My video interview for New Wine Conference, 2017 – on my journey of faith, chronic illness, and the silences of God
Bio in brief:
Tanya Marlow is an author, speaker and broadcaster on faith and spirituality.
She is also a campaigner for those with chronic illness, disability and Myalgic Encephalomyelitis.
Formerly a lecturer in biblical theology, with a decade of experience in Christian ministry, she has been published by The Spectator, Relevant, Premier Christianity magazine and others. She admits to a weakness for karaoke, sunny days and laughing at her own jokes. You can find her in a vicarage in Devon, England with her husband and bouncy son, or writing honestly about finding God in hard places and the messy edges of life at www.tanyamarlow.com.
Author of Three Books:
She is the author of Those Who Wait: Finding God in disappointment, doubt and delay (Malcolm Down Publishing, 2017) – a creative and transformative journey through the lives of four Bible characters who waited impatiently – and found God in their frustrated longings. Preorder from Wordery (free worldwide delivery) or look out for the introductory offer 16-26th October on Amazon.
She is a contributor to Soul Bare – Stories of Redemption ed. Cara Sexton (IVP USA, 2016) alongside Seth Haines, Sarah Bessey, Emily P Freeman and more.
Her first book, Coming Back to God When You Feel Empty (2015), intertwines her own story with the biblical book of Ruth, offering a path back to God after disappointment and loss. (Get it for FREE here).
What do I write about?
My writing covers a whole host of topics, but circles around the spirituality of suffering:
- How do we relate to God when hard times come?
- What if God doesn’t feel near?
- Where can God be found?
- What if we are plagued with doubt?
- How does it really feel to have chronic illness?
- Where does the church fit in?
- What if we find ourselves in a wilderness or limbo state?
My background is in theology and ministry, but I have an English Literature degree, and I like to tackle these topics creatively, interweaving story and metaphor with spiritual truth.
I love exploring the Bible so it gets under your skin, ministers to your spirit, and leads you to Jesus.
Vulnerability and authenticity is a way to unlock courage in other people, so I write honestly about my life and weaknesses.
I dabble in feisty social justice, especially M.E. advocacy, rights for disabled people, and feminism.
This is a space for people who feel like they don’t belong. It is a place for doubters, lamenters, broken, disappointed, wobbly or lost – those who have seen the muck and of life and somehow still seek gold therein. This blog is for cynics and hopers, word-lovers and God-seekers. (I also habitually recommend good books and am occasionally hilariously funny*.) You are welcome here, and I’d love to get to know you more.
*honestly, I am.
Writer, Broadcaster, Campaigner:
- I write regularly for online magazines She Loves Magazine, and Mudroom (USA and worldwide). I have also written for The Spectator, Relevant Magazine.com (USA), Premier Christianity Magazine (UK), Threads (UK), and BigBible.
- I am a broadcaster who has been featured in BBC Radio 4, BBC Radio Devon, and UK’s Premier Christian Radio (audio), and Big Bible Project, BBC Spotlight, Change for ME documentary (video).
- I was the founder of Compassionate Britain, a grassroots campaign that united Christians to speak up for disabled people against the government cuts affecting their essential support. I also campaign for better treatment and funding for M.E. patients with #MEAction Network.
- I was formerly a lecturer in Biblical Theology, and Associate Director for a homiletics training course (accredited by St Mark and St John University, Plymouth, UK).
- I have had ten years’ experience as a Christian minister in both church and student ministry, and have been a speaker and preacher at national Christian conferences (Spring Harvest, New Wine, Greenbelt etc). I hold a post-graduate qualification in pastoral counselling.
- In 2007, I was diagnosed with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, a debilitating chronic autoimmune neurological disease, which affects my mobility and energy, and comes with a plethora of annoying symptoms. You can read more about it here.
- In 2010, my world changed when I gave birth and my M.E. tipped over into ‘severe M.E.’ Since then I have been housebound, needing to spend approximately 21 hours per day in bed, only able to leave the house once or twice a month for a brief trip out in my wheelchair. I now measure out my life in teaspoons. I need to rest much of the day, and have to strictly ration my time talking with friends, writing, or playing with my son.
- In 2014 I was also diagnosed with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS), which means my body does not enjoy being upright, and my heart goes crazy when I stand up.
- Living with chronic illness has shaped and refined my theology, and made me passionate about justice for marginalised people. You can read more about my response to this in Why Thorns and Gold?
- I have an amazing husband who is a vicar (church minister) in the Church of England, and we live by the sea in Devon, UK. (NB the picture above is NOT Devon. It’s Greece…) He’s an artist, scholar, wine connoisseur, preacher-man and organiser of legendary kids’ parties. He blogs sporadically here.
- We have a small-but-loud golden-haired son whose company we enjoy immensely. To protect him from future teenage friends googling his name and finding out all the cute things he did as a toddler, I refer to him online as ‘boy’.
Wanna know even more about me? Click on my More About Me page for some fun facts.
But enough about me – what about you? Please do introduce yourself, say, hi, interact and leave a comment, tell me your story – I’d love to hear it.
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My wife and I are reading your daily devotionals in Upper Room “Disciplines.” We looked up your bio. We have several things in common that resonate with me – I have a serious illness too – idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) and you have ME. Prognosis for me is 3 to 5 yrs. I’m coming up on one year in July…currently house, chair, and bed confined on continuous O2….
Me a prior runner of marathons (Boston 2 times) etc. The diagnosis was a real shock, to say the least. But my faith / my wife’s faith /our faith plus good palliative care has been a Godsent, so QOL is “good.” It has been difficult, but we have adjusted with a loving family around us.
I also see you are the Founder of Compassionate Britain. Are you familiar with the international Charter for Compassion? If not, I highly recommend you consider affirming the Charter at http://www.charterforcompassion.org and become a partner with the global community. One of its sectors of interest is Healthcare.
Perhaps we could communicate via email sometime and talk about the potentials for partnership in the future.
BTW, we are really enjoying your writings in Disciplines.
Tanya, did you work for uccf coming in to Brunel uni? Or was that a different Tanya marlow?
All the best to you!