Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Tara K. E. Brelinsky

4/30/2013 (11 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Let Go Of Your Fear

While teaching Natural Family Planning, I realized that fear really needs to be addressed. Often we have lovely, young couples register for our course to fulfill a marriage preparation requirement. Or sometimes they've attempted to self-study and feel the need for more instruction. Patiently they sit through our witness talk and intently they follow along with the training, but sometimes I can see it in their faces or detect a hint of it in their questioning. The fear, the fear that they are not smart enough or vigilant enough to learn and apply the method of fertility awareness so as to prevent an unintended blessing.

Article Highlights

By Tara K. E. Brelinsky

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

4/30/2013 (11 months ago)

Published in Living Faith

Keywords: Natural Family Planning, NFP, fear, fertility


ZEBULLON, NC (Catholic Online) - Typically a coward of heights, I never dreamed of spending my days balancing atop an extension ladder, but the chipped and peeling exterior of our house begged for attention. My dutiful husband is a jack of many trades from fixing appliances to building chicken coops, but he proclaims a particular aversion to painting; therefore, the task of revitalizing the outside of our 1920's home fell squarely on my shoulders.

After choosing the perfect hue of buttery yellow, which my neighbor equated to the color of "cheap vanilla yogurt," I commenced the jobs of scraping and repainting the easy-to-reach portions.  However, it didn't take long before my arms-reach, as well as, my three-step ladder were insufficient. Lacking the superhero trait of Mr. Fantastic, I had to engage some problem solving skills. Without the gift of stretchable appendages, a ladder seemed my next best option.

It took a little self-hypnosis of sorts to talk myself up that first ladder, but work awaited and the time of a busy, home school mother is fleeting. I let go a little and convinced myself that a fall from a standard ladder couldn't inflict too much damage.

Now our lovely little home was built on a downgrade, so while the front door was a mere three steps from the solid ground, the rear was two-stories above stable earth. That standard ladder only raised my stature to the lower heights of the our home's backside and painting only half of the house didn't appear sensible. An extension ladder became unavoidable.

As far back as I can remember, heights have posed an unwelcomed challenge. I was the kid who scaled the jungle-gym only to become paralyzed at the summit and tearfully beg for rescue. Ferris wheels are totally off-limits and even today escalators require a mental strategy.

Ratcheting the extension ladder far above my comfort-level, I offered myself a pep talk. First I attempted flattery, telling myself how brave I was and how beautiful the house was going to look. Next, came reasoning, if we couldn't afford to hire a painter, I simply needed to finish the job I'd begun and set the right example for my children. Lastly, disillusions of Supermom grandeur flitted across my brain, but they were too readily refuted by the reality that I'd never been able to scale a tall building nor race anything much faster than a speeding toddler headed for an open outlet.

Step by step, paint supplies balanced in my right hand as my left hand secured its death grip on the metal side rail, I inched ever higher toward the firmament. Positioned at the ladder's apex, I briefly dared to look down, a long, long way down. The flattery suddenly flattened and that reasoning seemed less, well, less reasonable. My previous risk estimations made from atop the standard ladder somehow didn't ease my mind because from this height surely parts could break that might not be mendable.

Surrender and prayer were my last and best resorts. "Let go," I persuaded, "let go of the fear." Fear constrained me to the ground, but surrender could loose its hold. Reciting a prayer, I offered up my terror and released myself to the care and keeping of my guardian angel.

It's amazing how fear has the potential to overpower in some cases or to protect in others. Years ago I read a book by Gavin DeBecker called The Gift of Fear. In it Mr. DeBecker gave real life examples of how people's natural-born fear mechanism or intuition set off red flags and sirens in the presence of serious dangers. Those who listened typically avoided entering the danger zone or quickly fled before a perpetrator could inflict harm. Those who over-rationalized away their instinct generally paid a painful price. In those cases, fear was a gift bestowed on the individual, a signal by which they could gauge a circumstance or assess a stranger's unspoken intent.

While teaching Natural Family Planning, I realized that fear really needs to be addressed. Often we have lovely, young couples register for our course to fulfill a marriage preparation requirement. Or sometimes they've attempted to self-study and feel the need for more instruction. Patiently they sit through our witness talk and intently they follow along with the training, but sometimes I can see it in their faces or detect a hint of it in their questioning. The fear, the fear that they are not smart enough or vigilant enough to learn and apply the method of fertility awareness so as to prevent an unintended blessing.

The simply admonishment, "Be Not Afraid' would do little to help alleviate their worries. Instead the first step is to help them face their fear, to understand what misconceptions it may be tied to. Quite often the newly engaged or married women have been controlling their cycles through the use of hormonal birth control or contraceptive devices. These "outside forces" have led to the perception that fertility, or at least its suppression, is the responsibility of some "thing" not the individual woman.

Under the supposed control of a contraceptive, a woman may feel relinquished of her role in her own "healthcare" beyond the routine exam and prescription refill. If an unexpected blessing comes along, she can "blame" the little one on a contraceptive failure. Our current culture has led her to surrender herself to doctor's orders, so she typically never feels obliged to consider the risks (unfortunately too often doctors don't even bother to disclose the very real risks).

Here we, NFP teachers, are describing the difference between more fertile and less fertile, fertile mucus. Calculating 4/10° temperature shifts while determining the position and firmness of the cervix. Observation, charting, cross-checks, and prayerfully discernment are all necessary steps to becoming naturally aware of the signs and wonders of the female fertility cycle. NFP can scientifically claim an effectiveness rate of 99%, among other benefits, but it does require personal responsibility.

In the words of Spiderman's uncle, with great power comes great responsibility. The power to plan a family is definitely great, a great honor, a great blessing. But, our culture isn't much interested in personal responsibility, especially when profit can be made off of the notion that power comes from a pill or injection.

Fear, in the case of our students, isn't a helpful natural instinct, but an emotion fueled by a man-made distortion. Truly, the effectiveness rates of NFP are equal to the best contraceptive rates (though that doesn't mean they are morally or ethically equal). If a couple discerns a serious call or reason to postpone a new pregnancy, they are able to apply their knowledge to figure out what days of abstinence are required. Every couple is smart enough, every couple can learn to be vigilant enough to achieve their goal of postponement when necessary.

What is really at stake is the fear that a baby, an eternal soul, will be conceived and that they will not be able to care for or welcome the new member of their family. Like the extension ladder, they realize they might need to ascend above their comfort-level. They must accept total responsibility for their marital embrace, it must become something more than a carnal pleasure alone.

Yes, they should set their ladder on stable footings by learning how to accurately read the woman's bodily signs of fertility and infertility. Indeed they'll have to map out the location by communicating their dreams, and plans and needs. They'll raise their spiritual ladder by praying together and seeking God's Will each cycle. And ultimately, they will need to step up by assuming responsibility individually, through self-mastery of their sexual desires, and together, through a unified commitment to remain open to life.

At times they may need to surrender themselves, to surrender their fears, to surrender their man-made plans. Because often God will change a couple's heart. He'll challenge their limited notion of happiness. But while a fall from the height of my extension ladder had the potential to inflict fatal harm, a careless slip in NFP can result in the gift of a brand new life.

-----

Tara K. E. Brelinsky is a home schooling mother of seven living children, with six more heavenly ones who intercede (and a little soul expected to arrive in August). Married to her childhood sweetheart, they make their home in North Carolina where they teach Natural Family Planning, grow a garden, raise two dogs, a cat, a fish, ducks, roosters and a flock of hens (in addition to all those wonderful kids). Tara studied journalism a lifetime ago in college, but now she writes simply for the the glory of God. You can read more of her musings and inspirations on her blog "Blessings In Brelinskyville" (www.http://brelinskyville.blogspot.com/).

---


Pope Francis calls for your 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2014
Respect for Women:
That all cultures may respect the rights and dignity of women.
Vocations: That many young people may accept the Lord’s invitation to consecrate their lives to proclaiming the Gospel.



Comments


More Living Faith

Pope Francis distributes Bibles, asks Catholics to perform acts of charity

Image of Bibles were handed out to all visitors regardless of their religious affiliation.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis has given out tens of thousands of Bibles to people that he hopes they will keep and use daily. The gifts were distributed in St. Peter's Square following Mass. The gifts came with one string attached however, Pope Francis asked all people to perform an ... continue reading


Seminary is not for those who do not wish to 'get on with life,' Pope admonishes Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In addressing the Pontifical Leonine College of Anagni, the Pope did not mince words. Pope Francis was forthright in saying that the seminary is not a refuge for those who have "psychological problems" or lack the courage "to get on in life." LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


Pope Francis apologizes for abuse scandal, says Church deserves to pay Watch

Image of Pope Francis embraces a child in St. Peter's Square.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis has made his strongest statement yet about the scandal of child abuse in the Catholic Church. Pope Francis made clear that victims of abuse deserved an apology as well as compensation for what they have suffered.  He reaffirmed that the Church will be ... continue reading


Pope Francis makes special plea, but is asking us - Are you listening? Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis continues to call for aid to the poor as the holiday season ends. The Holy Father has set a goal to eradicate global hunger by distributing food more equitably around the world and he has called on all faithful Catholics to help. It's a call that can't be ... continue reading


'The Devil is here, even in the 21st century,' Pope Francis warns Watch

Image of Life is a constant battle against evil due to the presence of the devil, Pope Francis said, admitting that even he

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The devil is very much alive in the 21st Century, Pope Francis warns, and he often takes the form of gossip. The pope confessed that he himself was tempted to gossip, and the faithful need to stay on their toes. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Speaking in the ... continue reading


The Protest Against Evil and the Rise of Atheism: Is Evil Really the Problem?

Image of Adam and Eve deny their creatureliness in the Edenic Paradise, desiring to be as gods without God, and thus commit original sin.

By Deacon F. K. Bartels

It sounds very nice, a world devoid of suffering and every type of evil. However, there are some problems with such an idea, at least for now, given the present situation. What would it mean for us if there were no potential for evil? Atheists often reject God in ... continue reading


How I Read Myself Into the Church Watch

Image of

By Deal W. Hudson

It's said that people don't read much anymore, that we live in a multimedia age, and that the act of reading is on the wane. These prognostications have already been proven false. Nothing can replace reading a book as the most intimate medium of enjoyment and ... continue reading


Pope Francis calls for greater effort to combat human trafficking, highlights Church responsibility Watch

Image of Human trafficking is a profound world problem, but the Church is uniquely situated to help.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis continues to tackle the problem of human trafficking meeting four victims as well a group of Church sisters and law enforcement leaders in a renewed effort to work together to end human trafficking. VATICAN CITY (Catholic Online) - Pope Francis met ... continue reading


Every person should have a Bible. Can you help those that don't?

Image of The Bible is the single greatest inspirational book ever written. No person should be deprived of its hope.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

There are hundreds of thousands of people, possibly millions, who want a Bible and cannot have one. The Bible is the world's most sought-after, most printed book. Bibles are in so much demand that we have them in hotel rooms, prison cells, and on virtually every book ... continue reading


Pope Francis beseeches world to not forget the elderly and dying Watch

Image of Pope Francis said he sensed he had a duty to answer the

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis has urged young people not to neglect the elderly who are dying "because no one cares for them." Meeting with five young Catholics from Belgium, he said that the young today sometimes forget that their elders are pushed away from view, where they die ... continue reading


All Living Faith News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Isaiah 50:4-9
4 Lord Yahweh has given me a disciple's tongue, for ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 69:8-10, 21-22, 31, 33-34
8 I am estranged from my brothers, alienated from my ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 26:14-25
14 Then one of the Twelve, the man called Judas ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for April 16th, 2014 Image

St. Bernadette
April 16: On April 16, 1879, Bernadette -- or Sister Marie-Bernard, as she ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter