The Truth about Pain and Redemption from My Daughter’s Parched Lips

We often shy away from what’s ultimately best for us because the process to get there hurts too much. But when we power through the pain, we discover healing and growth.


Before Rachel turned a year old, she underwent surgery to have the cleft of her soft palate repaired. The recent confirmation that she had significant developmental delays only served to heighten my hubby’s and my anxiety. 

And although the cleft repair went smoothly, recovery proved a nightmare. Rachel came home, a confused, hurting baby with braces on her arms to keep her from tearing out the stitches.

For the next few days, try as I might, my girl refused to let anything pass her tender little mouth, including life-sustaining breast milk. I tried every bottle nipple and all the tricks I could think of to get Rach to drink, to no avail. In frustration, I squirted precious milk between her clamped, parched lips, only to have most of it dribble back out.

Finally, hot tears streaming down my face, I confessed to my mother that we’d have to go back to the hospital for IV fluids if Rachel didn’t drink that night. Mom suggested adding molasses to the milk. Perhaps the extra sweetness and mix of flavors just might work. 

Having nothing to lose, I gave it a try. First a little tongue test, and then a tentative suck. My tears of frustration turned to tears of joy as my baby eagerly consumed the contents of her bottle. Rachel was finally drinking! 

She just had to be convinced drinking was worth the pain. 

Worthwhile Pain

Looking back, I realize a very important life lesson from this experience: Sometimes we have to push through the pain, not avoid it, to reach a place of growing and healing. 

Sometimes we have to push through the pain, not avoid it, to reach a place of growing and healing. Click To Tweet

Rachel’s mouth hurt, so she responded naturally by protecting it at all costs. As adults, our hearts get broken, feelings hurt, and egos bruised, so we act in a similar manner. Instead of pushing through the pain, we protect ourselves by trying to avoid it altogether.

The problem is, in protecting ourselves from all suffering, we stifle our growth and healing as well. 

In protecting ourselves from all suffering, we stifle our growth and healing as well. Click To Tweet

Once Rachel allowed the extra pain of sucking and swallowing, she began receiving what she needed to grow and heal. 

The same can be said of us: Avoid all pain and live a stagnant life. Push through the pain and live a dynamic life.

God uses the broken in our lives for transformation. He redeems our suffering and brings us newness and wholeness.

Few of us welcome pain, but if we push through it, we’ll taste the sweetness of growth and restoration in the process.

And as my Rachel taught me those many years ago, it’s well worth the sacrifice.

“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)

Reflections: How about you, do you have stories of growth and healing flowing out of pain? 

Linking up again this year with Ann Voskamp’s 2014 Joy Dare. Find the linkup at A Holy Experience. Beginning where I left off in 2013. What a blessing! #2861–2881, read the entire list by clicking here.

  • Being caught in a rainstorm with Rachel while ushering her back to shelter–she loved it and kept stopping to enjoy the rain; More than half the garden planted; Lilacs blooming 
  • Watching Zach play his last high school soccer game–proud of his attitude and how hard he played; Psalm 139:14; Grilling season
  • Scent of roasted turkey filling the house; Surprised by a nice scholarship for Zach; Joey asking me to play ball with him (ball of all kinds–soccerball, baseball, football)–so grateful for this time
  • Turkey all cooked for graduation party!; God’s peace that offers deep-down rest; Hummingbirds hovering at the feeder
  • Highbush Cranberrry blossoms–so fragrant; Attended a Decoration Day service at the beautiful historic Bay Cemetary, w/ Joey & friend Ian playing taps for the 1st time; The sight of American flags still lining the street
  • Morning space w/ God–to begin the day at rest; Joey noticing a rainbow in the garden sprinkler; New flower in Rachel’s Pooh Garden (prairie garden) purple_flower_Pooh_Garden-
  • Many pitching in to transform our church into the Sea of Galilee region for VBS; Enjoying a DQ Blizzard break w/ Joey; Rach’s insistence she “help” color a cardboard boat–we let her go marker crazy with the inside of the boat. 

By His grace ≈


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Find hope in your real-life struggles. We'll chase it together! I am a wife; mom of 4 (including a young adult daughter with special needs); miscarriage mom of 5; author & follower of Jesus Christ. I write, edit, speak and enjoy everything outdoors.

4 comments on “The Truth about Pain and Redemption from My Daughter’s Parched Lips
  1. Coach Brown says:

    Great story. Our children offer so many examples of how we should conduct our own lives.

  2. Jennifer Dougan says:

    Hi Julie,

    Hopping over from Ann’s link up. Nice to see you again. 🙂

    Your poor girl after that surgery! It’s always hard to see our kids in pain, huh?

    Neat correlation to our own inclinations to avoid pain too. These lines most grabbed me today: “Avoid all pain and live a stagnant life. Push through the pain and live…”

    Hmm! Powerful.

    Have a lovely week,

    Jennifer Dougan

  3. Good words, and so true. Sometimes for me, pressing into the pain to see the fruit means simply letting myself go with it. Not actively doing anything… just letting the current wash over and not fighting it. Thanks for the reminder as I get back into the book I wish I could set down and walk away from writing. Pressing in…

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