The 40-Year-Old Classroom

She didn’t enter with fanfare. Quietly, at midnight, just as she does for the general population, she slipped through the door. I opened my eyes to sunshine and blue skies, feeling much the same as I did the day before; the same as I did the day after. No hype, no hoopla, just another birthday.

Seven days post turning the big 4-0, I find myself reflecting on the supposed enormity of this number which honestly, doesn’t feel that big.

I’m grateful that I’ve made it this far. That’s the real gift, right? God has granted me 14,600 sunrises and sunsets – even when I wasn’t always thankful for them. There have been blessings along the way too great to count, and I suppose it’s quite apropos that I can’t remember them all.

I must give a shout out to the unexpected twists and bends that I would never have chosen, and frankly never saw coming. God hand-picked them for me with insight that, after 40 years, I can easily say is FAR greater than my own.

{The 40-year-Old Classroom}

If I had to pinpoint one stand-out that accompanied “forty” into my life (besides that creek in my right knee, slow metabolism, and gray hair) it would have to be wisdom.

In all of her glory, I would not trade wisdom for the world.

And what kind of writer would I be if I didn’t monopolize this milestone and share a bit of what making my way to 40 has taught me …

Seasons Change:

I’m a commitment kind of girl. 110 percent, all-in, extra mile dedication wrapped around Type-A personality. So change—well, eeek. I like things that last forever and my finite mind often assumes all things will. You can guess how that turns out, right? Seasons change and they are as beautiful as God intends them to be.

Not every friendship is made to stand the test of time. Our passions and pursuits develop as we do. God calls us to uncharted waters, stretched comfort zones, and faith that is exercised in embracing the new. He doesn’t say it will be easy and He doesn’t guarantee things won’t change. He simply promises to handle the forever if we’ll trust Him with it.

Knowledge Eludes the Wise:

In my twenties, I counted myself wise. With a firm grip on faith, my path was clear, and my plans were made. At forty, I know nothing. Truly.

I do know how slippery it can be and how carefully it must be guarded, but faith honestly confounds me. It’s delicate and tied up in grace, which every year (or day) proves me more undeserving of. My lack of understanding only makes me all the more grateful that I have faith, that I’ve kept it, and that God doesn’t snatch it back when I mess up.

As for the path and plans—I still make my own, but God has full veto rights and all the tantrums in the world won’t change His mind. Forty year olds still have tantrums, right?

40 year old1

Open Hands Beat Clenched Fists:

Dreams look a whole lot different at forty than they did years ago. Back then, everything was ripe with possibility. Now, I wonder if my dreams (old & new) are still attainable. Time feels like my enemy—maybe because I’m well aware that tomorrow isn’t promised. Mingled with pangs of past failure, I find myself wondering if the result is worth the effort.

But, I don’t get to control the results, only the effort. If God has written the dream over me, it’s worth every single breath I have left to pursue it. Take that, fear.

However, the pursuit has to find its balance. Because if at any given moment I shift back to chasing results, I’ve attempted to take the reins AGAIN and defeated the purpose. It’s when I let go, trust His timing, and lean into His plans that the dream takes flight. And pursuit with open hands makes the journey sweet and profitable, rather than hard and heart breaking.

The Salty Spring

Sit a spell with the words you’ve spoken over the past twenty years or so. Any regrets? No worries – you’re not alone. I can think of a few fits of anger, bouts of impatience, or just all together stupid things that have come out of my mouth. Let me not forget the times I’ve offered my opinion when it wasn’t asked for, dished out unwelcome advice, or just presumed (or pretended) to know what I in fact knew nothing about.

Sometimes you just need to keep your mouth shut. And when you do open it, tell the truth.

Grace is Free

This is a lesson you only learn in living it out. When you discover the precious nature of this priceless gift you come face to face with the fact that there isn’t any way to earn it. Its breadth, depth, and complexity are too great for any of us to achieve on our own. It comes through a crown of thorns too difficult to bear, more blood than we could ever shed, and a brand of sacrifice offered once and for all.

There isn’t any amount of gratitude that will ever repay it. We just have to receive it, then live it while giving it lavishly. And because our Savior knows that we’ll fail in that daily, He promises an unending source. At forty, I’m still learning that and I’m exceedingly grateful that God doesn’t ever stop teaching this lesson.

What about you: have life’s milestones taught you a lesson you can share with us?

You can find these words linked up at my favorite spots:  Holly Barrett (#testimonytuesday), Kelly Balarie (#raralinkup), Holley Gerth (#coffeeforyourheart), Kristin Hill Taylor (#threewordwednesday), Bonnie Gray (#faithbarista), and Jennifer Dukes Lee (#tellhisstory).


38 thoughts on “The 40-Year-Old Classroom

  1. Oh Tiffany, I wouldn’t trade the wisdom God has given me over the years either. And no, I don’t know anything either. ;-) That’s what we learn, right? I hope you had a beautiful birthday, my friend, and may God bless you with many more sunrises and sunsets. You’re a treasure to know.

  2. Happy belated birthday, Tiffany! I’m almost halfway through my 40s, and I can honestly say they have been the most fruitful years of my life. Of course, what I think of as being fruitful now was NOT what I thought it was before. :-) Many blessings to you as you continue your journey … I will look forward to reading what you discover along the way!

  3. You’d think, now that the big 5-0 is approaching for me, that I would have learned how much I don’t know. All too often I jump in with my jaws flapping. I have improved, though, and the closer I grow to my Savior, the more I realize how much I don’t know :).

    1. I find the same thing Anita: the longer I walk with Him, the more I realize just how BIG He is. And yet so close, right?! I think we all have those too-many-words moments no matter what number we hit…all the more reason to be thankful for that BIG grace!! Thanks for visiting me today!

  4. What a neat, neat post, Tiffany. And happy birthday! You go, girl! Gosh, selecting the part of your post I like most is difficult. I like it all, my nodding head and smile attest. If I had to choose, which thank goodness I don’t have to, it would be this –> “If God has written the dream over me, it’s worth every single breath I have left to pursue it. Take that, fear.”
    Amen! Now, cut that cake. Let’s celebrate God’s creation of YOU and all this glorious wisdom! xo

    1. Thanks so much, Kristi. Chasing dreams takes on a whole new meaning when we kick fear to the curb, right along with comparison and seeking other peoples approval. Those haven’t been easy things to learn, but I’m so grateful that at 40, they are finally sinking in. :) So blessed to have sweet sisters like you cheering me on…hugs!!

  5. This is such a great and honest reflection! I love what you said, “It’s when I let go, trust His timing, and lean into His plans that the dream takes flight.” That’s the honest-to-God, most reassuring truth! Blessings Tiffany!

    1. Thanks, Stephanie. It’s amazing how letting go (which isn’t easy for my controlling flesh) brings so much freedom. It gives God the ability to put wings to those dreams when we aren’t holding them so tightly. Now…if I had learned that at 20??!! ;) So glad you stopped by today. Blessings!

  6. I love your lessons Tiffany! (Especially the one about the salty spring.) I agree with you about the whole wisdom thing. I have a full head of gray hair, but I wouldn’t trade what I’ve learned for anything. God has taught me so many lessons, but I still have far to go. Thank you for the reminder to enjoy the journey, however far it may go. Blessings!

    1. We’ve earned those grays, right?! :) I’m so grateful for what He’s taught me and I’m humbled that He teaches many lessons more than once. Here’s to keeping at His feet for more. Thanks for being here, Kristine!

  7. So far turning 30 and 36 have been my two favorite birthdays. I’ve got a few years until 40, but I love how you’re embracing what you’ve learned and how you’ve learned it. That lesson on friendships not lasting forever? That’s a hard one. It’s been on of the very hardest lessons in my life, but what you said is true. And I’m thankful God is forever and he gives us friends to share in this life with us, even when it doesn’t look like we expect. xoxo

    1. The friendship lesson is a doozy, right?! It certainly hasn’t been an easy one, but God taught me a few years ago to not chase after what He is removing from my life. He, more than anyone, knows how to guard our hearts from greater pain and I’ve resolved myself that while letting go is hard – sometimes it’s the only way to escape more hurt. But then new friends emerge – like you – across the world wide web and just bless us with their sweet words and encouragement!! Sending you a hug today, friend and grateful that we serve our forever God together. xo

  8. I love reading posts like this. We all welcome birthdays in different ways. I’m hoping I welcome 40 better than I did 30! ha! A friend recently told me once you hit 40 other people’s opinions don’t seem to matter as much to you. You seem to embrace who you are and your womanhood. I hope this is true for me. Happy belated Birthday! I hope all the dreams you are pondering in your heart come true!

    1. Your friend is right, Alecia. Though God had to wrestle that one from me just a bit. I’m such a people pleaser, but forty does give you some perspective and confidence about who you are…especially in Christ. The other opinions just kind of fade into the background. Ain’t nobody got time for that. 😜 Thanks for the birthday wishes and for visiting today. :)

  9. Tiffany, this is a terrific way to mark your special milestone. Happy birthday to you!! I can see the hand of God upon your life, your words and ministry, and the wisdom you have accrued almost unconsciously along the way. All of this spoke to me, but these words especially:”Now, I wonder if my dreams (old & new) are still attainable. Time feels like my enemy—maybe because I’m well aware that tomorrow isn’t promised” because those fears are ones I share, albeit two decades on from where you! And I love the way you seek to live with open hands, open heart and open mind. Such an inspirational way to be, and something I try to emulate too.
    So what have I learned after 60 years on the planet? Several things really, a whole blog post’s worth probably! But overriding them all is a deepening appreciation for God’s sustaining grace no matter what we may go through, and a greater awareness of His tremendous love poured out unceasingly day by day. I couldn’t (and wouldn’t want to try to) live well without those vital things. Blessings and love. :) Xx

    1. I love that wisdom, Joy – His grace does sustain so amazingly. We sometimes forget that it’s like the very air we breathe. Life would pale without it. I too grow more aware of His love every day and the lengths He has endured to lavish it on us. Thanks for sharing your heart and encouraging mine. May we all exude the vibrancy and “joy” that you do with your 60 years!

    1. Aw, thanks Lisa. I certainly don’t feel 40 – expect when taking the stairs. :) It’s certainly freeing to lay hold of the fact that I don’t know and stop trying to figure it all out. It’s God’s gift that comes with age – and yes, knowing less means taking in more of Him. Blessings, friend – thanks for visiting me.

  10. Happy, Happy Birthday!! It amazes me that, as we age, it doesn’t feel any different than before (other than a few creaks here and there). The myth of aging is that you lose yourself, your vibrance, and your peace. What a lie of the enemy!! Keep pouring out your beautiful wisdom and I pray many more wonderful years of ministry for you:)

    1. Thank you so much for those words, Meg. It’s true – the enemy does try to railroad us with so many lies about our age. And often we feel like society puts us out to pasture, right?! So glad that God values and treasures wisdom and that He sees fit to bless us with more every single day. Thank you for being here and for the birthday wishes – you’ve made the celebration last a little longer. Blessings!

  11. The older I get, the less I know (if that makes sense). We thought we knew everything in our 20s, but boy were we wrong! Such a lovely reflection of how we grow in wisdom as we age. Thank you for sharing, and happy belated birthday!

    1. Thank you, Sam – it’s so true … I think the longer we walk with the Lord the more we realize how able He is to handle all the things we’ve been trying to control and figure out. There is a great peace that comes in letting go. And at 40, peace is so sweet! :) Thanks for being here, friend.

  12. What a beautiful birthday post! So glad to be your neighbor at the #RaRaLinkup today! I loved it when you said “At forty, I know nothing. Truly.” This is SO comforting to me as a 23-year-old. I used to put so much pressure on myself to try to figure things out, but the older I get the more I’m realizing that we can’t really ever have life 100% figured out. Happy belated birthday to you dear Tiffany!

    1. Oh yes, Lauren – take a deep breath and rest in knowing you don’t need to know. :) 23 is such a great time and you have so many incredible journeys ahead of you. Savor it because I promise you I was 23 yesterday!! ;) Lean in and just know, He knows every path you take. The longer I walk with Him, the more grateful I am for the freedom that comes in that. Blessings to you and thanks so much for visiting me today – and for the birthday wishes! xo

  13. Awe, Happy Birthday to you. :) (Forty year olds get to celebrate all month. :) ) Lovely post you’ve written. Like you, I’d never return to the days when I thought I knew it all, (but really knew just about nothin’). Nice thing about being post-40 is that, even though we’re wiser–we’re also wise enough to know how little we know! :) Sweet post, this morning. Thanks for sharing. ((birthday blessings on you))

    1. All month?! Now you tell me. :) It’s a great balance to know that we don’t know and be good with that, right? Perhaps that’s because we know that God has it covered and our trust has increased to the point that FINALLY we are okay with that. Thanks so much for being here today and joining the conversations. Blessings!

  14. Tiffany, I really enjoyed this post, especially this: “As for the path and plans—I still make my own, but God has full veto rights and all the tantrums in the world won’t change His mind. Forty year olds still have tantrums, right?” Would you believe 50 year olds still have tantrums too. Get ready for your best decade yet! One think I’ve learned is that JOY is more important than I thought it was: a central ingredient to the Christian life, not just icing on the cake.

    1. Ha! Good to know there is no age cap on tantrums. ;) And I love your lesson – joy – amen. We can take that one for granted, can’t we?! So grateful that together we are tapped into the Ultimate Source and giver of joy. So blessed you stopped by, friend. Blessings!

  15. This is a beautiful post, Tiffany! I’m so grateful you shared it with us at Testimony Tuesday. As I age, I’m continuing to learn to offer grace to others. I’m a rules girl so that’s hard for me. But God continues to remind me that I’m not perfect (surprise, surprise!) and that I can’t expect or require that from others. Happy happy birthday to you…and welcome to a new decade! Every one gets better and better!

    1. Oh, Holly – receiving grace blows me away but giving it can be a tough one for sure. I’m a rules girl too, so the fact that perfection is an illusion – yes, that’s a big lesson too and there is such freedom in receiving that one – and giving it away. Thanks so much for stopping by today. Hugs!

  16. Love this! We know everything but nothing as we get older. I have no great tidbits of wisdom as I grow older but I have life experiences that mark the way. I also have one constant that will never change and who always walks through the ups and downs with me and that is God. That alone is the best gift as we celebrate each birthday. Happy belated birthday and may you continue to remember that God makes us wise and loves us beyond all we can imagine.

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