I spent my first morning of my forties at a breakfast table at a Catholic retreat center surrounded by three wise women in their 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s. I hesitantly shared that I approached today with some trepidation. I have long carried with me the ideas of what my 40th year would look like. Year 38 found me pushing hard in that direction but somehow my entire 39th year became a giant blur, just a fuzzy memory and here I am now 40 years old feeling none the wiser and ever so far behind on life.
I should be here with a completed manuscript. I should be 2 sizes smaller and able to run long distances and still look cute while posing for that post-race selfie. My kids should be remarkably well-adjusted and peaceful, all the while being creative and independent. My home should practically clean itself because by now I have mastered organization so it is clear to everyone where things should go, so my well-adjusted, peaceful, creative, and independent children will desire to keep it looking ready for a potential Pottery Barn photo shoot. I should be doing meaningful life-giving ministry. And I should obviously know and be prepared for what I will do when my youngest goes to school in just another year and a half.
And here I am at forty with none of those very important accomplishments in place.
Yet these women know better than I. The look of peace and reassurance on their faces spoke to me. They talked about the freedom they felt after forty. How something seemed to click and the expectations they had for themselves and they felt from others didn’t matter anymore. They knew who they were. Fifty is even better. Angst will always be with you. All seven year old girls are moody.
These are the things I needed to hear.
It’s hard for me to not feel like I haven’t accomplished enough. I don’t think I would be labelled a goal oriented person, but my years of retail have taught me to keep track of trends and percentages and I am well aware the longer I go without progress the more steep the climb to get to where I want to be. It’s daunting and often paralyzing, but I don’t want to feel stuck.
So I declare what I know. I have the most amazing husband. Really. He’s the best. I have three children who even when we are all sick with the stomach flu bring me such joy. I have a family that loves me. I have friends I can laugh with, cry with, and send ridiculous emoji ridden texts with. And I have spent 37 of my 40 years walking with Jesus. Even in my darkest times I have had full knowledge that He was with me.
Those things I haven’t accomplished yet? They are still on my list, but my worth isn’t defined by them.
Later on when we gathered as a larger group, they all reached their hands across the room and prayed a blessing over me.
“So the Lord blessed Job in the second half of his life even more than in the beginning. “ Job 42:12
So let it be.