We were slow to share this information so we didn’t want to come across as boastful, but after friend promptings, we decided it was time. We are sharing this ceremony for others to use as they wish. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions/comments.
A few summers ago, our daughter turned 13 and we wanted to celebrate her transition from a little girl to a young lady. Now coming of age celebrations are not a new concept: Rumspringa for Amish, Jewish faith has the Bat/Bar Mitzvah, tribal type ceremonies in other countries, or the over the top MTV ‘My Sweet 16’. However, for those of us who are Christians, or those readers who don’t associate with a religion, there is not a ceremony to look to.
In addition, when we were looking for coming of age ceremonies, there is great information for Fathers to Sons or Mothers to Daughters. However, we couldn’t find anything for Fathers to Daughters. To us, that is an enormous miss. There are many stories and even data, showing when a young lady loses her way in life, it most often can be traced back to a wound from her earthly father abandoning, ignoring, abusing, etc. her. So the young lady, either in her teenage years or 20s, will try to fill the father void in her life with other men, work, food, drugs, etc. My wife and I wanted to put a stake in the ground.
We wanted to affirm who our daughter was and that she was defined by her identity as a daughter of God, and not by the image of how many social media “likes” she has, boys asking for her number, or if she was the best dancer at her studio. We wanted her to know she was working from a place of approval, instead of for approval.
Our ceremony was a combination of resources and ideas from organizations we are involved in or came across during preparation. An impactful men’s ministry called, The New Frontier, founded and led by Chris Hartenstein, where we work with fathers and sons thru transformative content about identity and purpose. We also attend Crossroads Church where Pastor Brian Tome did an incredible series and book on “Five Marks of a Man”. The close to our ceremony came from an amazing story in Exodus 38 that was brought to light by Kate Battistelli in a radio talk and this article.
If you are enjoying this blog, subscribe here to receive leadership lessons for home and work weekly.
So here it goes…
My wife and I went through Proverbs 31 and identified five different words that we thought were significant to a young lady transitioning into a young woman. Proverbs 31 is rich with words and traits of a Godly woman and we identified these particular five words because they were applicable to this daughter and at this time in her life. If we do this ceremony again when she is older, we may pick other words that are applicable to her at 18 or so, such as ‘entrepreneur’ or ‘business minded’. Also, we may pick different words for our second daughter, such as ‘creative’, since that is how she is wired. (Side note – for those that don’t believe in the Bible, I encourage you too still choose 5 high character words and conduct a ceremony to affirm your daughter).
The following five words embodied who our daughter is at this time and what we felt God wanted us to affirm in her. Below is the word, with additional words of emphasis, plus the associated Proverbs 31 verse.
- Character – trustworthy, integrity, wisdom and kind (v. 10-12)
- Committed – to faith, family, friends, school and work (v. 13-19)
- Generous – of time, talent and treasures (v. 20-22)
- Influential – live a life worth imitating (v. 23-26)
- Excellence – everything you do is for the Glory of God (v. 27-31)
We then identified family and close friends that we wanted to participate in the ceremony. We assigned one of the five words to each of these people and asked them to write a letter of what this word means to them. For the men involved, we asked them to write about what the word means not only in their life but how they see it played out in a Godly woman. For the women, we asked them to reflect on how the assigned word has affected their life and any wisdom they would share with a 13-year-old.
We then put all the letters in an amazing bound book with pictures throughout her life. We cannot tell you how amazing the book is! The treasure of the book in itself is worth doing the ceremony! We often joke we could sell this book on Amazon and just substitute the name of our daughter with the customer’s name. The book is full of incredible insight and wisdom.
Now for the ceremony.
I invited men who wrote a letter to come to our house and discuss the words with our daughter. Yes, not going to lie, it started off a little awkward with my daughter at the head of the dining room table, and these grown men sitting around the table and staring at her. However, after a few awkward minutes, it burst open with greatness. We discussed each word for about 15 minutes, the guys read their letter, and we prayed over her. Now, will she remember all the great things said that night by those men? Absolutely not. I don’t even remember. However, she won’t forget that there are men in her life that have her back. There are Godly men that can speak into her life, help her out when needed, or just be prayer warriors working behind the scenes for her. She now knows she is not alone.
The next part was my wife and I took her to a fancy dinner. We got dressed up, she ate a big fat steak (she likes steak like her mom!) and we shared our thoughts with her based on the five words. The dinner was special. Laughs and tears.
Then we came back home, and Holly and women sat around the table and did the same thing. The ladies talked about the words, ate dessert, and had a great time. Now I don’t know all that was said since I was not invited to the ladies party, but it was a success.
Burn the Bronze Mirror
The last part of our night was the perfect close to an amazing evening. Holly and I have participated in a ceremony called “Burn Your Ships” at Crossroads based on a story from the 1500s when Captain Hernán Cortés landed in Veracruz and told his crew to burn their ships because they were not going to retreat. I have always liked this idea of burning your ships or fears or whatever is holding you back, so when I heard this story from Kate Battistelli on Exodus 38:8, it sealed the deal.
Here’s a summary of this Bible story. Women were asked to burn their bronze mirrors, so the liquid metal could be used in constructing the washbasins at the tabernacle. The moral of the story is that while women are beautiful and reflect God’s glory, how women look should not define their self-image or come before their identity as God’s daughter.
We gave Kiley a bronze mirror to write down anything she was struggling with, that was getting in the way of her relationship with God or just holding her back from living life to the full. I don’t know what she wrote on the mirror because it was private, but I am sure it had to do with pressure to get perfect grades, social media likes, getting a boyfriend, being a great dancer, and the list goes on. After she was done writing, we had her throw it in the fire! Symbolizing that all those fears/worries/etc. were burnt. They do not define her.
After she threw the mirror in the fire, we watched it burn, celebrated, and then gave her a new bronze mirror with the five words from the ceremony embroidered on it!
The evening was amazing. If you want to learn more, please reach out and we can share additional thoughts and behind the scenes information.
We must both affirm our kids for who they are now and cast a vision for who they can become, not what the noise of the world is telling them. Somebody is building into your kids. Make your voice louder than the others.
Somebody is building into your kids, make your voice louder than the others.
If you want to discuss how to affirm and declare your daughter’s identity, please email email@example.com for help!
Do you want to talk to your daughter about how God values her, but don’t know where to start? Click on this link for a free one-page guide to help you communicate the what, why and how God thinks of your daughter.