Sunday, January 13, 2013

Being 40 Isn't All That Bad

When I turned 40 last November, I wasn't  thrilled about it.  Just ask my husband, he can vouch for that.  I felt like there was so much I wished I would have already accomplished by the time I reached that dreaded age. I felt like I had just entered the "old people" group. I wished I was healthier, physically more in shape.  I wished my home was in more order, so to speak.  I felt like I hadn't accomplished what I should have academically.  I only had an associate's degree after all, and that was only in Professional Preschool Education..... not something I could make big bucks at, nor anything to glory in by the world's standard. I simply felt unaccomplished in so many ways.  And that kind of thinking is dangerous.  What starts out as a simple evaluation of  'what have I done in my life for the past two decades', can easily turn into, 'I'm of no worth, I have nothing to show for the last 20 years of my life of any value, I can't do such and such as good as so and so.'

Thankfully, I have some pretty good friends who keep me in line, and just so happen to say the right thing, at the right time.  Apparently, 40 was the right time to tell me a few good things.  Some of those helpful words of advice came by way of texting. I had never received so many texts as I did on my birthday. I'm not much of  a texter, but sure found out how many really are when I woke up on my birthday to find 11 texts already.  I have some pretty good friends, and I'm so grateful for them.  Anyway, I'm getting off track....  My good friend Sandy, in Colorado texted me happy birthday and to have fun at Time Out For Women (a conference just for women, put on by some members of our church, which so happened to fall on my birthday).  I told her I sold my ticket, wasn't going, and that I'd try to enjoy turning 40. She told me to not get too crazy.  Knowing Sandy, I took that to mean.....'get over it, quit dwelling on the negative and just enjoy yourself.'  She put a smile on my face.

Another friend, Jill, wished me a happy birthday via text. I replied by saying that turning 40 sucks.  She quickly responded with the following..... 'No it doesn't, it's great to be at the age where all the competition and comparisons stop! Nobody to keep up with anymore.  Welcome to the club.'  I don't know why I had never thought of it that way before, but she was... she IS absolutely right!  What a waste of energy to compare myself to others. What do I care what people think of me???? Okay, I'll admit, there are times I have cared, and there will be times still I'm sure, but my perspective about it has all changed.  I should feel pretty darn happy with where my life is right now, and I am!
 The last friend that had some pretty sound advice was Leah.  She told me that age is all relative, and means nothing in the eyes of Heavenly Father. Again, another aha moment for me. Well of course it means nothing in the eyes of our creator.  I highly doubt He is sitting up there disappointed that maybe some of us haven't completed college yet, or have that high paying job yet, or even haven't been married by the time we were 23 and had 5 babies by the time we were 33.

If there are things I haven't accomplished yet at this stage of my life, the only person to blame is me. No one else. But just because I don't have a bachelor's degree YET, doesn't mean I didn't accomplish some pretty amazing things in between my 2 1/2 years at college and now.  I married a fantastic man, we have 5 beautiful children, remodeled our first home, built our second, and in our third (and final if I have anything to say about it) are remodeling again. We've (mostly him) built a business that is steady, has provided for our necessities and even some wants every once in a great while. I've served in our church in many different capacities throughout my married life.  AND, I have decided to go back to school! I am so excited about it.  I'll be doing it all online, and not quite sure what exactly I'll be studying yet. But THIS is the right time to do it.  The right time wasn't even when I was in college and only earned my associate's degree. It wasn't the right time when I was changing diapers for years.  NOW is the right time.

The funny thing is, I hadn't thought too much about going back to school before I turned 40, but just in the past few weeks, have felt a strong urge to do so, and who would have thought, after all that complaining about turning 40, that I felt like I had so much to look forward to now.
 As it turns out, I do have a lot to show for the past two decades.  I have accomplished some things of value.   The most important job I can do is within the walls of my own home.  I chose to be married.  I chose to have children and stay home to raise them as I was ( and thankfully still am) able.  It's easy to compare myself to the world and feel like I haven't accomplished what the world deems admirable.  But what many in the world express as admirable, isn't for me. I want a family more than a career. I want to live by the values and standards I was raised with and teach them to my children, more than living by the motto, 'eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.'

As I enter this new phase of my life, I hope that I can be an example to those now living in the decades I just surpassed. I would tell them, as professed in the scriptures, that there is a time and a season for everything.  Don't worry about what you wish you could do now, but for some reason or another you are not able.  Put forth your best effort in the life you are living now!

 Something magical happened when I turned 40.  I realized more than ever, that I am a child of God, am of great worth, and have so much more to give to my family, my church, and the world.  The number of years I have lived on this earth means nothing. It is insignificant.  It is what I choose to do with my life from the time I was born, to the day I will leave this earth that is of most importance.  It's how we spend that time, with whom we spend it, and making sure our lives are of service to others all the days of our lives is what really matters, regardless of our what family looks like.

Here's to the next 40 years.

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