A rite of passage is defined as “a ceremony or event marking an important stage in someone's life, especially birth, puberty, marriage, and death.” While there are several ‘rites of passage’ in the American culture (high school, driver’s license, and the 21st birthday to name a few), we really don’t celebrate the coming of adulthood or teach to it well as a culture. Realistically, a young man could slip from childhood in to manhood, where he’s choosing a wife and a career, without anyone having ever set down with him and say, “you’re becoming a man, this is a big deal, and this is what it looks like to be a man.”
Matt and I decided a few years ago that we wanted to do something more for our kids. We wanted to pick a year and mark it as an important moment in the transformation from child to adult. We wanted to speak into the lives of our children, to celebrate who they were, and who they were becoming. And, since we weren’t the right religion or culture for a Bat Mitzvah, a Quinceanera, or a Rumspringa we decided we should create our own ceremony. So, we made the decision that during the summer of our children’s 15th birthdays we would take them on a special trip as our own Bedlington Rite of Passage. Why 15? We wanted to do it before they had a car and a busy life that didn’t include us, and we wanted to take some time before they were thrust in to trying to figure out who they were, to tell them who they are to us. Of course it didn’t have to be a trip, but we wanted it to be something special, so we decided on a trip.
We just got back from the first ever Bedlington Rite of Passage trip with our oldest, and it was an amazing experience. First off, it was the first time it has been just the three of us for the last 12 years and that was really special. It all started with the three of us. Plus, we got to have fun together and have good conversations. We held hands and played together. I think this week provided memories that all three of us will cherish forever. We also had all of our family, her closest friends, and other leaders in her life write letters to her, and she opened a few each day of the trip. The letters were of people speaking into her life, prayers people had for her, etc. It was so amazing to watch her read these letters and be able to tell her, “this is what the people who love Christ and love you see about you, this is who they say you are, this is how they see God working in your life.” I watched my daughter cherish those letters, pouring over every word, and as she read them I was able to say “this is who you are Brittney”.
Watching your child grow up is a peculiar feeling. You turn around and all of a sudden you have a full grown woman (or man) on your hands. Our relationship with our little girl is changing, she will always be our child, but soon she will be responsible for herself, and our role will be more of one as a coach and maybe even as a friend. It's a very difficult and wonderful thing. So I tread these waters carefully, doing my best to help her transition to womanhood, and leaning on the wisdom of those older and wiser, because letting go is difficult. There are so many voices out there to listen to, and I hope this week helped the voices of those who matter most ring loudly.