Today is my birthday.
I’ve been dreading it for half a decade, and now it’s really here.
Today I am officially . . . 30.
Okay, so what’s the big deal, right? Age is just a number. Thanks to my mom’s round face—which she told me I’d appreciate someday—most people guess me younger than I am. But still, there’s something about the digits 4-0 that say, over-the-counter eye cream cannot help you anymore.
You’re an older woman now.
In many ways, hey, I’m content with that. Age brings wisdom and a better understanding of who I am according to God’s timeless point of view. That’s a reason to celebrate, amen? I certainly wouldn’t want to regress ten or twenty years in knowledge or stature. Truly, I don’t even need the wrinkle-free skin or superhuman capacity to stay up past 11.
But you know what I do miss? My youthful courage. My old version of optimism.
Twenty years ago, I believed I could punch my stamp on the world. Every possibility was ahead of me. Sure, I was dirt poor and stressed out, with term papers to write and immature relationships to navigate, but I had something priceless in my pocket—potential.
It was exciting.
Fast forward now through two decades of blessings, trials, joys, disappointments, responsibilities, exhaustion and hard lessons learned, and my outlook is different. Somewhere along the way, my rose-colored glasses got fogged up. I wouldn’t say I’ve become jaded, necessarily, but I am cautious. Pragmatic. Weary. Maybe even a little frumpy.
I refuse to succumb to frumpy.
Is it possible for a 40-year-old woman to look 20 again? I believe so—in the very best sense. Here’s how I plan to do it.
1. Dream. Between college graduation and retirement, my traditional career span is nearly halfway over. But is that halfway empty or full? The way I see it, as long as I’m still breathing on this planet, I have work to do for God. I ought to keep dreaming of ways to serve him, new goals to reach, new visions to cast. God gave each of us certain gifts to use for his purposes—some of which it took me the last twenty years to discover and develop—so I’d darn well better use them now and still when I’m 60, 80, or 100.
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10).
2. Learn. At age 20 I was hungry for knowledge. Playing the student came naturally then, when life consisted of classrooms and textbooks and midnight Pizza Hut on speed-dial. Yet our world is an everlasting classroom if we allow it to be. There’s always more to learn. I want to reach out to mentors in their 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s, and find out what lessons they can impart. They are no less valuable at their age than I am at mine.
“Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance” (Proverbs 1:5).
3. Laugh. Wow, have I ever become uptight in middle age. Where is that lighthearted girl who loved to giggle? She has responsibilities now, you know. Parenting, marriage, ministry, health insurance and property taxes—these and a hundred other grown-up worries weigh heavy on my chest, because life is not a game, okay, people? What are you laughing at? Oh. I still have a Hello Kitty sticker stuck to my butt, don’t I? Compliments of my preschooler. The 20-year-old me would’ve cracked up over that. I want to be like her.
“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones” (Proverbs 17:22).
4. Open my eyes. When I was in my early 20s, I dreamed of meeting the man who would capture my heart. I imagined how happy life would be with children and a house and my own washing machine. Family life was something I aspired to then—and now? Now I complain about it. The laundry, the kids’ bickering, my husband’s socks on the floor. Yet if only I could see myself through the eyes of the girl who longed for this hectic, toy-infested household, I’d realize I’m living my dream. This is everything I wanted. And I am blessed.
“Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from him” (Psalm 127:3, NLT).
5. Claim my space in the world. Youth comes with a funny mix of insecurity and cockiness. You can be clueless yet entitled—because our society values young beauty and talent. Up until now, I realize I wore my youth like a badge. The 20s and 30s are a safe zone for relevance, it seems. But I’m 40 now. It’s time to relinquish my membership. It’s time to value me for me, and not for the age on my driver’s license.
Honestly? It feels a little rebellious. Like freedom.
Like being 20 again.
So from this day forward, I refuse to allow messed-up American culture to boss me around. Magazines, TV, even some evolving church trends would tell me I’m less relevant at 40 than I was at 20. But do you want to know what the Bible says about that?
“Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained by living a godly life” (Proverbs 16:31, NLT).
Well, then. I need to go blow out some cake candles now, before they set off the fire alarm. But I’ll leave you with this thought. Whether you’re 20 or 40 or 80 years old—do not fear another birthday.
Not everybody gets to grow old.
Joe Pote says
A beautiful post by a beautiful lady!
Yes, at any age, it is our ability to dream and learn…our ability to see the world through wide-eyed wonder…to see God’s miracles in every-day events that makes us beautiful.
Happy Birthday, Becky!
Thank you so much, Joe! You’ve made me smile today!
Maria Myers says
I love all of this, but I have to disagree on the eye cream point. For obvious reasons, and the fact that some really CAN turn back the clock. 😉
Oh, friend, note I said “over the counter” eye cream. 🙂 At my age, I need the good stuff. And I know where to get it!
Maria Myers says
Ha! Ok good as long as we’re on the same page. 😉
Welcome to the age of freedom, my friend. Life does shift a bit in sweet, unexpected ways once we turn 40. With each passing year, I’m learning to appreciate it more and more. Loved this post!
I’m so glad I’m in your good company, Monica!
Oh, you’re speaking my language here, girl! And since I’m 30 plus 10 plus 2, I AGREE whole-heartedly that this is the decade to dream, to laugh, and to live with risky faith that will leave a mark for the Kingdom. Love that we’re trekking this road together. Happy, happy birthday, dear friend.
BIG HUGS across the lake!
Such a powerful truth I’ve learned the hard way: not everyone is blessed with aging. Each day is a precious gift! Keep laughing and loving, loving on your family, and writing these encouraging words each week.
Blessings to you.
Thank you, Courtney! You’re so right, every day is a gift. Blessings!
When I was in my 30’s I longed for the day that people would take me seriously and recognize that I had wisdom that could help them regardless of how young I was. But once I reached about 45, I began to feel like people, once again didn’t want to take me seriously because now I was getting too old! So, in my thinking, I only allowed myself 5 years to bask in the depth and beauty of my identity. As soon as 46 rolled around I became insecure that all these “young whippersnappers” would not want to hang out with old, crotchety me! 😉 I’m now 51 and don’t worry near as much about all that stuff. But I have to tell you, Becky, it’s a major discipline to keep my thoughts in check on this! Great and wise words! I do think your God-given wisdom makes you more beautiful than any 20 year old could hope to be!
I can already tell this will be a discipline for me, too, Beth. In my sight, your window of influence is so much wider than 5 years. 🙂 Hugs!
I’ll be 40 soon, too. And I had this awful thought the other day that it was too late for me to do something… like I couldn’t unless I had a do-over from years ago. But that’s just silly, right?
Silly. For sure. I feel that way, too, sometimes, though. Silly but natural.
I love all those things and I think it’s important to remember that we can do so many of the things we did in our 20’s even when we get older.
All the more reason to take care of the temple… and embrace the wisdom that comes with age!
Heather @ Encouraged at Home says
This 43 year old loved this! Thank you! I was glad that you mentioned dreaming. I still do, but have kind of wondered if I was foolish for doing so. And thank you for reminding me to not be so uptight sometimes! Happy Birthday to you!
Not foolish at all, Heather. I’d call that faithful. 🙂 Thank you for the birthday wishes!
Happy birthday! You will rock your forties. I am (sigh) in my late forties now and I’m still rocking things (mostly.)
And yes, yes, yes about good eye cream. Moisturizer is definitely your friend.
Thank you, Jill! Late forties, late twenties… the difference is all in our heads (and a little bit in our joints and waistline, eh?). Blessings!
For one that is inching ever so closely to that grand age, I love the wisdom in this and it was far from what I expected when I first read the title. How beautiful it is to see ourselves involve with each new season of our lives. Hope you enjoyed a wonderful birthday.
Well, I think you look better than a 20 year old! And this is the best youth formula, lady. Happy birthday.
Well said, Becky! Attitude is everything when it comes to aging, and everything else in life. Happy Birthday to you!!
Erica Layne says
I’m so glad you shared this one again, Becky, because I absolutely loved it! I’m a few years behind you, but I actually feel older than my age (what does that say about me?? I think kids have a way of doing that to ya. 🙂 So I really appreciated these reminders about how to capture youth and keep it. It’s all in the attitude.
Hope your 40th year is going well! I think you’re rockin it! (Pinning, btw!)