Turning 40 plus 1: Yes, I will

Ha! That’s me. I turned 40 plus one on Sunday! Just in case you need a reminder that is four decades plus one year.

I know, I know, I don’t look past 32 (*wink*), but I’ve had a long-time friend tell me that I seem to always be looking better as I get older. Wait..what??

Side bar – So what did I look like before?

Turning 41
oh, yeah….no words!!

Ironically, we are heading out as I am writing this to a friend’s 40th birthday dinner. It seems there are a group of us either turning 40 or 41 this year - 73’ and 74’ were awesome year’s friends!

Can I get honest?

Last year I hated turning 40! I didn’t like it. I wanted to believe I was still 35, not 40. 40 meant I was getting old. 40 meant I was closer to 50. 40 meant I was possibly through half of my existence.

I hate admitting that I had a hard time with turning 40. Other 40 year olds I know accepted turning 40 much more gracefully than I did. Looking back, it seems a little selfish of me, given that growing older is an opportunity not everybody gets – and this hard truth has hit closer to home in recent years than I’d like.

But now that I’m 41, I think I’ve finally gotten the “I hate turning 40″ pity party out of my system. Listen, I’m still not crazy about the fact that I’ll never ever go back to my 20s or 30s. And, frankly, I’m a little confused about where those decades went? I’d trade a month’s supply of wrinkle cream for another night of watching the Flock of Seagulls or Depeche Mode at Knott’s Berry Farm! (and all the spiritual-people went oohhh!!) I finally have some appreciation for what this new decade I’m in has to offer.

So, for what it’s worth, there are some things about turning 40 (or in my case 41) that are pretty awesome and you learn to appreciate those times a friend calls you and asks you what is wrong? You are not yourself. She tries to be nice about it, but I remember texting her and saying, “I think you just told me to get my “you-know-what” together, put a smile on and be happy for goodness-sake, life isn’t that bad!”

So...here are 5 things that will make turning 41 even sweeter.

1. Giving advice comes easy but only if others ask for it. At 41, the School of Hard Knocks qualifies you for at least a Bachelor’s degree in Advice Giving, right? (The Masters comes at 60!) This isn’t to say I have all the answers, far from it. But at 41, you’ve had enough experience to understand there’s actually very little in life that isn’t, at least, survivable. Sure, there have been events in my life that have changed me, like my dad passing away just before I turned 40. But at 41, I will still get up each day and put one foot in each pant leg like everyone else. At 41 chances are you’ve seen close friends or even yourself go through it (illness, divorce, layoffs, bankruptcies, etc.) and live to tell about it. When you hear someone say “Time heals all wounds” you realize it isn’t a cliché but that it really does take A LOT of time.

2. You know who your true friends are. Gosh, this has been a freeing one for me. At 41, that fuzzy line that existed in your 20s and 30s between ‘friends’ and ‘acquaintances’ can be drawn with laser precision. By now, you’ve weeded out the “I’ll be your friend because I need something from you” friend and the “surface” friends. And, truthfully, I’ve probably been weeded out too. At 41, you understand that it is perfectly normal to have a social circle of which only a handful are really your true friends. You might not have as many friends as you did in your 20s or 30s (and, no, Facebook is not your radar of pure friendships!), but there’s comfort in finally understanding who your true friends are. True friends don’t care if you’ve had a bad day, if you’ve been incognito for months, if your house is a mess. They are the ones who pick up the phone and ask you what’s wrong or like you just the way you are, no matter how imperfect you may be.

3. You finally accept who you are. At 41, you no longer need acceptance from others to feel good about yourself. You start to feel comfortable in your own shoes. You no longer feel the need to be someone that you’re not, inside or out. Keeping up with every fashion trend, diet, or the Jones’ (which I think I learned at 35) you find as a simple waste of time. So forgive me if you see me in my capris or some comfy Timberline boot cut pants with flip-flops today instead of skinny jeans, see me makeup-less, or if I haven’t ombre-ed my hair or painted my nails or maybe gained 10 of the last 30lbs I lost (I’ll eat salads next week after my birthday cake). At 41, I’m OK with being me.

4. Do what you enjoy. At 41, you have the wisdom to finally start living your dreams. When you are in your 20s and 30s, time seems infinite. So you feel totally OK with doing meaningless things or spending it doing things that don’t really make you happy. After all, there’s always sooner or later. It’s easy to put your dreams and passions off to the side or on the back burner to focus on a career or a family in your 20s. But, at 41, you begin to realize that sooner is now later and the days are fleeting. Time really does fly. Why waste it doing something that makes you unhappy? I understand that the mortgage needs to get paid, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take that calligraphy class you’ve been excited about, train for that half marathon you’ve been wanting to do, or make all 60 pie recipes from “A Year of Pies: A Seasonal Tour of Home Baked Pies” in a year because learning how to make the most beautiful pie crust is a feat in and of itself.

5. You know what’s important. At 41, you begin to finally realize that the most important thing on this earth is the eyes that stare at you every day - your family. At 41, there are no more babies to wipe bottoms for or sit on the carpet and play with. The intentionality to them and for them has changed. Although Savannah Guthrie has changed that for some women in their 40s wanting a child! Congrats! At 41, you see purpose in your life. Purpose is different than passion. Purpose is seeing your kids and saying to yourself, “I want to try and do the best job I can do as a mother, because if I fail at this, I fail them.” (Probably just me)

At 41, you realize too that none of this would be possible without Jesus and the true, raw, and real relationship you have with Him. That He takes your imperfect and causes it to be a blessing. He takes your stupidity of your 20s and 30s and says, “Yep, that, see that, I’m going to take it and use it for My good.” I could be a mentor that might have all the answers, have the truest of friends, accept myself for who I am or do what I’m passionate about, but will never want to walk a day in my life without the One who provides the answers when He makes a way where there seemed to be no way. The One who is the only friend I need but gives me favor to love others also. The One who accepts me because He made me and the One who gives me the desires of my heart. Nothing about turning 41 brings me more gratefulness than a God who truly has been there all these 41 years. He knows every step I’ve taken thus far, every decision I’ve made and I wouldn’t change a thing.

Maybe you just turned 40 or 41; do you have anything that needs to be added to this list?