As I was traveling to Charleston for the marriage preparation weekend, I couldn't help but reflect on just how much has happened in the past year. This same weekend last year, The Man and I gave our very first witness talk about NFP. At that time, I was planning to leave my existing position to begin working with children with hearing loss again. Many things happened to prolong my staying at my then-current job and many things I wanted to happen in regards to working with children with hearing loss didn't. But what did happen was we told our story for the first time. We answered tough questions about the difference between NFP and contraception. And we were invited back.
Since this weekend last year, we have shared our story many times, but we've also been to and from Texas as we became a teaching couple and as a result of sharing our story, I was called into ministry. A year ago, I had my "plan" and sitting here today in the same pastoral center as last year, I can't help but look at the "then" and "now". This year, The Man is not with me (something silly about having to work since he had so many days off this week ;). Why oh why must we have money?), but the couple who is giving the NFP is witness is wonderful and I know they will reach the couples in the room. And while a part of me will always miss the classroom and my sweet kiddos, I am comfortable in my own skin professionally in a way I never knew was possible. I can't describe it, but The Man has said I am more self-confident than he has ever seen me. I'll take that as a compliment thankyouverymuch.
I also can't help but think about the differences and similarities regarding our TTC journey. It's strange how similar the feelings are today as they were last year, especially considering how far away from these feeling I felt for so much of the most recent months. Last year, I felt like we were sitting on a huge secret and I was still planning each month just how we could tell our families that we were expecting. We were 5 cycles in and still in that phase of almost pure hope, though I always just *knew*. This year it's not such a huge secret, but I found myself going to those plans again as I drove yesterday. Thinking of and planning for sweet ways to share the news that we so hope to share one day soon.
The difference in the planning, was the innocence of it all last year. The feeling of *just knowing* this was going to be the cycle and having the "plan" for sharing the news all ready down to the details. This year it is more a general, "we'd get to tell them on x holiday or y holiday." There is a temperance to the hope that I'm somewhat glad for because it shows I've learned something and can somewhat protect myself from the crash that may come as I come down off this post-surgery high.
Just over two years ago we put our marriage totally in God's hands. We dug ourselves out of the depths of doing it "our way" and opened our hearts to His way. When we share our witness, we stop at this point. We talk specifically about how our marriage has gotten stronger and how much healthier I am. What we don't share is what has transpired over this past year. What we don't share is that without learning NFP and surrendering to God, we probably don't make it to today with our marriage intact. When I consider what the last year would have looked like without the year prior, I physically shudder and I see only the mercy and grace of God.
For 5 years, we were unaware of the harm that contraception was causing to our marriage. For one year, we saw, almost immediately, the healing that came to be when we removed contraception. And for the past year, we have seen the fruits of this healing amidst the deepest struggle and heartaches of our lives. What a difference a year makes.