Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Book Review: Sinner's Guide to Natural Family Planning by Simcha Fisher

I first discovered Simcha Fisher over at the National Catholic Register, and I've been following her blog, "I Have to Sit Down," for a few years.  I'm always sharing her stuff on social media and insisting that everyone I know read her stuff, so I knew I'd love her book, The Sinner's Guide to Natural Family Planning.

Cover photo from Amazon
I love this cover!
The book was published in October 2013, but I didn't get around to buying the book and reading it until last week.  I absolutely loved it!  Now, I'm doing what I always do with Simcha's writing, and I am insisting that you read The Sinner's Guide to Natural Family Planning.

She had me at the intro:
NFP boosters tend to paint a rosy picture because it's a hard sell, persuading people to turn their sex lives over to God.  And so, not wanting to scare anyone off, they emphasize the benefits while glossing over the sacrifices that often come along as a matched set.
I understand why they do this.  You're not going to convert the masses by saying, 'Hey, everybody!  Who's ready for some redemptive suffering?'  But so many couples launch into NFP expecting sunshine and buttercups and are horrified to discover, instead, the Cross.  
Unprepared to make any changes, they end up resenting their spouses and the Church in general--or else they feel guilty and ashamed to be struggling, like there's something wrong with them for not lovin' every minute of it.
That's who this book is for.   
FINALLY!!!  Thank you, Simcha!  Thank you for your honesty, your wisdom, and especially for your humor.  Thank you for admitting that NFP is hard and that it isn't always glamorous.  After reading your book, with all of its honesty about finding the Cross through NFP, you'd think I'd be looking for the quickest escape from NFP.  

Yet, I walk away from The Sinner's Guide to Natural Family Planning more determined than ever to keep sticking with it.  The Sinner's Guide to Natural Family Planning affirmed that: it's normal for NFP to be hard, it takes most couples a lifetime to figure out this stuff (hooray for lifetime monogamy!), we are soooooooo not alone, prudence and generosity aren't at odds after all, Love is always better than fairness, and that we've "chosen the better part" by dealing with the effects of sex head on in our marriage.  

Six years in, we still don't have this NFP or Theology of the Body stuff down.  God willing, we will move forward day to day, month to month, and year to year, propelled with the sacramental graces of marriage to keep learning more about how our marital union reflects Love to the world.  

In the meantime, we are grateful for the gift of our fertility and married life.  Despite that, we'll keep stumbling clumsily, we will undoubtedly hurt each other, and we will end up in the confessional like the couple on the cover.  (Hopefully, for Father's sake, we will be clothed!)  Fortunately, as Fulton J. Sheen wrote, it takes Three to Get Married.  Any problems in marriage will always be on us, and we get to turn to Him for strength, forgiveness, trust, perseverance, and the grace to do better tomorrow.  He'll make us into the spouses we are supposed to be if we let Him.  

Thank you for this book, Simcha.  I wish we had it to read during our engagement, and we plan on gifting it to married couples in the future!   

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