Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you;
love her, and she will watch over you.
The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom.
Though it cost all you have, get understanding.
Cherish her, and she will exalt you;
embrace her, and she will honor you.
Many coming of age ceremonies are woven into the fabric of the culture. The Jewish Bat Mitzvah, the Chinese Ji Li, the Mexican Quinceañera, to name a few. Despite the variation of rites of passage, the base element is recognizing and affirming that a child is ready to become an adult, as if adulthood is the goal and the gain.
I consider my options for such a celebration for my daughters in their late adolescence – when and how might they be encouraged and equipped to cross the line into womanhood.
But here in Canada, at least for the white, fourth generation Canadian of Northern European descent, the closest thing that resembles a cultural coming of age is a Sweet 16 party or prom, but those are hardly a pronouncement of maturity. There is no marked turning point, no process in the party, no purposeful mentorship or guidance.
Our perception of adulthood, rather, has taken a satirical turn. We grumble about #adulting and its responsibilities. It looks to us mostly like a series of chores and an interruption of our pursuit of pleasure. Studies show that we are a culture that doesn’t know how or when to grow up. There are no clear guidelines as to what that should look or act like and anything that smells of it feels like a burden. There is little to no regard for the honour and privilege of responsibility.
In a culture that glorifies youth, maturity carries the weight of loss rather than the promise of gain.
What if we did some reframing of womanhood for our young women?
What is the vision for womanhood with which I would bless my daughters?
We consider family and friends, those who have invested in my girls with their time, attention, prayers, concern, and support. Together, my daughters and I name the women we know, one-by-one, who take on responsibility with grace and power, who wear maturity like a royal mantle, who have nobility in their bearing.
The list is diverse, both ethnically and circumstantially. It contains women who are single and married, young and old, with children and without, in the marketplace and at home, urban and rural… the variations abound.
The message, dear daughters, is that there is no set pattern for your life. You are not under any pressure to make your life look a certain way or mimic the circumstances of others. Each of the women in your life have lived a different one from the other.
What, then, is the common denominator?
It is the pursuit of wisdom. These are the women who have an outlook that is greater than themselves. They recognize that womanhood means nurturing their corner of the world, in which we have been blessed to enter. They walk boldly and upright in their gifts and talents and share them generously with others. We have gained their love and they have elevated our lives. Each one, though different, has looked for and grabbed hold of wisdom. Look to them for a collective wisdom that will help you discern the course of your life.
What a beautiful exercise to name them all, teachers, mentors, babysitters, pastors, youth workers, employers… They are woven into the fabric of our hearts. We become hopeful.
More to come…