I’ve wanted to write a reflective blog on turning 40 for the past several weeks now. And I REALLY wanted to write it before I turned 40, because I wasn’t ready to own it yet. I wanted 40 to remain in the future. However, time and priorities didn’t allow for it, so now, on the morning of March 17, 2017, I have turned 40. I am 40.
It doesn’t seem like it’s my reality. I’ve been saying the number out loud since 2017 began; the year I anticipated I would turn 40. I remember turning 30 only a few years ago, right? A
whole decade has passed since that wonderful surprise birthday party my girls threw for me?! Now most of those girls are in their 30’s with families, and one month old Brisa at that party just turned 10.
Forty just always seemed so old, especially as a 20 something. I remember my Mom turning 40, and the kind 20 year old daughter that I was making her a cake with black roses and RIP headstones. (I’m so sorry, Mom, never again. I would be sad if anyone did that to me today, or ever.)
I’m remember a few years later my boss, Jack, turning 40. We made a big deal of it in our campus ministry. We gave him a big collage of all his “long years” of ministering to students (anything beyond 5 years seems like a long time to a student).
When I imagined myself at 40, I imagined myself married with kids, but along the way I imaged myself married by at least 25 and having a kid by 30. I’m only about a decade behind those desires.
I don’t feel 40, not that I know what 40 should feel like. I primarily hang around 18-24 year olds and imagine myself about their age, a little older, like a big sister (I certainly don’t have their energy anymore to be their age). But now that I have high school classmates with at least 3 kids in college, I have to accept I am now old enough to be their mother, because I am their mom’s age! Ha!
As much as I desired marriage in my 20’s, I made sure to make the most of my single years. I got to travel the world on several mission trips. Exploring countries such as Bosnia, Croatia, Serbia, Italy, Austria, Germany, Kenya, Ethiopia, and several states in Mexico. I also needed to allow God to do some major healing in my life. I was pretty high strung in my teens and 20’s. My value was in my performance and failure was not an option – in grades, in work, in life, in anything.
I was known as The Hammer. A truth teller. And boy did I tell it, and not sugar coat it. As I grew in God’s grace and knowing His love for me, I allowed Him to shape me into a woman whose “conversation [was] always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that [I] may know how to answer everyone.” Col 4:6
Now the girls I meet can’t even believe that was ever me. Praise God for that!
God also developed in me an attitude of patience during my single years. It’s a little different being an older mom, as most of the moms with kids my age are 10-15 years younger than me. And while I don’t have their energy to keep up, I am thankful for the wisdom and patience that I have, wisdom and patience I would not have had in my 20’s or early 30’s. I’m pretty confident that I am in a place to be a better mom now than in any earlier season of my life.
The place that I most feel my age, and enjoy it, is in my career (the place I most feel and don’t like it is in my body! One instance: I had to buy a bigger alarm clock the other day because I couldn’t read the numbers on my previous one at night anymore). With being in full time campus ministry for 18 years now, I have given my life to disciplemaking, learning all that I can, doing all that I can (especially during my single years), and passing on all that I can. I love investing in girls’ lives. My life verse is 2 Timothy 2:2 (NIV) And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others. I want to entrust through discipleship (spiritual mentoring) what I know to girls who will also pass on what they know through discipleship.
I’m not sure how good of a job I did my first half decade (age 20-25) of discipleship, as I figured this whole mentoring thing out. I hopefully helped a few girls, but I did make some wonderful friends (Whitney, Sara, Chrisa, Kelly, and others). But these latter years, especially the last 6, I have really enjoyed mentoring from a place of wisdom that I didn’t fully realize I had until I started teaching it in seminar s.
During the first 20 years of life, each year provided a significant milestone. During the 20’s, the milestones spread out, but are still frequent. I feel like the 30’s just flew by. When you’re young, 10 years is a significantly long time. A 22 year old doesn’t have much in common with a 12 year old. We become different people, physically, spiritually, emotionally, relationally in those 10 years. But I don’t feel too different now from when I was 30. I had milestones of becoming a wife and mother during the decade of my 30s, but I still feel like the same person. If you are 20 and reading this, the next 20 years will blink by. They are significantly different paced then your first 20 years. My advice to you is own your life. Make the most of it. Don’t let it pass you by. Set goals. Create dreams. And go for them. Life can just tick along uneventfully for the next 20 years if you let it. If you have dreams of going to Africa, make plans for it. If you want to write a book, set goals, make a plan and get help for it to happen. Otherwise, life is happy to have you become complacent, see Many Aspire, Few Attain. That article is something I want to read every few years for the rest of my life. I have seen the terrible attrition rate when it comes to living for Jesus for the long haul.
If you are single, make the most of your single years. Most of you will get married at some point (that’s just statistics and observing the 100’s of college girls over the past 20 years that I have known). Make the most of the time you have to be single. Then make the most of the time you have to be married. Then make the most of the time you have to be a parent of children under your roof. Being an older mom has given me a perspective of how quickly time flies and how quickly kids grow. I remember when Karen, my best friend from high school, got pregnant at 20 and had her first kiddo. I remember holding Tori as an infant. And now Tori is a sophomore in college and engaged to be married! I realize quite well that I don’t get to have Aurora for very long. 18 years goes quick from my perspective!!
So here’s to 40. I didn’t want it to come, because it seems so old. But age is what we make of it. My 30’s were pretty awesome, and I want my 40’s to be fabulous!
Making the most of 40, day 1, begins today!
oh! and a benefit to keeping in contact with highschool friends…I’m not the only one turning 40 this year!