God: He’s In Our Bedroom and Our Bank Book – Part I

Not our actual bedroom. Looks cozy though, doesn’t it?

Sex and money. In our (abysmal) Pre-cana class before getting married, we were told that sex and money are the top two things that newly-weds fight about. They then proceeded to skip over all the virtues and talk about the “love languages” and how those would help us avoid all the sex and money fighting yet to come.

After being married for 2.5 years, I can see why they would say it. Because those are the two places where we are the most unwilling to invite God; our bedrooms and our bank books. But if God is not invited, how can He really bless us? This post looks at the bedroom.

Last Sunday at Mass, our priest said something that has been turning over and over again in my head ever since: We claim that we are Christians, that we believe in God, but we do not think to ask what His will might be for us before we make huge decisions.

And what decisions can a married couple make that affect them more directly than (a) how to spend their money and (b) how, when, and for what end to make love? Not many.

When Atticus and I met, I promised myself it would be different this time. After failing to live the virtue of chastity so many times before, I swore to God and myself that this time would be different. In order to be different, I had to act different. So I did.

I knew the only way that I would be able to live chastely would be if I let God change me. If I let Him into my bedroom. So I did.

The very first thing that Atticus and I did together was pray. On our first date, we prayed a decade of the rosary before we went out for brunch. In that decade, I laid my heart and his at the feet of our Blessed Mother, and trusted her and her Son to do the rest.

We invited God into our bedroom on our very first date. Of course that meant something very different from what it means now, but the intent was and is the same. God is a part of every aspect of our lives together, and He has been from the start.

He would be regardless, because He created us, He brought us together, and He is the lover of our souls. All of that would be true even if we didn’t believe it. However, we invited Him in, and it has made all the difference.

That’s not to say that we have never made mistakes, because we have. We did not make love until we were married. We were learning NFP in order to avoid a pregnancy until I finished grad school. But then we looked at the cycle beginning just before our wedding and realized that I would most likely be fertile during the second half of our honeymoon.

So what did we do? I wish I could say that we willingly sacrificed for each other and abstained while I was fertile. Or even that we simply left it up to Providence and made love anyway. But we did neither of those things. Even though we knew it was wrong, we got some condoms. We closed the door on God and said, “Sorry, but just this once, you are uninvited.”

And it was awful. Maybe it was because we had only made love for the first time four days before, and the memory of sex the way it is supposed to be was still fresh in our minds. Or maybe it was just because we both knew we were violating out consciences and each other, but it was just awful.

We would rather go without sex than to ever use contraception again.

This same invitation goes for discerning our family size, which is directly related to when and how we make love.

For some reason, people seem to recoil in horror when you tell them that you’d like to have as many children as God wants you to have. Why is that? What is so threatening about the concept of allowing God’s will to play a prominent role in determining how many children one has?

I’m guessing because in this culture of fear we live in, most people conflate “as many as God wants me to have” with “as many as biologically possible”, which is of course, like saying that a banana is the same as a steak.

I’d be willing to wager that only a very, very few people are called to have as many children as biologically possible.

People will look at larger families who practice NFP to space children and say, “Well, it obviously doesn’t work. They have five (or six or seven) kids!” What they fail to fathom is that anyone could possibly want five (or six or seven) children. But for those of us trying very haltingly to live the virtues, we know a valuable lesson for treading this rugged path: we act our way into being.

If we act open to life, we become open to life. Not using contraception makes you not want to use contraception. I have never once since being married thought to myself, “Gosh I wish I was on the Pill so I could do x,y,or z.”  And I spent years on the Pill. All it ever did for me was to mask symptoms of a health problem and give me justification for bad behavior.

Being a mother is hands-down the hardest thing I have ever done. And I taught middle school in the inner-city. It has stretched me, and changed me in ways that it will take the rest of my life to fully grasp. I’ve made no secret of my trials in new motherhood.

I’m not saying “I want to have as many as God wants to give me” as a naive woman who is only up at 3 am when she’s out late with friends. I am saying that as a new mom, who wonders every day if I am doing it right, and if I can ever be worthy of what I have been entrusted with. I am saying that to myself and to God, hoping I embrace it more as each day passes, hoping that He will always be invited.


17 thoughts on “God: He’s In Our Bedroom and Our Bank Book – Part I

  1. This is good, Sarah. I’m right there with you! We are really struggling with sleep right now and it is HARD. And yet I joyfully pray for God’s will to be done in regard to our future children. You are so right that by acting open to life, we have truly become open to life!

  2. It’s really amazing what a difference trusting God in the bedroom makes. Of course, there’s the feeling that what you’re doing is profoundly right. But on top of that, it’s just plain better. It’s that full giving of yourself, and it is unreal. It is learning to let go, and realizing that God is so much better equipped to handle your life than you are. Not to say that you don’t have a hand in it, obviously – I mean, He gave us brains and hearts and personalities for a reason – but letting go of the things you can’t control, and trusting God to handle them is immensely freeing.

    Great post, Sarah.

  3. Hands down one of the best posts I’ve read in a long time! Seriously! I want to give you mad props for putting down these words so well. I love to see inside your heart and your relationship with God and your husband…..:-)

    Thanks for reassuring me that we can let God into our bedroom and trusting him to handle these decisions. Great advice for when I get married on Saturday 🙂

  4. What an incredible post!! I’m an unmarried woman, but in a relationship. It is truly a blessing to read this today as I look to my future. Thank you!

  5. I really enjoyed this post, Sarah.
    I’m not (anywhere near) married, but I hope I am one day… but even more, I hope I can find someone with whom I can be equally committed to making a God a key part of our relationship and decision.
    Thanks for sharing 🙂

  6. Sarah, once again, I absolutely loved this. You make such a beautiful point about desiring God’s will in terms of family size. Who else’s will would we want? Our own? Do we really think we know better than God does?
    I also love how you have addressed being open to life as someone who is “walking the walk” — facing the challenges of being a mother day in and day out, and still submitting to God’s perfect will and trusting Him. I am right there with you, and it’s certainly not always easy.
    Thank you for writing about this topic with such compelling honesty. I’m looking forward to your next post about God in our bank book…I don’t think about that nearly as much as I should.

  7. Such an awesome post!

    “I’m guessing because in this culture of fear we live in, most people conflate “as many as God wants me to have” with “as many as biologically possible”, which is of course, like saying that a banana is the same as a steak.” Yes, and yes again!

  8. I love your honesty. It makes me feel like I’m not the only one who has closed the door on God in the past. Awesome awesome post!

  9. This is awesome and it’s so true! I guarantee you that when my husband and I learned NFP we (at first) were thinking we were learning it so we WOULD NOT have five (or six or seven) children. But you’re so right the way inviting God in changes you. By inviting God, you allow Him to continue His work in YOU, whom he created! It’s such a beautiful path.

    Thank you so much for sharing this. It’s lovely!

  10. This is such an amazing post, Sarah. Thank you so much for your honesty. I really feel enriched by reading your thoughts on the church’s teaching and how that truth has been realized in your own experience. Wonderful reflection!

  11. A comment related to this post and your previous one– I attended a baby shower in Nashville with my daughter. This shower was for one of the women who attend a tutoring service that also includes Bible study. Most women are studying for their GED tests. The director of the program spoke for about 5 or 10 minutes on the fact that motherhood is a ministry. She told all the women, most of whom are single mothers, that you do not need to be an official preacher or missionary to be in the ministry. And I agree. Sarah, I think you also see motherhood and homemaking as a ministry. Fatherhood should also been seen as a ministry. I would guess that many or most of your readers see motherhood as a ministry.

  12. Having “as many as God wants me to have” sounds a lot more appealing when we’re talking about at least SOME children, because ok great, I don’t get to plan out the exact months they’re born in but they will eventually come. Inviting God in doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll show. I never thought I’d be experiencing this flip side of things, and just because you don’t use contraception or you want to conceive a baby and are ‘open to life’ doesn’t mean it will be easy. I understand how women using NFP eventually have a lot of kids, because it makes them open to life. But what about people on the other side, when they can’t have kids? Does it always make you more open or just more bitter and angry? I think the tendency is towards bitterness and it takes much more than just not using contraception to be truly open to life when there is no tangible, cute benefits running around (even if I’m sure they are a pain sometimes).

  13. Such a great, honest post. I think it’s so important to share with each other how we struggle with NFP throughout the course of our marriages. Sometimes people tend to think that the initial conversion is all that matters, but we have to live out every single day our commitment to the decision to practice NFP just like we live out our commitments to our spouse every day. But pretending like it’s easy just because it’s good and right doesn’t do anyone any favors.

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