small – and to be purchasing something that acts as a band-aid for the medical issues that I do have, only to increase my future medical risks and costs isn’t a cost effective choice. 

Studying the concepts of Natural Family Planning – such as the charting and tracking of fertility – is one way that NFP has been a blessing to me as a single Catholic woman.  Instead of relying on artificial hormones, I’m able to utilize the concepts of NFP to track my fertility and expose a lot of the underlying issues that birth control might have covered up – like the simple addition of vitamins into my diet and a better awareness of my fitness and general health.  

Also, this book was incredibly helpful for that reason.  

Because your body is amazing…and knowing how it works is fantastic too.

Even if you’re not married, or heck, if you’re in the same boat as me and you’re not even dating, it’s no excuse to not appreciate how stinking amazing the human body is.  One of my dearest friends is in veterinarian school and sends me facts about the body and the reproduction system and it’s amazing. For instance, did you know that, for women, the smell of a newborn baby triggers the same part of the brain reward center as a drug addiction does?  God has literally thought of everything imaginable and to be able to learn about it is the bomb.

Although it may not seem like it, in your early twenties is the ideal time to learn all of this as well.  Down the road you may have a family, a full time career, graduate degree work, or any other number of amazing thing God has planned for you.  Right now is the perfect time to dig into the amazing work He’s laid out for us in our creation.

Because life is beautiful no matter what stage of life you’re in.

This morning at church I sat behind a family with five littles.  They were gorgeous – all of them under ten and full of life and energy.  And it was beautiful.  Am I utilizing NFP right now to plan my family with my spouse? Nope.  However, knowing how NFP works and the Church’s teachings concerning families right now helps so much when both interacting with families now and when I, God willing, have my own family in the future.

God’s plan for your fertility doesn’t start when you put on a wedding dress.  Or when you are called to start a family.  Or even if you are not called to marriage at all.  Your body is good. It makes it possible for you to be Christ’s hands and feet to the world around you.

This weekend we celebrated the Feast of the Ascension – yet another way that Christ tells us that our bodies are important.  He rises, body and soul, and ascends into Heaven.  If the body wasn’t important, Christ wouldn’t have a glorified one.

So take the time now to learn more about your fertility.  It is never too early to glorify the Lord with your whole self.

For further resources, check out these amazing websites:

– Couple to Couple League: A great way to learn the basics of NFP and how they interact in a – marriage.

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops: This website has some great articles about the religious explanation of why the Catholic Church supports NFP.

Carrots for Michaelmas: Haley Stewart is probably the most incredible Catholic mama blogger in my opinion.  She’s sassy, has an incredible sense of style, and, in her own words is a “homeschooling, bacon-eating, coffee-drinking southern girl with a flair for liturgical feasts and a penchant for bright red lipstick.”  In other words, who I want to be when I grow up.  She has a fantastic piece on her NFP experience over on her blog.

There are countless of other bloggers who have written on their experience with NFP – the good, the bad, and the ugly.  If you’re looking for some more information on the subject, drop me a note in the comment box and I’ll get you set up.

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You’re His "The One"

Tonight I was listening to a talk by Father Mike Schmitz about the beauty found in the sacrament of the Eucharist.  This post includes some of Father Mike’s thoughts with a little bit of Chloe-isms sprinkled in. 

We’re physical beings.  We have bodies that reside here on a physical earth, surronded by things that we interact with through taste, touch, smell and sound.  We connect with the tangible.  Although we have an eternal soul, we are able to experience the goodness God has provided for here on this earth with our bodies.

Including love.  And other people.  As someone whose love language is physical touch, I can so attest to this.  Body language speaks volumes.  There have been times that I have felt loved simply by someone taking the time to put their arms around me and give me a genuine hug.

Physical touch and contact with friends and family is easy to find.  It’s there in a romantic relationship too.  But what about my relationship with God?  How does my love language translate into my relationship with the Divine? There have been countless times that I have turned to my girlfriends and said “If only Christ could wrap me in His arms and I could feel his warmth in a hug.  And if He wore cologne.” That would be what they call the dream. 

love animated GIF

Luckily, Christ knows the aching of my heart and has the answer (does He ever not?).  He yearns to pull us closer to His heart.  He doesn’t want to just be acquainted with us.  Or be there when we need Him.  Or even be really close friends.  He wants to be intimate with us.

Father Mike tackled this subject of the physical desire, and said, “We shake hands with everyone.  There are a smaller number of people who we would hug.  Even a smaller number of people who we’d kiss.  A smaller number still who we’d kiss like that. And only in the sacrament of marriage are we called to give ourselves totally to another physically.”

Christ doesn’t just want to shake our hands, or give us a friendly nod as we pass Him in the hallways.  He doesn’t just want to give us a hug when we feel bad, or a kiss when we need some lovin’.  No – Christ wants to give His entire self to us.  All of Him.  His whole body, and even His very blood.

But to those of us who have been walking around the Catholic block for quite a while, that amazing mystery seems common place.  Going to Church this Sunday to receive the very body of the creator of the universe? Sure, we’ll take some of that.  We may or not be more excited for the doughnuts after Church though.

Yet day after day, we spend our lives yearning, aching for the one.  Not just someone, or a one, or anyone, but The One. We love love, and want someone to return the feeling.

Yet when we receive communion, every Mass becomes a wedding between you and the best lover in the history of forever.

A lover who knows me better than I know myself.  Who not only recognizes my hopes and dreams, but has plans to amplify them and sweep me off of my feet…and off the path defined by my will.  I think it’s time I got to know that lover better.  He knows the count of hairs on my head…and sometimes I can count the number of times I’ve prayed this week on one hand.

In the Song of Songs, the story of a lover who desires the good of his beloved is woven throughout the language of a fantastic romance.  But at the core of this is the story of a God who is enamored with His beloved.  You’re God’s “The One.”

Song of Songs 7:10 “I am my beloved’s, and his desire is for me.”

He desires us…are we willing to make Him our one

Falling in Love with Authentic Love

I love love.

Romantic comedies, Disney movies, life chats about relationships, engagement stories, wedding pictures.

My soul sister is Anna from Frozen because of her jump-in-head-first love mentality. (spoiler, that doesn’t end well for her.)

disney enchanted true love cinderella Giselle snow white anna frozen kristoff

So it may come as a shock that the idea of a dating fast has been on my mind quite a lot recently.  And that this semester I’m going to begin a search for authentic love.

And that doesn’t just mean no dating.  It actually entails a lot.

Whoa.  Giving up going out? Flirting? Stalking a guy emotionally (and on Facebook)? Giving up planning out your future children’s names and how they will look so cute in baby blazers and chuck taylors? Deleting that secret Pinterest wedding board?

frustrated animated GIF
What will I even do with all my time now?

I spent my last two years of high school anxiously waiting for college to finally get here just so that things could be different.  I spent freshman year with my fingers crossed that if I could get the right friends, do the right activities and be at the right places at the right times, things would change for the better.

A.K.A., I’d get a date.  Let’s be real here.

Family gatherings or life chats with friends quickly turn to a potential relationship discussion, followed by questions about when I was finally going to go out on date.

parks and recreation animated GIF
“Don’t worry, you’ll find someone someday sometime” 

I was living in a little world where I was looking for just the right guy, and in the mean time, I was an incomplete person, waiting for my better half.  I felt as if something was missing – something from my life was not there, and when I found that one piece of the life puzzle, it would all fall into place.

And I was right.

But it wasn’t a guy who was going to turn things around and lead to sunset-gazing, hand-holding, long-walks-together wonderfulness.

It was the guy.

Or specifically, this guy.

Because I had quickly forgotten in the span of my freshman-sophomore years that I am a daughter of God who is beautiful, unique, and worthy of love.  I had forgotten that I was worth more than I could ever imagine.  “More than how many girls wish they were me or how many guys wish they had me.  Regardless of who I thought I was, the reality was is that I deserved someone who would give up their life for me.” (And if you ever need a pep talk this is the one.)

And I had Him.  But I’d just brushed Him off into the corner to pull out when I felt like it.

I had let my “God journal” become my “Guy journal.”  I had so many talks with God on the walks back from class about if He could just work this one out than I would for sure make my daily Bible reading a priority again.  And I just needed a spiritual guy leader in my life to help me out.

The one day, I heard a question that shook me.

“If the guy of your dreams were to walk into your life right now, would you even be the kind of girl that he would be looking for?”

And I honestly had to say no.  I had spent so much time creating a list of characteristics that I was looking for that it had skipped my mind that I should be working on those virtues too.

 Enter the dating fast.

No dating for this Spring 2015 semester.  No mentally stalking guys.  No pinterest binge nights and rants on how I had everything ready for my future wedding but the guy (which, it turns out, is a pretty important part).

I’m giving God this semester not because I’ve given up on being found by a great guy.  Not because I’ve dated guys a lot during high school and college and have been burnt by it. Not because I’ve broken up with the concept of love.

parks and recreation animated GIF
Nope, not the reason 

But because I want to first fall in love with the man who died to get to know me.  Because I’m tired of walking into Mass and scoping it out for potential guys of interest.  Because I want to know what an authentic God filled relationship would look like.

Because my life needs some silent time to find out what the voice of God even sounds like…so that when He says “There’s the one” I know who is talking.  Or that if He says that and points to His son, I can respond without hesitation.

I am in no way saying that dating is a bad thing.  In fact, it’s very good.  You usually can’t end up with a great person unless you go on some dates with ’em.

But I don’t believe I’m going to be looking back on this fast in five months and saying “Darn it, growing closer to the Lord and treating people like brothers and sisters in Christ was such a waste of time.  Wouldn’t do that again.”

Is it going to be tough? Heck yes.  But one of my favorite women of God, Saint Catherine of Sienna, once said, “Nothing great is ever achieved without much enduring.”   

No one one their death bed looks back and wishes they hadn’t gotten to know God and His children better.

So, what are your thoughts?  Have you, too, struggled with emotional chastity and dating obsessions? Let me know in the comments below!

In Christ,

Chloe

You were made for forever

On my ride home tonight, I was flipping through car radio stations and happened upon Ed Sheeran’s “Don’t” – a new song of his.  I don’t highly recommend the song…there is a lot of not-so-favorable messages and language mixed in with a funky beat (which seems to be the go to in today’s music.)

But while I was delving into the words of the song instead of just the sound, I found it.  There, hidden in the bass line and mixed around with the techno beat is a desperate plea.

A call for forever.

Because we were made for more.

For those of you haven’t heard the song, the premises is that the singer met a gorgeous girl more than a year ago, but she jumped out of his life as soon as she came in.  Then, just last week, she’s back. 

Why is she back all of the sudden? He thinks it’s because this lovely lady was “looking for a lover to burn.”

So, instead of realizing the temporary lust she is enticing him to, he “gave her my time for two or three nights.” Then he does what she did to him….walks out for a couple of months until it’s convenient for him to return.

You know humans were made for more than that, right?  More than a one night stand.  More than temporary lust. 

Sheeran’s chorus (the radio version, sans expletives) revolves around the fact that he doesn’t want to know “that.”  He doesn’t want to know that this isn’t going to last.  That this girl and him are only as temporary as the lust burns…and after those feelings are gone, they’re both out of each other’s lives, looking for another quick flame.

Verse two continues the destruction of both parties and the objectification of the human being, created in the image of God. 

Sheeran’s infatuation  continues.  He “only wanna see her” for a couple of weeks after they’ve gotten back together.  She moves in, they bond over their hectic schedules and things look to be going quite smashingly.

Until it happens.

The next guy comes in the picture.  He’s cute.  She likes him.  They kiss.  Sheeran is confused.  How could she do that when “she knows” that it hurts him?  Her new man and her go all the way, and only a short time later, there she is, at Sheeran’s hotel door.

She wants love.  She wants authentic, will-the-good-of-the-other-as-other love.  And he can’t give it to her.

Why?  His heart has been taken over by lust and selfishness.  He claims “Trust and respect is what we do this for” but at the same time, he uses this young woman’s body for his own pleasure, without regard to the immortal soul that dwells within it.

He says that he never saw this other guy as a threat…”Until you disappeared with him to have sex of course.”  Yet he fails to see the irony in the fact that, just a couple of weeks ago, he was doing the same thing with her that he is now irritated at this second guy for.

” And I wasn’t looking for a promise or commitment,  but it was never just fun and I thought you were different.”

It was never just fun.

We can tell ourselves quite good lies, can’t we? 

“Everyone’s doing it.”
“It’s okay…we love each other.”
“It’s nothing serious. Really.”

Really?  Your body is making a commitment that your heart and mind can’t keep without the commitment of marriage. 

So, in a sense Ed Sheeran is right – Don’t.  Don’t throw your body right after your heart in the battle against lust.  Don’t reject the beautiful plan God has for you in favor for a temporary satisfaction.

Maybe I’m just rambling.  Maybe this sounds like “Ah lahmlahlah” to you.  But you, regardless of your gender or age, religious affiliation or education level, were made for greatness.

The creator of the universe created you. 

If you ever question your worth…just don’t.  See what  I did there?

Si vis Amari ama,

Chloe M.