How my theology got broken
Updated: Apr 3, 2021
In 2017, my second round of IVF ended in total failure, and I had to come to terms with the fact that my infertility was likely to be permanent. I was 37. I had overcome struggles in my life before that, but nothing compared with the devastation of realising that my body simply could not do what others do effortlessly.
I am a Christian. I have had to integrate the grief of my involuntary childlessness with my faith in a God who is so often presented as all-powerful and all-loving. Although I knew in theory that God didn't answer every desperate prayer, it made a difference when it was my own prayers that proved so catastrophically ineffective. Life had stopped making sense to me. My universe was no longer orderly; it seemed absurd and unfair.
In early 2018, I took a three-month sabbatical from work and spent much of that time in the British Library, reading all I could find on infertility, involuntary childlessness, suffering, and theological ways to make sense of these experiences. I discovered some gems, but found that childlessness was, overall, a theologically under-resourced area of human experience. I found great books about childlessness, but not being written from a faith perspective, they couldn't help me see where God was in my experiences. I found books about childlessness written by Christians, but most of them didn't engage with the depth of pain I was feeling. I needed a pastoral theology of childlessness, so I wrote one. By 'pastoral theology' I mean reflection on experience in the light of the Bible and Christian theology. Another term for it is 'applied theology.' It's about looking for God in the midst of human life.
The result of all these reflections is my book, 'A Pastoral Theology of Childlessness'. You can register for the Zoom book launch here and pre-order a copy here. I will be including extracts in upcoming posts.