First of all, thanks for all the comments to the last post. And don’t worry about leaving comments with your opinions about medical issues, picturing me being rushed into the ER on a gurney screaming, “But my blog readers told me to stop taking my medicine!” Any decisions I make will be based on my opinion, my doctors’ opinions and prayer only. I’m just interested to hear what others thing as a thought exercise.
So anyway, interesting how much the current situation — the Coumadin/NFP dilemma, constant pain and sleep deprivation — has made my doubts so much easier to indulge. Not just because there would be fewer short-term problems if I could just use some sort of (non-estrogen) birth control, but because exploring these problems in any other forum than this site leaves me surrounded by non-Catholic opinions that seem so alluringly…easy, and convenient, and even reasonable.
For example, I Googled stuff like Catholic Coumadin to see if I could find stories of other people in this same situation. I found one message board where a woman wrote in to say that she was Catholic and worried about not using birth control while on Coumadin. A couple of commenters wrote in to explain that they were raised Catholic so they knew where she was coming from and even wistfully remembered those days when they actually believed that silly birth control stuff — ah, yes, haven’t we all been through that phase — but that the poor benighted woman need not stress about the birth control issue, nobody really believes that stuff anymore anyway. She thanked them for their good advice. I wonder what she ended up doing.
Some nosy friends and relatives have started to ask pointed questions about birth control in which the purpose is really more to tell me how horrific it would be if I got pregnant any time soon than to actually gather information (“So…is that patch thing safe for you to use or are you just going to go with an IUD?”) When I told a “Catholic” friend that I was probably going to do NFP she said, “Do not tell me that you’re actually buying into that birth control stuff! It’s just because you’re new and excited about the Church, it’ll pass. But you really don’t need to worry about that — your health is at stake here!”
And then there’s the usual old doubt that’s been there from the beginning. I’m back to worrying that since I was raised atheist some major synapses needed for belief got weeded out sometime around kindergarten. During times of doubt I can’t hearken back to a childlike trust in God since I don’t think I’ve ever had a childlike trust in anything. I don’t even remember believing in Santa Claus.
I usually, ironically, find it easier to believe in the Church than in a vague concept of God or even Jesus, but these heavy doubts about birth control have made even that shaky, since belief in the Church and its teachings is an all or nothing endeavor — you believe that it’s infallible on all issues of doctrine and faith or you don’t. And if you don’t, then you don’t believe in the Church. So having major doubts about one issue necessitates me putting all my faith in the Church on the backburner until I get it resolved.
The most confusing aspect of all this is where it leaves me.
Atheism is out because it leaves so much of life unexplained, and it makes no sense for a sentient, self-conscious being to live out an existence that it knows is meaningless and finite. All of the other major world religions are out because they don’t seem to speak the truth. Christianity does have a compelling story, but I can’t believe in any flavor of it that believes in sola scriptura, it just doesn’t make any sense to me.
So my options would appear to be to follow the Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church, or to resign myself to being “spiritual but not religious” [*gag*]. I feel like I’m in some sort of religious no-man’s land.
So we’ll see where this goes. I’ve never known belief without major reservations, but this period of doubt is particularly strong. It seems like after all these months of seeking and searching and thinking and praying that I’d be farther along than this. In fact, I feel like I’m going backwards here.
The one glimmer of hope is that I’ve become quite enchanted with praying the rosary. I downloaded an album of someone saying the rosary to my iPod and have been listening to it frequently (I don’t yet have the attention span to do it on my own and don’t know all of the prayers/creeds yet). I can’t believe more people don’t do this, it’s such a fantastic form of reflection, meditation and prayer.
Each time I put on my headphones for the rosary, usually in the quiet middle of the night when I’m up with the baby, I ask for help. I suppose that’s really the best (and maybe the only) option here. If I’m ever going to have any sort of consistent, solid faith or get any answers to all these questions it will take a whole lot of God’s help.
And maybe that’s a step in the right direction. I suppose it takes some amount of faith to even open my mind to the possibility that prayer just might help, that God just might make this easier for me if I let him.