It happens every time we see one another. You suggest that I take a pill to artificially control my body and I resist. You recommend it again and I resist again. On this most recent visit, you pushed it more firmly because I told you I am getting married this year. You told me that certainly, if I am now going to be sexually active, I should get on birth control.
No. Not today, doctor. Not today or ever.
We joke about it and it is great that after much prodding you let it go and then quickly send me on my way, but I want to explain better to you why you will not convince me to go on birth control as I approach my wedding day.
I look forward to standing next to Daniël on the altar and committing my life to him in this sacrament in front of our friends and family. I am overjoyed at the thought. During the Mass, within the exchange of vows, the priest will look at us both and ask, "Will you accept children lovingly from God, and bring them up according to the law of Christ and His Church?"
To accept means to consent to receive. We will both answer yes and agree to receive what God wishes to bestow upon us in our life together. This will not be a half-yes, it will not be a maybe yes...it will be a resounding and wholehearted yes. When I say yes to this question, I am making a covenant with my Savior, and a covenant is not something I take lightly.
If I say yes and tell God that we will accept children lovingly and openly from His hand and then decide to use birth control in my marriage, I would be lying to God. I would be telling God, who I trust is all good and all loving, that I do not trust His plan for my life. I would be telling God that when it comes to how many children I can handle or afford, I know better than He does. Doctor, I do not believe God will give me eight children if I am supposed to have four, and I do not think he will give me four if He wills me to have eight. If I were to say yes on my part and then use birth control within my marriage, I would be declaring to Him that we want our marriage to be life-giving...but only when we want it to be life-giving. I do not know better than God, and in all of my days I never will.
Indeed, I am Catholic, and indeed I do have friends with seven and eight children. And I can tell you that the joy in their homes overflows. Indeed, I see only a fraction of the challenges and the frustration they experience, but I witness much more joy, much more grace, and much more love than challenge and frustration. I witness to God's provision for them...when they worry about how to provide for all these children, all these gifts...God has always come through. Their families are reflective of God's love and grace and the abundant gift that children are.
Aside from the possibility of controlling the number of children I have, I do not want to control my body artificially, nor do I want to risk the odds of experiencing the debilitating side effects that can come along with doing so. Women have had strokes, become permanently injured, and some have died because of birth control. You always fail to mention this to me. Women dying because of this pill is a deep and serious problem too many are sweeping under the rug. I will not choose to take something that can be so dangerous simply to keep my body from bearing children.
Doctor, you joke and you tell me that couples like Daniël and I are the reason you buy a new car every year. I am glad that people like us are the reason you can buy cars. If God deems me worthy of being a mother and you get a car because of the paycheck you make from delivering our children, all the better for both of us. I have heard from many that motherhood is beautiful, challenging, stunning, sacrificial, and most importantly the most wonderful gift. I believe it. And I am not afraid because I believe that the grace that God gives us is far beyond what we can fathom.
I will never deny God the ability to grant me such a gift. I will never tell God what my limitations are - He knows them as well as He knows every hair on my head.
So as I stand and say yes to marriage, yes to a covenant, to a sacrament in December, I will mean yes. I will be handing myself over, surrendering my life once again to the will of our good God, who has never failed me. I trust God with every aspect of my life, every one of my days. He sees the scope of it and I know deep in my soul...whether I have zero children or seven, in all the hardship and all the joy...it will be magnificently beautiful and exactly as He designed it to be.