A Letter to my NFP Instructor

My Natural Family Planning instructor, dear sweet Rebecca Grady, recently retired. My weekly column for the Southern Cross was to thank her.

Dear Rebecca,

I heard recently you are retiring as the head of Natural Family Planning for our deanery and I wanted to take a minute to thank you. Does that seem silly or over the top? Not to me.

When I first heard about Creighton, the method of NFP you are trained to teach, I was at the end of my rope. I was a young Catholic wife and mother trying to follow the teachings of the Church and feeling very insecure in my abilities to stay sane with three little boys under the age of three. Life was intense and while I wanted and needed to obey the Church (be open to life, not take contraceptives to prevent pregnancy) I was feeling quite desperate indeed. I had not found a method of NFP that gave me the confidence and peace I needed. I love children, I just didn’t need them all at one time.

Discovering the Creighton method was a lifeline, and you were a big part of that. I would make my monthly appointment with you to come learn the method and talk with you and really (to be honest) to just spend time with you. I loved getting to know you!

One of the biggest things you did for me was to remind me of WHY this church teaching was so important. In your gentle way, without pointing your finger or casting guilt or blame, you always brought my focus back to Jesus. You taught NFP, and you taught it well, but you knew at the heart of all of this was recognizing and appreciating the gift of fertility and how we use this gift to grow closer to Christ.

There are several methods of NFP, which is wonderful that we have options. The method you teach ended up being the method that worked best for us. By “worked” I mean not just that it helped us postpone pregnancy in those years when having another baby would have pushed me to the limits of my sanity and abilities (though we certainly would have survived with God’s grace), but a method that made sense to me and Paul.

We don’t necessarily appreciate that our fertility — and the question of whether or not it’s time for another baby — is something we won’t think about our entire lives on earth. When you are in those years of building a family, you think your fertility will always be The Thing you think about. So for young Catholic couples, it really is a significant part of living out our faith — trust in the Lord, relying on his grace, confidence in his will for our lives, the miracle of life, the gift of answered prayers. We learn all of these things as we seek out our sanctification through obedience to the church’s teaching on achieving or posting pregnancy.

Rebecca, during your years as my NFP instructor, you were the hands and feet of Jesus to me. You reminded me why we do this, you reminded me of the gift of children, you helped me keep a sense of humor about it all and realize that, ultimately, our trust is in the Lord and his plan for our life. We ask God to show us his will, and we use our wit and intellect to make decisions along the way.

My prayer is that all our NFP instructors, those in our deanery and diocese and throughout the church, will have the same wisdom and joy you have. I pray they will share with young couples Church teaching on family size in a way that helps them really get what it’s all about. It’s not about having all the babies you can physically handle, but having a heart that is open to God’s will, and not just our own personal vision.

I came to you as a young mom with three little boys and I won’t lie, at that point three was plenty! And then I learned the method, which was great, but more importantly learned that trusting in God’s love for me sometimes means I can do more than I previously thought. And because of that, three more beautiful Balducci babies are now a part of our life.

Thank you for everything. For your love and patience, for your generosity, and for all the good you did to build the Church. God is so very pleased indeed.

So much love,

Rachel

meeting Is

Comments

  1. Beautiful, Rach!

  2. What a beautiful testament, Rachel! I have NFP to thank for two of my “babies”! I’m so grateful for all the women who sacrifice to teach.

  3. Thank you for this, Rachel! I shared it on my blog, with a little tribute to you, too.