1. How has dealing with IF changed your view of God (if you had one?)
I was raised as a Southern Baptist. When I was in high school, I started to examine the beliefs of that religion and compare them to what was actually taught in the church. My rather critical examination led me to conclude that a) I didn’t believe the same thing as my parents and b) I couldn’t stand the hypocrisy that was running rampant between the doctrine and the teachings, nevermind the actions of those people who claimed to be believers. So I haven’t really attended church since I moved out on my own, mainly because that is going to entail changing religions — and I’m not ready to deal with that yet.
Now, I thoroughly believe that there is one God and I believe that he loves and cares about us. However, I don’t really believe that he interferes much with what goes on in the world, much less what happens in our everyday life. I do not believe that God has inflicted infertility on me for a reason, any more than I believe that he inflicts war, poverty, famine, or pain on the world. Those things just ARE. Am I angry that I have to face infertility? Yes, of course I am. Just as I am angry that people go hungry, that people die, that people live in pain. I cannot change the fact that I am infertile; I simply have to accept that this is the hand I’ve been dealt and move forward with my life.
Nevertheless, I believe that we as individuals can make a huge difference on those around us. Prayers are hopes and beliefs put into words, and those words inspire us to action. We can manifest God’s love for us through our actions to one another, and in that way God’s will is done on earth.
This is a stark difference from the beliefs that I was raised with. I was brought up to believe that sinners and disobedience to God was punished by his witholding of blessings. Those who “did God’s will” were rewarded, and the rewards were implied to be both physical and immaterial. Children were very much regarded as a “blessing”, which would imply that the lack of them was a curse. Following this logic, I don’t have children because I am a bad person. I think the classic infertile example of crack whores and child abusers is more than enough refutation to that idea at this point.
2. Would it cause more pain to hear it talked about in church or be a comfort to open a dialogue?
For me that depends mainly on the intent of the speaker. If a infertile wants to talk about their struggle and how it has changed her/his faith, more power to them. If a fertile wants to expose the problem with compassion, empathy, and accurate information, I think I could handle that (given that there were NO errors of fact. Any piece of bad information, myth, or classic assvice would immediately end any goodwill I had towards that person). The big difference between the two people speaking would be that the infertile has free reign to talk about pain and faith. A fertile speaker should stick to what they know — how to be a good friend and support those who are in pain. A fertile should never assume that any pain they’ve felt is “the same” as that felt by couples who cannot have children.
The culture of the church should be taken into considereation as well. There are several churches that I’ve attended where talking about infertility would basically create an open season for drive-by critiques and snarky piety on the people suffering from it. In that atmosphere, trying to open a dialogue is impossible.
3. For those who have succeeded in having children, has that also changed your view of God?
Can’t speak to that one.
4. How does the Bible stories of Hannah, Sarah and the other “barren” women in the Bible relate to your own IF journey?
I do not suscribe to the idea of biblical inerrancy, and I think that comparative mythology is a more appropriate method to study the stories of barren women in the bible and their “hero” children. That said, I think those stories all reinforce the idea that children are given to those women who “prove” that their faith in God makes them worthwhile mothers. That is a very dangerous idea to promote, especially in the current political climate regarding government interference in religion and medicine. I also think that it lends support to those people who offer up assvice like “Maybe you’re not meant to be parents” or “If it’s god’s will, you’ll have children.” Bullshit.
I suppose it boils down to the fact that I think those stories are just that — stories. Like Cinderella and her prince, they prop up the idea that good people get fairy tale endings and bad people get what they deserve. They don’t really affect me because I don’t believe that they’re true.