By Jeane Bishop
“The will of God will never take you where the grace of God will not protect you.” A friend included this quote in an email she sent. I quickly cut and pasted it for inclusion at the end of each email that leaves my personal email address.
This simple message reflects so much of what I believe about living a Christian life generally and marriage specifically. Each happily married couple that I know has a unique story of how they fell in love and have made their way together.
A big part of our story began when my husband, Bo, joined the Church the first year of our marriage. Although I’d grown up Catholic and regularly attended Mass for most of my college years, I had a renewed hunger to know God and be close to Him. Mostly, I grew in gratitude for the deep joy I was experiencing while falling in love and marrying someone who made me so happy.
I went along to most of the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA-Catholic faith inquiry) classes with Bo. We enjoyed this so much that we became part of the team ourselves the next year. We stayed on for two more years after that. Every Wednesday night, it seems, I had an “aha” moment when I gained some fresh insight into the faith that I thought I already knew before this whole process began.
Grace of Marital Chastity
A very significant teaching of our Church was illuminated for us at this time. The gift and beauty of chastity, both within and outside of marriage, was presented to us in a way that changed our hearts. This led to seeking out a married couple to teach us natural family planning. Greg and Linda, a wonderful young couple busied with jobs and young children, took the time to work with us while we learned more about the gift of our own fertility and God’s plan for family life.
Twenty-six years into our marriage, we believe this to be the single best decision we’ve made as a couple. The grace of the sacrament seemed to be unlocked in a new way when our life became more in line with this important aspect of married life.
Taking the “leap of faith” towards natural family planning (NFP) not only brought us closer together but it also increased my faith generally. I remember thinking that if something so seemingly illogical in the world’s eyes can be so absolutely right, maybe we can take God at his word across the board.
It has often been said that using NFP is like “divorce-proofing” your marriage. Statistically, NFP users almost never divorce. I’m sure it is related to a deeper level of commitment and communication that naturally develops.
What God has joined
Like everyone else, our life together has included challenges and joys. We’ve had heartache, joy, illness, success, financial worries…the whole experience. But we’ve never considered not being together. God has blessed us with five sons and one daughter who have brought us happiness beyond our wildest dreams The only complaint we have regarding our kids is that they grow up too too fast. Go figure. God is trustworthy.
[Thanks to guest contributor, Jeane Bishop, for sharing the best decision she and her spouse ever made.]