I have about five different ideas on which to write rolling around in my head, but the honest truth is, they all feel kind of heavy. Not bad. Definitely worthwhile. But still, heavy. And I’m not really surprised. These past 12-13 months have been heavy. I’ve watched as many people I care about experience deep grief. Some of it has been life playing out. Some of it has been due to COVID, and there’s no getting around that. Too many of my friends have lost loved ones to this illness. My own family has walked the incredibly hard road of losing someone we love to the devastating effects of COVID. And even without all the loss and heartache, even with the light at the end of our pandemic tunnel shining brighter by the day, we still have days and weeks where we find ourselves praying for friends and family that are sick, heartbroken, or hurting . . . where we are navigating exposures and quarantines and shut downs/virtual schooling in our immediate world. So, yeah, heavy is just part of it sometimes. There’s no denying that, but today, I’m not pondering all the heavy stuff.
Here’s what I’ve been thinking about. In just over a month, I’m turning 40. The big 4.0. As a teenager 40 seemed so OLD. It’s halfway to 80. The turning point, the very definition of middle age, and the top of the hill that starts the downhill slope in the second half of our lives. That sounds kind of depressing, but the reality is, I’m more than okay with, I’m actually embracing, turning 40 even if it comes with a few more wrinkles and the potential for bifocals.
It’s the honest to goodness truth. I’m happy to be turning 40. I’m pretty sure I was born an adult at heart so I’ve never struggled a whole lot with getting older, but there is something about entering this decade, in particular, that I really find myself welcoming. My 30s have been hard. I’ve experienced grief on a very personal level, and I’ve had to work through and fight that grief on my knees in a way I never had before. As a family we’ve had some hard times, a few major health challenges, and some big losses of loved ones. And all of that found me pressing into God like never before. My 30s have also been beautiful. We’ve gained so much. I quit teaching and went to work part time only to end up staying home full time which turned out to be the most demanding “job” I’ve ever held (that whole thing falls somewhere between unbelievably hard/terrifying and amazingly beautiful but most certainly orchestrated by God). We brought Anna home . . . both the biggest and best thing that happened to us as a family and me individually, but there have also been unique challenges and hurdles and lots of opportunities for growth in this stage of our lives. We’ve built two homes and moved . . . twice (Jesus take the wheel . . . the thought of moving ever again makes me kind of want to hyperventilate). We’ve watched my husband’s business grow as he decided to venture out and start his own company. We’ve gained family members (and will be adding a niece to the mix this coming fall . . . woohoo!), and we’ve watched our kids develop into these amazing young people and become much more independent . . . and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. We’ve been incredibly blessed in so many ways.
The benefit of all of these challenges and growth . . . of both the blessings and the hard times . . . of learning to lean on and press into God more . . . is that at on the brink of turning 40, I am more confident and self assured in who I am than ever before.
I’m a Christian first and last and in between, and my relationship with Jesus literally dictates every other part of my life.
I’ve figured out that I’m worth it . . . I’m worth taking the time to take care of myself . . . physically . . . which is why I work out . . . emotionally/mentally . . . it’s okay to stop and say “no”, to set boundaries and not feel guilty about it . . . and most importantly spiritually, my relationship with God isn’t about checking off some box or meeting some requirement to read a certain number of scriptures, it’s not about performance or earning His favor . . . it’s deeply intimate and personal, and it’s 100% a non negotiable in my life. Further, I need to take care of myself in order to truly care for those I love.
I’ve learned (am still learning) the art of boldness and honesty . . . of standing up for what I truly believe is right . . . all while being gracious and kind and compassionate. Of balance. For many years I oscillated between people pleasing (still struggle with this sometimes) that kept me from speaking up or expressing my opinion and letting all my frustration build up until I snapped. But being a jerk is never justified, and I’m slowly, albeit surely, through the power of the Holy Spirit, learning to be completely unapologetic and yet, still full of grace and kindness in my beliefs and opinions.
I’ve learned to judge the things that matter, and not care about the things that don’t. And y’all, as I’ve said before, a whole lot of the things we pass judgment on just don’t matter.
I’ve realized the importance of putting my marriage second only to God . . . to putting in the work and embracing the gift that it is. And it’s so hugely worth it.
I’m learning the fine art of letting my children grow and become more independent. Of trusting that God truly loves them even more than I do. Of allowing my teenage son to grow into a young man . . . of figuring out the push and pull of letting him go that starts long before he actually leaves home while at the same time not being “helicopter mom of the year” to Anna (easier said than done).
I have no doubt that my 40s will also bring both hard and beautiful. My kids will both turn 18 before my 50th birthday. Although, Anna will get that one in just under the wire. Andrew will head off to college in a little over five short years, and Anna will grow from a little girl into a young woman. Our next ten years will be filled with a plethora of growth and changes some wonderful, some hard, many a good mixture of both. And I’m sure that, as time seems to do as we grow older, they’ll pass at a lightning fast pace.
So I’m embracing 40. I’m going into it with a lot of prayer and excitement of what’s to come. And for the record, I’d like to let my teenage self know that 40 is far from OLD.
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