There’s less than one week till my 40th birthday. Oh, have I mentioned that already? Well, anyway, it’s on Friday, October 25th. I’ll give you a moment to mark it on your calendar.
I’m making a big deal of it. Since the beginning of the month I’ve been talking about it all over the place, reminding my friends and family daily about this upcoming milestone. Perhaps over-celebrating it will reduce the impact when those big numbers – in Roman numerals that’s XL – actually hit.
Physically, I’m noticing my age. Not just on the surface, like wrinkles and age spots, but functional things like failing eyesight and a chronically sore left knee.
But I’ve recently come to view the aches and pains not as a sign of what’s to come, but as the sign of transition. This is what trade-off feels like. Wisdom for beauty via pang, spasm and twinge. And that’s when I realized that I am going to be A-OK with 40.
Because (a) I never had this beauty thing down, certainly not in my teens.
And (b), I was a foolish young woman with regrettable behaviour. It’s taken me 40 years to learn some very important things, things I wouldn’t trade for the world. And they’ve come with age and most often they’ve come via heartache. Strangely, it’s resulted in a gift worth more to me than gold and I wouldn’t give it up for minimized pores or rocking skinny jeans.
At 40, I understand I get to be obnoxious, correct? So indulge me as I share 20 things that took me 40 years to learn. 20 things I didn’t know at 20… because I hadn’t yet had the full experience of it (which can mean doing it the wrong way one or a few times).
1. Life is meaningless without friendship. Therefore, work to keep the friends you have (especially your family) and be a friend to those who need one.
2. Do not fear conflict. When addressed properly, it has the potential to deepen your friendships.
3. .Just because you’re right doesn’t mean you’ve won. I’ve bolded that because this was the biggest lesson I’ve ever learned – which cleansed our marriage – with a fantastic back story of turmoil and tension and those words coming from John-Mark’s mouth toward me. My insistence on being right (and trying to correct what was “wrong” in him) almost tore our marriage apart. It is much preferable to win in marriage than to be “right.”
4. A nap is often the best remedy for an argument. If you feel grumpy, critical, negative, go to bed already, then we’ll talk. Again, J-M’s words to me.
On Church and Ministry
5. Church can be so very ugly… and breathtakingly beautiful. On this side of eternity, it’s a holy mess. But at its best it’s a foretaste of heaven.
6. The key to loving the church is realizing that we are the church.
7. Hope for everything, expect nothing. Hope keeps you encouraging, challenging, and loving others. Having no expectations takes the weight off your shoulders and keeps you from taking it personally when others have their own unique journey of faith…
8. Use your gifts. God has equipped believers in a unique way to be a part of the church. How thrilling when you discover that he can use you. Also, let others use their gifts. Sometimes stepping away from ministry so that others can step in is the right decision.
9. It’s God’s kindness that leads us to repentance. There is nothing you have done that (a) he doesn’t already know about; (b) he won’t forgive.
10. There’s no more important thing to learn than forgiveness. God has forgiven you, you must forgive others. Walk in it, practice it daily. How about this – PRE-forgive! This is love.
11. We need others on this pilgrim’s progress – the faithful, the hopeful, the charitable – to teach us, to make the load lighter and the journey a joy. To seclude yourself is to weaken your faith.
12. God’s promises are not the mantra of the happy, they’re the lifeline for the suffering.
13. Neglect produces independence. Let me qualify this tongue-in-cheek statement – it’s about life skills. Let’s say that you forget to make your child’s lunch one day, they will most likely choose to make it themselves the following day. If you don’t pack their favourite PJs for their sleepover party, they’ll want to do it themselves next time. If they run out of underwear because you haven’t yet done the laundry, they may choose to learn. HYPOTHETICALLY of course.
14. Never refuse a request for a hug from your child. Never, never. You can’t over hug. Drop everything to give the hug. And force hugs on them from time to time, even when they don’t want them.
15. One’s role as parent has a progression from protector, to teacher, to coach, to friend. Try not to put these in the wrong order.
16. Your example will be the most powerful lesson for your kids, so love well, fight fair and make your bed too.
17. In order for truth to be the strongest voice in your head, immerse yourself in it. Preferably daily.
18. You must put your time in the trenches. The most mundane task, done well, leads to growth and opportunity. Everything is useful.
19. Never make a decision based on fear or solely on money. That is for those who feel they have no choice. One’s choices should be life-giving.
AND FINALLY (FOR NOW)
20. Stay curious. It is the remedy to many things, such as boredom, ignorance, and self-consciousness, to name a few.
Of course there’s a whole bunch more, like HAVE FUN, READ LOTS, GET REST, TRAVEL, but I’ve got my forties to beat you over the head with them. ;)
And so, believe it or not, despite my ranting, I’ve come to appreciate 40. Not because it’s “fabulous” or “the new 30.” Because it reveals a gift, given through the fine lines and grey hairs. There is great value in them.
Although… I’m still inclined to cover up the evidence.