I’m a rule follower.  I’m usually not that interested in blazing a trail or forging a new path.  I like tried-and-true.  I like safe.  Perhaps I feel like if I follow a set rule or the “right” way the outcome will be guaranteed.  Guaranteed to be positive, productive, and pleasant.  Who doesn’t like pleasant, right?

So, I’ve done my fair share of reading.  I should clarify, I am not a reader of novels and quality literature.  I really wish I was, but I’m not.  But, I do read helpful how-to books.  Books about how to grow spiritually, parent successfully, and nurture effectively.

I’m also surrounded by friends and family whose input an opinions I value.  Honest, God-following, straight-shooting, encouraging, wise people.  I’m not afraid to admit when I don’t know something or need to grow in an area, and I’m quick to seek out the wisdom and experience of others.

But, what I’m really looking for in all of that is a rule.  A “right” way of doing things.  The right way.  Because if I can figure out the one right answer to whatever challenge or decision I am facing, I will be guaranteed to like the results.

The only problem is, as much as I really, really want there to be one. right. answer. There usually isn’t.

What works for you, might not work for me.

What worked for one of my children, may not for the other.

Which makes this whole parenting gig challenging, to say the least.  Besides the typical decisions of parenting, there are questions and decisions about what my children – biological and adopted – need to grow into emotionally healthy, spiritually strong people.  And as they grow, the questions and decisions change.  In parenting, instead of a to-do list where things are crossed off leaving you with a feeling of accomplishment, one decision or question often leads to another.

Does she need more time with me?

How can I encourage bonding in a way that she will connect with?

Are her outbursts a normal phase or is she working through something adoption related?

How will my two daughters with two very different adoption stories feel about their story?

When is it appropriate to share each detail of their story?  When are they ready?

Is she too attached to me?  Is it healthy attachment?

How do I encourage our bio daughter who feels left out being the only one not adopted?

Big questions.  Big decisions.  No real “right” answers.  No one rule to follow to guarantee results.  Just a wrestling.

Wrestling with the options, the experts’ opinions, the input of wise counsel and the prayers to my Heavenly Father to guide me.  To guide me in some clear and unmistakable way, please.  And while there have been times when He has done so, I find that more often than not I am left to wrestle.

Wrestle with the options and choices and decisions.  We wrestle with the what as well as the why.  We wrestle with Him.

“Then Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak.” Genesis 32:24

“…your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men and have prevailed.”
Genesis 32:28

“…he wrestled with the angel and prevailed; He wept and
sought His favor.”
Hosea 12:4

However, wrestling is never wasted.

I believe God actually wants us to wrestle.  Wrestle with decisions and wrestle with Him.  He doesn’t spell out every right answer to every question we face.  You just have to look at all the Christian denominations there are to see that people interpret his Word in different ways, all wrestling with what it means to follow Christ.  We want black and white, but often we feel like we find a lot of gray, and so we wrestle.  We want clear explanations to the struggles we face, and so we wrestle.

It is in the wrestling that we develop a closer relationship with God. There is a closeness – an intimacy – necessary in wrestling. It can also be messy.  It is a struggle that brings us near to God and strengthens our faith, changing us as He touches the parts of our character that need shaping.

So, while I still want one right answer to each parenting and attachment question, I’m often times left to wrestle.  Wrestle with the choices set before me and wrestle with God, yearning to hear His voice and see his leading.  And in the end, praying to be strengthened in the process.

I’m not sure that my desire for the Book of Right Answers will ever go away, my list of questions, concerns and decisions about my children sure isn’t.  But, I am growing in my appreciation of the growth and intimacy that comes from the wrestling.


stephanie smit18 years in the classroom as a teacher was easy compared to parenting three little ones at home full-time. Through their three daughters, God has revealed Himself most clearly to Stephanie and her husband Matthew. He not only worked a miracle in giving them their biological daughter, He continued to show Himself in mighty ways throughout adoption journeys in China and Bhutan that were anything but normal. Nowadays she enjoys encouraging and connecting with other adoptive families through speaking and her work on the leadership team of “We Are Grafted In”.  You can read more about their family on their personal blog We Are Family.

5 thoughts on “Wrestling

  1. Beth Templeton

    Stephanie, you and I are so much alike in this. Boy oh boy do I wish there were a book of rules that by following we would produce the results we want. That God desires relationship, not rules, is a glorious and shocking thing! Which I guess is what all that wrestling is about–skin on skin contact with Him. Thanks for this post!

  2. Melissa Renno

    Stephanie…I love this post. It resonates so fully with my anxious heart, always wanting to do the “right” thing so that I am honoring of God and my boys’ stories. But you are right. Each child is so different. I keep saying I never realized just how different they could be until I had them here in our home, taking care of them each day. So now I realize there is never going to be a “one size fits all” explanation or way to do everything. Man oh man do I wish there were sometimes. But then we’d miss out on so much. It’s the “wrestling” that strengthens every part of us even when it’s painful…our relationship with our husbands, our kids, and most importantly with God. I’ll say it again. I love this post. Thanks!

    1. Stephanie Smit

      Oh, I’m so glad today’s post resonated with you! As hard as it is, the best place to be is completely dependent on Him. Blessings!

  3. The Gang's Momma

    So eloquently stated! I, too, would love a copy of The Book of Right Answers. Hmmmm, maybe when it’s all said and done, we could all write one together 😉

    But yes, the wrestling we’ve been through in the years since bringing home Li’l Empress have forged a new intimacy and a new dependence on HIM. It should also be noted, a great side benefit is the deeper intimacy and sense of one-ness it has forged in our home. Between us as a Gang. I couldn’t have predicted that but I’m grateful for it – even in light of the difficulties from which it came.

    Beautiful post, my friend 🙂

Comments are closed.