The event was called an “outdooring” borrowed from a Ghanaian term used for the ceremony when a child is named after her birth and presented to the community.
In this case, Sophia was being welcomed into womanhood by the women who had spoken into her life and influenced her to grow into her name, which means wisdom.
We gathered together at my friend Lisa’s gorgeous home on the water. It was rather symbolic that I didn’t – couldn’t – host in space that I owned. Each of the women attending had given my daughters what I couldn’t over the years.
I have come to believe that an important part of nurturing our children is pointing them to the people who will love them well and guide them in the path of truth, goodness, and beauty. I was a better mother because of the women in my life who helped shape my daughters’ lives.
Mallory, my oldest daughter, had been the guinea pig years two years earlier, when I first had this idea.
I had lamented the absence of a cultural coming of age while I was studying a philosophy and theology of beauty. I’d discovered that girls were being inundated from birth with damaging messages about their worth. In their adolescence, when they were necessarily looking outward to inform their own identity, they were coming up tragically empty and taking on the junk values of our culture.
Our girls need a clear message of hope.
Some would suppose that the solution to such a problem would be to barricade ourselves against the garbage messages. There are those who would instruct us to close our ears and eyes to the world around us for fear of being affected. I’ve discovered, rather, the remedy is letting into our lives and elevating the voices that speak worth over us.
It is the aunties and grandmas, biological and surrogate, who teach our daughters how to be physically and emotionally strong, who show them belonging and hospitality.
It is the mentors who help root their identity. It is the teachers who show them their potential. It is the leaders who help them to build aspirations.
To see our girls’ eyes light up, to witness them walk a little taller, because of the value others see and foster in them – that is fighting the good fight.
It was my pleasure to honour these women who had helped me raise my daughters (the hardest part was narrowing down the list as there are literally countless women who have contributed to my daughters’ lives) by inviting them to a dinner party.
Summer salads and decadent desserts were a tiny token of my eternal gratitude.
After dinner, each woman was tasked to speak a blessing, to clarify what they saw in Sophia and their heavenly wish for her future.
As the evening went on, these counter-cultural messages of value laid the path for Sophia to follow. She didn’t have to be a casualty of our culture nor the status quo. She could stand free and strong and empowered by the blessings of the women in her life.
They wished for her, toasted to her, and prayed over her: faith, wisdom, beauty, grace, strength, knowledge, humility, kindness, creativity, and sisterhood, to all of which they were now welcoming her.
Sophia hadn’t been at Mallory’s outdooring two years earlier. At the time Sophia wasn’t yet of age to participate in the blessing ceremony. But Mallory was at Sophia’s. It was appropriate that the newest initiate into womanhood would give the last blessing.
It was, dear Sophia, to make faith in Jesus your own.
You’d have almost thought I’d thrown this event for myself.
There is a kind of personal healing to it, if I’m honest. To hear these words spoken over my daughters is to step more fully into my purpose and worth. I suspect it might have had such an empowering effect on each woman there, to be part of a feminine tour de force and bless the socks off a younger member.
Sophia had been given all our best advice, our tools and tokens to help her. Additionally, each woman added their commitment to continue the journey. But it is up to Sophia to accept this privilege of responsibility, this mantle of maturity, and move forward into womanhood in the fullness of who she was made to be.
We now welcome Sophia Mae Cockram.
And send her out, in Jesus’ name.
Photography: Stephanie Ironside, Iron & Bragg Photography