||I am a 38-year-old woman with four young children. My husband and I are finding it difficult to be open to the Lord's will for our family. Should we remain open to having more children? I, personally, have allowed fear to enter into my mind, while I try to keep my heart open for the Lord's calling. I suffered through a deep valley of post-partum depression after each child, but since they were so close together, it wasn't until after my youngest was about 3 months old that I "saw" just how down I had gotten. (We had just moved into a new house, my husband was traveling with work, and it was right before Christmas!) But...I admit that I am afraid to go back into the dark now that I have come out of it. We are not planning to make anything permanent in terms of obstructing conception. But, how do I know what to do?
Immediately when I read your beautiful letter I was filled with courage. I felt such a strong witness before the Lord in your letter. You are an inspiration to me. I want to thank you and praise the Lord for sending your letter this way. I kept hearing in my spirit the scripture 1 John 4:18: "There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear."
I read your letter before I went to bed. My husband and I had gotten in late from grocery shopping. During the night I was called to our home altar (angels do that, when you need to pray for someone) and offered up your intentions. I want to articulate to you what I feel the Lord would have me tell you.
First and very importantly we are talking about two separate issues, Postpartum Depression and Birth Control. Let us sort through this with that in mind.
Post Partum Depression is a serious illness that requires the careful attention of a health care professional. It is an illness in every sense of the word. It is not a weakness or a failure on the part of the dear mother who suffers from this condition. You are very wise to understand that this condition requires your diligence and observation. I am going to assume that your husband is aware of your struggle with this form of depression and lovingly and responsibly helps to care for you and see to it that you receive the best of care. I believe the fact that you are aware that you suffer from this condition, should certainly lead to you speaking frankly with your health care provider and together work as a team to effect a good outcome. God love you. Please continue to seek and take the care that you need. The Lord does not want you in the dark. His love is too great and merciful to want this sorrow for you.
Being open to life begins early on in our relationship with our spouses. It is obvious that you and your husband have spoken frankly about future children. This is your greatest gift. Having a spouse that understands your needs and allows you to express your fears is a treasure from the Lord. Continue to talk to one another. I would suggest that you seek the wise guidance of members of Couple to Couple League.* There may even be a chapter close enough for you to attend. Speak with your spiritual advisor or parish priest. I would also suggest that you find the publication on Life, Humanae Vitae. In this inspired publication you will read the beauty of the words that exhort each human to be open to life. However, you will also learn that the Church has wise counsel for those persons who must postpone or delay pregnancy. Being open to life does not mean that we are called to have as many children as we physically can during our child bearing years. This is a false belief usually stated by those outside the faith, who do not have a clear understanding of the Church's teachings.
The love that has grown between you and your husband through the years of marriage and child rearing will continue to uphold and uplift you as you go about the process of discernment. More importantly however, the Lord Who loves the two of you more than you can imagine, wants you to find peace with this issue. He wants to guide and direct your thoughts and choices. He will put the right people in your path and He will open your heart to receive their counsel. Go beyond the fears and seek information that will help you learn the path you and your husband are to take. I will tell you this, directing our actions within the Lord's will brings great peace despite the hardship that may accompany this faithfulness to His will. This peace is worth more to me than I can ever express.
There have been times in our marriage that we have had to delay pregnancy for varied reasons. The Lord was faithful to His word and gave us the strength to practice Natural Family Planning. I can not begin to tell you the enormous graces that were showered upon my husband and myself. Remember that the Lord desires to bring you away from the fear and into the Light of His perfect Love. Fear is an emotion that destroys. Combat fear with two tools: prayer and information. The Lord will honor your prayers and help you find the information.
Dear Jesus, we bring the concerns and prayers of this dear sister in Christ to You today. She needs Your perfect peace in order to calm her spirit and remove fear from her heart. We know that You are a good, tender, and powerful Lord. You are in our lives and want us to know the healing available from Your presence. We ask that You send her and her husband the graces necessary to continue to seek information and to continue in their faithful walk. We love You, Lord Jesus, and desire only to do Your holy will, for in so doing we draw closer to our Heavenly goal. Amen.
Dear One, spend some time in front of the Blessed Eucharist. You do not mention if you are Catholic. If you are not Catholic, then ask a Catholic friend to take you to the church so that you may sit quietly before the Lord. He is there waiting in the True Presence. He will listen carefully, attentively and lovingly to all that is on your heart. He will hold you in His arms, calm your fears, and embrace your sorrow as His own. Then He will empower you with the guidance of the Holy Spirit to walk the right and true path.
* The Couple to Couple League teaches the method of family planning entitled Natural Family Planning. Visit their website at https://ccli.org for more information and to find a local chapter.
Sending out a prayer,