A few weeks ago I had the honor of attending a surprise party. My friend’s daughter had just turned 16, and her parents wanted to give her a party she wouldn’t forget.

Instead of a huge guest list, fancy clothes, and a big blowout, my friend sent notes to ladies who had been influential or supportive of her daughter throughout the years. She included a pretty piece of stationary and asked each guest to write a letter of encouragement for her daughter as she stepped into this next phase of her life.

The guests ranged in age from nine to 70. We sat around a fire pit, eating delicious cheese cake, and read our letters. Some letters included Scripture verses, some included wonderful memories, some included prayers for the birthday girl’s future, and they all included encouragement to choose a godly path. It was the best party I’ve ever attended.

Coming of age celebrations are nothing new. Throughout the ages, cultures have practiced them. This kind of ceremony gives an adolescent something to strive for, something to achieve. In a society that often confuses sexual experience with entrance into adulthood, these kinds of ceremonies are all the more important. Sending a young adult into the world without direction is like putting on eyeliner without a mirror and in the dark. At least in my case, that wouldn’t turn out so well!

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