Just this week my little guy went to the doctor. By little, I mean that he is an infant. He was supposed to get some shots, but in the last 2 months he has not gained any weight. In fact, he lost 1/4 lb. Not good for an infant. I’d been worried about his weight. Instinctively I knew something was not right. The doctor officially called it “failure to thrive.” Of course I started to cry. When I worked in a women’s shelter, that’s what the babies whose mamas didn’t take care of them were diagnosed with. I was feeling like a horrible mother.
There are two options as to what can be going on. I am either not feeding him enough, or there is an underlying medical condition. Neither is a good option. If I’m not feeding him enough, then it’s my fault. If there is an underlying medical condition, then my little guy is sick. So to find out what is going on the doctor is having me switch to formula (I was breastfeeding with 1 supplemental bottle a day) and write down the what, when and how much of his feeding schedule. I also had to take him for some lab work (which involved plastic bags and needles – not fun).
I’ve had a couple of days now to process this all. Of course I’m doing internet research (don’t docs hate that??!!) about what medically could be wrong. I’m writing everything down and thinking that I’m really not a bad mom – I promise, I DO feed my child. I even had a friend take a picture as proof!
As my little guy is struggling to gain weight and “thrive” I’ve been wondering if sometimes we have a similar “spiritual failure to thrive?” With my son, he has not been gaining weight as he should. He’s not been growing. Sometimes as Christians, I think we fail to grow too. We aren’t maturing in our faith and we stay right at the place we are.
If this is the case, if we do have a spiritual failure to thrive, then there are two underlying causes. Either we are not “feeding” ourselves enough, or there is an underlying spiritual condition. Maybe we aren’t listening in worship. Maybe we aren’t involved in a Bible study or Sunday School class. Maybe we aren’t reading our Bible daily and allowing God to speak to us. Or maybe, just maybe, we have a struggle with underlying sin that nobody can see. Maybe we hold hate, anger and unforgiveness in our hearts. Maybe, late at night when no one is awake, we are on the Internet looking at inappropriate stuff and connecting emotionally with people that aren’t our spouse. Maybe, we are looking for a bigger house/car/jewelry/boat/bank account to make us happy.
In either case, there is something wrong. Neither option is a good one. Either we’re not being fed, or we are allowing underlying sin to keep us from growing. So what can we do about it?
First, seek God. Instinctively, you know if something is not right. Find a quite place (or if your a busy mom like me, lock the bathroom door and take a long shower) and talk to God. Ask him to reveal any sin in your life. Listen. Ask for forgiveness. Accept that forgiveness that Jesus so freely gives. Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test? 2 Cor. 13:5, NIV
Second, be fed. Join a small group. Read the Bible, study God’s Word – daily. Keep a log of what you read and study. Doing so keeps you accountable and lets you see any patterns in your routine – in your study. You’ll also see any areas you’ve missed. Listen, my sons, to a father’s instruction; pay attention and gain understanding. I give you sound learning, so do not forsake my teaching. When I was a boy in my father’s house, still tender, and an only child of my mother, he taught me and said, “Lay hold of my words with all your heart; keep my commands and you will live.” Proverbs 4:1-4, NIV
Third, find a trustworthy person and have them help you seek answers. They may be able to see things that you aren’t able to see. They have gifts that you don’t have. They can help “analyze” your spiritual growth. They should also pray for you. As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17, NIV
Fourth, seek God. This really is not the start, nor the end of spiritual growth. Truly seeking God is a constant in our lives. When we do so, we are pressed to listen and follow. Then growth will be evident. …pray continually… 1 Thess. 5:17, NIV
I know that my little guy will grow. The doctor, with God’s help, will find answers. I, as mama, will be diligent in helping give him what he needs. I want him to grow. As we seek answers, I know that my faith will grow too.
Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. Ephesians 4: 14-15, NIV