Turning 40 can bring a lot of perspective on life … here are 40 lessons I’ve learned in 40 years!
I just turned 40.
Instead of being upset about the milestone, I’m choosing to celebrate it.
Not everyone gets to see their 40th birthday. I’m thankful that I got to spend the day celebrating with my husband, children, parents, and brother – another blessing that not everyone gets to see.
I’ve loved seeing how my favorite people in the whole world chose to show their love:
- My young son and daughter planned a birthday party for me, complete with a pinata and decorations — all encouraged, purchased and hosted by my parents.
- My husband cooked an amazing birthday feast of my favorite foods.
- My best friend showered me with a gift a day for the entire week leading up to my birthday.
As a person who usually plans birthday parties, it felt pretty good to be the object of so much love, generosity and thoughtfulness.
It does seem weird to consider myself middle aged. Really weird. But when I think of my gray, thinning hair and the fine lines appearing on my face, my age seems appropriate.
At 40, I feel like I know myself pretty well – and I’ve learned plenty about life, especially these 40 lessons:
1. God’s timing is not always your timing. Although you may not always be happy with this, it is what’s best for you.
2. The saying really is true – you are what you eat. Eat a bunch of crummy food and you’ll end up looking and feeling crummy. Eat a bunch of good, real food and you’ll end up looking and feeling good – really good.
3. Sometimes your childhood dreams come true.
4. And sometimes they don’t.
5. Sometimes you will instantly click with someone. You just know you’ll become good friends. (And you will!) But other times, as much as you may try, you just won’t click with other people.
6. You should say “I love you,” every single day.
7. Waiting can seem like an excruciating process. You will have to wait, though – whether you end up waiting to find a spouse, get pregnant, buy a house, get a new job, or discover test results. Waiting may not seem enjoyable. At all. But get used to it, and try to find some joy – or at least peace and contentment – during your wait.
8. You get what you pay for in a hotel. And a car.
9. At least once a season, immerse yourself in the weather – and be aware of it. Play in the snow in the winter. Walk in the springtime rain. Watch the stars outside on a warm summer night … or catch fireflies. Crunch through leaves in the fall. Marvel at God’s creation.
10. You will always have something to clean.
11. Sometimes, people are shy – not stuck up. Try to draw a person out to see if they’re shy, or actually just pretentious.
12. Travel. See some part of the world you haven’t seen before – whether it’s a different street in town, another state, or a different country.
13. If you’re blessed to find bosom friends, thank the Lord. Enjoy every moment you can with your friend. But don’t expect them to stay in your life forever. Chances are, one of you will move. Even so, keep investing in that friendship.
14. Go out of your way to treat others kindly and be the good that you’d like to see in the world. You can make a difference, even in just one other person’s life.
15. Give of yourself. Give your time. Give your treasure. Give your affections. In giving of yourself, you’ll find it is better to give than receive.
16. You may never acquire a taste for black coffee. Or beer. That’s OK.
17. You could be lonely in singleness. You could also be lonely in marriage. Make a choice not to be. Throw yourself into singleness if you’re single or marriage if you’re married, and enjoy your life as much as you can. (Hint: Enjoyment is made easier when you invest in other people or causes.)
18. Go to church every week. And get involved!
19. You never know what memories will stick around with you for years. Some will be incredibly random, like the pattern of the floor at your first restaurant job, or helping a friend move. Other memories will slip away forever.
20. Similarly, you never know what friends will stick around with you for years. Some friends – even if they seem like the most dear, best friends of all – may leave because of life’s circumstances. (See Lesson #13.) And some friends, you will notice, will unexpectedly stay close to you for decades. Invest heavily in these friendships.
21. Not every piece of clothing you wash should go in the dryer.
22. Your body will feel so much better if you exercise every day. Even if and when you don’t feel like it.
23. Manmade places and things can be interesting and a whole lot of fun, but God’s creations are truly amazing. Appreciate His handiwork as you look at the clouds, watch a sunset, or see His mountains … or valleys … or deserts … or oceans.
24. Right choices aren’t easy to make, but make them anyway.
25. In the course of 10 years, you can get a lot of gray hairs.
26. There’s one God, and we exist for Him. There’s one Lord, Jesus Christ, and we exist through Him.
27. Talk to children like they’re people who matter. (Because they are!)
28. Come to think of it, talk to any person – regardless of age, race, religion or ability – like they’re people who matter. (Because they are!) Everyone has feelings. And everyone wants to feel significant.
29. A recording will never capture the magic of a live performance. Take the time and money to go to live concerts, theater, and sporting events.
30. When dealing with people or businesses or organizations, find ones that are trustworthy and reputable. Stay loyal to these!
31. Not everyone marries the very first person they fall in love with.
32. It can be really easy to focus on what’s wrong. Try not to. Look for what’s right, even when it seems impossible.
33. The first day of snow each year is magical.
34. You don’t have total control of things like finances, health, or what others say or do. (You can affect these things very positively or negatively, though!) You do have control over your character. Because of this, make wise decisions. Make right decisions. Live with integrity.
35. Sprucing up an outfit is as easy as adding a piece of statement jewelry, scarf, sweater, or cool pair of shoes. It’s simple, yet looks so much more polished. (Speaking of looking polished … just get rid of any frumpy clothes you have. Even if they’re comfy. Put some effort into your outfits every day.)
36. Your family will include people with personalities that are very different from your own. You might be annoyed be this, amused, or you might appreciate it. Get used to the personalities, because you’ll likely see them on many holidays and when you need them the most … during heartbreaking times like funerals and joyous times like weddings.
37. Life is too short not to smile. (Make sure you laugh a lot, too!)
38. Enter contests. You never know when you might win.
39. A relationship with Jesus Christ is all that matters. It is the only thing that will bring you peace or hope. Pursue this relationship at all costs.
40. Always celebrate your birthday. You’re alive to see one more year! That calls for a celebration!
Finish this sentence: In my own life, important lessons I’ve learned are …
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