Failure to Thrive

So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. 1 Corinthians 3:7 NIV

A short time after my daughter was born, she was given the diagnoses of Failure to Thrive. This diagnosis indicates an inadequate weight gain or inability to grow. At her 1-month-old check-up, the pediatrician was slightly concerned about her slow weight gain. She advised me to ensure that I was feeding her at least every 2 hours, which meant waking her to feed if necessary. Of course, as any devoted mother would, I immediately sprung into fix-it action and worked diligently to get my baby back on a healthy growth track. Imagine my frustration as I left her 2-month-old check-up to find that she had merely gained a few ounces since her last appointment. I was confused and frustrated because I was sure that I was doing everything right for her to be gaining weight properly. I was angry at myself for not realizing that there was an issue much earlier. And lastly, I was hurt because my sweet baby wasn’t growing the way we thought that she should be.  Hearing that my daughter was failing to thrive was a tough pill to swallow.

How many times has something that you’ve devoted all your prayers, time, energy and resources to failed to thrive? Maybe you had been on a job for several years in the same position and you felt you deserved to be promoted. Countless 60 hour work weeks, endless training sessions and many headaches later you were still not promoted.—Diagnosis: Failure to Thrive at Work.  Perhaps you remained faithful in your marriage to a partner who was physically or emotionally unfaithful to you. Daily prayers, counseling sessions and cries to your spouse seemed to do little to help. After pouring your everything into it, your marriage remained at a standstill; there was little to no growth or progression taking place.—Diagnosis: Failure to Thrive in Marriage. Or could it be possible that you made a commitment to get your finances in order. You cut up your credit cards, eliminated unnecessary expenses and started saving for a rainy day. It seemed you were on the right track until your rainy day came shortly after you began your financial freedom journey. That rainy day turned into rainy months and you just couldn’t get ahead. – Diagnosis: Failure to Thrive in Finances.  Maybe these scenarios were never your reality, but we have all had something that failed to thrive in spite of everything that we did. (studies, children, businesses, ministries, spiritual advancement, etc.) As discouraging as it may seem, the great news is that a Failure to Thrive diagnosis does not mean that it’s dead! However, the way that you react to your diagnosis can drastically impact the ultimate outcome of your situation. Read on to see what I learned from my experience with a failing to thrive diagnosis.

1. Get to the source. – After finding out that my daughter hadn’t gained much weight, it was time to figure out why. We would soon discover that she had a heart defect which was impeding her ability to grow properly.  It was imperative to know exactly what was causing the problem in order to rectify the issue.  If you find that you’re failing to thrive at work and you know it’s because of no fault of your own, it probably time to get answers. Muster up the courage to talk to your boss, or even your boss’ boss. Remember, failing to thrive is usually the by-product of a deeper issue. Don’t get so caught up with the lack of growth that you don’t search out the true source.

2. Don’t give up!Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. (Galatians 6:9 NIV) When you are pouring everything that you have into building something and you still see no progress, it’s so easy to assume that you’re doing the wrong thing.  In some cases this is very true; however, sometimes your actions are right on point but you have to remain diligent in your pursuit.  Because my milk was the sole source of my daughter’s nutrition, I considered stopping my breastfeeding efforts prematurely. I was convinced that if she wasn’t gaining weight properly, then it was a result of something that I wasn’t providing to her.  If you are doing all of the aforementioned things (praying, counseling, communicating, etc) to restore your marriage, don’t choose to stop simply because you cannot see the growth immediately. Sometimes you are doing everything right, but it’s just a process that you have to endure.

3. Respect the process. —  Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4 NIV) Understand that some things are just meant to happen because you have to learn the lesson. As tough as that may be to grasp, life is a teacher that never retires. Sometimes she’s sweet and other times she can be amazingly cruel! Once you’ve gotten to the root of the issue and assessed that your actions are warranted, it’s just time to go through it!

4. Don’t compare your growth to others. — Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else.. (Galatians 6:4 NIV) I was guilty of seeing other babies that were the same age as mine and comparing her size to theirs. Naturally, I was discouraged each time I did this because she was noticeably smaller, but what I had to remember was that her circumstances weren’t the same as those other babies. They weren’t born with extra large holes in their hearts. They weren’t struggling to simultaneously eat and breathe. While you are comparing your marriage to the girl’s next door, remember she didn’t start with the same set of challenges that you did and vice versa. The only person’s job, business, children and marriage that you should be comparing yours to is—well—yours! I had to learn to mind my own growth chart. Nearly 5 months after my daughter was first diagnosed as Failure to Thrive, she is doing great! Yes, she is still small for her age, but she is growing at her own pace!

Dear Daddy,

I thank You for all of my Failure to Thrive experiences. I know it takes some maturity to praise You when things are not growing and going as I think they should, but I believe that You are working it out for my good even when I don’t see the outward signs of progress. Please give me wisdom to assess my situation and equip me with the tools to endure my season of failing to thrive. I know that only You can make everything grow! In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, today I EMPOWER you thrive in every area of your life. Although, you may be failing to thrive right now, stick with it because this is just a season! Respect your process and learn the lesson, but continue giving it all you have. In due time, those grades, marriages, jobs, businesses, and everything else you put your hands to is going to flourish into all God created it to be!

Read a related EmpowerMoment: Delayed, Not Denied!


Mrs. Kristen Harris is a wife, mother, entrepreneur and dedicated servant. She is extremely passionate about women’s spiritual advancement, hence the founding of EmpowerMoments. As an avid reader, Kristen enjoys reading the Bible and other non-fiction pieces. Her driving inspiration is when God says to her: “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11) She currently resides outside of Chicago, Illinois with her wonderful husband and three lovely daughters where she is an active member of New Life Covenant Church.

4 thoughts on “Failure to Thrive”

    1. So clearly my response isnt right on time, but I am glad that God spoke to you! Love you right back!!!

  1. I truly love this EM it reminds me of what my pastor said how God will let a dream die only to resurrect it to which He gets the glory! Something like that but im glad that whats impossible with man is possible with God!

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