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Giving Up (Birth) Control

In a world where we are able to control everything from the temperature of our water to our exact shade of blonde, it is no wonder that controlling all parts of our physical body is widely accepted. And, as humans, why shouldn’t we be in control? God gave us the intellect to learn and grow, and gave us dominion over His Earth.

I personally, understand the appeal of total control. I’m definitely a Type A kind of person, and I absolutely hate surprises. In fact I’m maybe the only person you’ll ever meet who despises breakfast in bed simply for the surprise factor. So I understand the inclination for a person to want to control every aspect of his or her life, because then there are no surprises. There’s nothing unexpected to throw off your plans. In fact the only thing that we cannot control is death, and yet though we may not know the hour, we all understand its impending finality will someday be upon us, no surprises there.

So what happens then, in a culture where everything becomes controllable?

Surprises become upsetting, even devastating.

It is common knowledge that when a woman begins puberty, she becomes able to bear children. But, if you are not willing to live by natural consequences, you can easily prevent this onset of fertility by using birth control.

What happens then to this same young girl as she ages, becomes married, and decides she wants to have children? Well then, if she has trouble becoming pregnant, the medical world has made it easy to receive all kinds of treatments from clomid to in vitro to ensure that she can control that too. Recently, there have even been medical advances which allow women to delay menopause indefinitely if they so choose, by using ovarian transplants. Not to worry however, because finally when this same woman has decided her fertility must once again come to an end, contraception is readily available and even sterilization to prevent all future “surprises”.

This woman who was at first devastated by her fertility is later in life devastated by her lack of fertility. Her complete desire for control has perhaps left her life empty both physically and spiritually.

That’s what happens when we try to block God’s control, our soul becomes tired and empty. We were not made to toil on this Earth alone, but to accept love, and thereby be filled. God made us because he wanted to share his divine love. His love is perfect, and His ever-generous gift to us is this life to share in His love and omniscient existence.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that, “God has placed it [the natural desire for happiness] in the human heart in order to draw man to the One who alone can fulfill it” (CCC 1718). We do not find happiness by creating our own, we find it in His creation. We have the opportunity to cooperate in His grace each day.

When in your life have you felt the most free? When have you felt the happiest? For me, it is when I give up control. When I decide to just let go and be happy. It’s when I let someone else decide for me, and know that His decisions will be far better than any I could make alone. Isn’t it ironic that happiness is most easily found when we give up that seemingly all-powerful control?

Well, I was that young woman. I was the woman who feared having children at “the wrong time”, who needed to be able to say exactly when each one of my children would be conceived. I was taught as a non-Catholic christian, that there was no sin in using contraception, and that it was morally prudent in order to best provide for your child or children. The very thought of having a surprise baby was both embarrassing and irresponsible.

And yet, all 5 of my children have been surprises! Not one of them was planned by me, but every single one of them was planned by God. And while it may sound overwhelming, trust me when I say that with every “surprise” I have felt more and more freed.

Just knowing that I don’t have to make the decision alone as to when it’s best to bring a new life to this world is freeing. Knowing that my husband and I can enjoy being a married couple and not have to stress about remembering to take a pill, finding a condom, or on the flip-side praying that an embryo made outside the womb will somehow successfully attach, is as close to perfect love as two humans can have. Fertility is a gift, “a child does not come from outside as something added on to the mutual love of the spouses, but springs from the very heart of that mutual giving, as its fruit and fulfillment” (CCC 2366).

We are currently pregnant, and I can honestly tell you that after the birth of our child, I am looking forward to the freedom and excitement of letting God plan our next child should we be so blessed. Nothing is more freeing than bathing in the love of God. Nothing allows us to feel more fulfilled then living the life that God has planned for us.

“As to the past, let us entrust it to God’s mercy, the future to divine providence. Our task is to live holy the present moment.” – St. Gianna Molla

6 replies on “Giving Up (Birth) Control”

Wow! I really needed to hear this right now. We, too, have been blessed beyond measure with 4 children and have recently been surprised in finding out that number 5 is on the way. At age 40, I really thought we were done, I was ready to move on to the next phase. I am once again reminded that it’s not really our plan but His and I need to remember to have faith in His plan. Thank you for this! The reminder came at a perfect time 🙂

I needed this right now too. We are expecting our fourth, and our third is only 6 months old. We are nervous, but trusting. Thank you for this article!

Our last two children have been “surprises” despite conservative NFP use. Yet as our first surprise taught us–who ended up being a precious little girl that our family ADORES–God alone knows what we need. In our wisdom, we thought it was a bad time to have a child, but as NFP-using Catholics, we always knew the door was open so we weren’t entirely shocked when God decided to step through it with another gift of life. That unexpected gift transformed our family in ways we never could have predicted…which is why we were nothing but thrilled when we discovered we’re pregnant again a few months ago! I love how you juxtapose the two attitudes about fertility–when you’re young, it’s devastating to have fertility but when you’re older, it’s devastating not to have it. The control you cite really is at the heart of our conflicting and neurotic attitudes about fertility. Thank you for a great article!

I know you meant this article to be encouraging, and I am sure that your life and family is beautiful, but this article actually made the temptation to use contraceptive more strong for me. I love children, but if I was pregnant 5 times, I would fall into a depression very quickly, I believe. The end result is good, but being pregnant is not. I am happy that you feel a peace about this way of living, however.

I rarely read an article that expresses how I (and my husband) feel about fertility, life, etc. This is it! I feel like a crazy person when I worry, quite counter-culturally, about getting pregnant again. I have two young children and am pregnant for a fifth time (I lost two to miscarriage, and the thought of another terrifies me). I need to remember to trust God, only in a different way than most may think. Thank you for this post!

Thank you for writing this article. It reminds me that we need to be open to God’s plan and following what God wants will bring us peace and happiness.

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