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.
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 …
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?
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).