I recently celebrated my 40th birthday. My husband surprised me by getting my best friend and her husband to fly in from Seattle and he threw me a giant surprise party at our church complete with a DJ and all my people from multiple different intersections of my life. It was a fun and joyful event and it made me feel so loved by my friends and family… which helped me offset the deep feelings about the milestone I had just set foot upon.
The interesting thing for me about my birthday is that it always instigates a well of feelings all around it. Is that unusual? I often wonder if that is other people’s experience as well… My birthday inspires me to do a lot of “checking in” about myself. Where am I from? What does that mean for me? Am I who I want to be? Did I achieve what I wanted to this year? What are my goals? What do I want to do next?
Although my birth certificate tells me that 40 years have passed since I have arrived on Earth, somehow it baffles me that I am truly this far along in life. I still feel 27 (and apparently I look it!); I have to catch myself when people ask me how old I am. I love the old adage that you are the age you feel. I certainly don’t feel 40!
I became a mother at the age of 27 and perhaps that is why that age is stuck in my heart. So much about us changes when we become parents. Dan Allender’s book, “How Children Raise Parents” is one of my all-time most favorite parenting books that I have read because it is so very true that raising children grows us and stretches us and presses us to look at God and ourselves in ways we never did before.
I’ve mentioned before that I am still deciding what I want to be when I grow up, but 40 has begun to change my mindset a bit. I’ve morphed from asking myself what I want to be when I grow up, to reminding myself that I AM grown and I am full of joy at the invitation to continue to discover the gifts I’ve been given and how I can utilize them in my sphere of influence.
There is a profound mystery in this life that we’ve been given. We love to “know” things so that we can make plans and respond well, but there is a limit to what we can know. That either frustrates us or it can pique our curiosity at what God has in store for us next.
As a mother of growing older kiddos, there is a lot of transition and undulation to my time and my attention. The moments of calm and quiet have invited me to consider with curiosity what God might be up to in my life and the path He has laid out for me. They give me an opportunity to learn and grow in areas I am passionate about for me personally because I have the space to do so. Yet there are also times when my moments are raging with activity; those are the times I need to remind myself of what to hold on to so that I am not blown and tossed about like waves of the sea. This quote by Mother Theresa grounds me often in this season of my life. It directs my attention to what I want my priority to be. I have this quote hanging on a huge canvas right outside my bedroom door so that as I go downstairs to “enter the world” each day, I pass it and am reminded of what matters to me.
I still don’t have a career outside of attending to my family. It sounds very strange to say that as a woman in today’s culture and certainly as a 40-year-old “grown up” woman. I still feel a sense of less-than or lacking whenever I am asked what I do. And yet, that is my ordinary life and I am grateful to “do” this job for the past 11(ish) years since quitting my paid position.
40 feels like a more steady age in many ways; so much life is still ahead and so much life has been experienced. What a sweet spot! I guess that leaves me as a grateful grown up after all.