With almost a year under my belt in the 40’s club, I’m not sure if I fully agree with the trending statement, “40’s is the new 30’s”. Honestly, I don’t feel any different than I did in my 30’s. Praise God for that! But the core of who I am is not the same as the person I was in my early 30’s. There’s been some for sure growth, mindset changes and changes of how I see myself and other people for that matter. I believe my outlook on life itself has changed.
I had been married for only three years when I joined the 30’s club. I remember thinking what a fairy tale marriage would be! I thought my husband would be my knight in shining armor and would fulfill anything lacking. Of course, I was a Christian but I can see now based on my actions back then that I didn’t have a full understanding that only Christ can fulfill every desire and need. Not my husband, family, friends. No one else but Him.
Lesson # 1: I’ve learned to cling to and fully depend on God (Psalm 18:2; Proverbs 3: 5-6; Jeremiah 29:13). I am still not perfect in this area, but it’s a constant knowing in my heart how much I need Him and that He alone is perfect. Humans who are flawed such as myself can’t be everything for everybody. Sure, my husband tries to be the husband God called him to be. And most days, he does a great job of doing so. But even on his best days, oftentimes a void is still left in my heart that I now willfully turn to God to fulfill.
Lesson # 2: See my husband as God sees him. I love my husband to pieces. He is my best friend and I honestly enjoy him. He means the world to me! However, as mentioned earlier he falls short at times in my eyes. If you look hard enough at anyone, you can find their weaknesses. We all have them. But God’s word says His power works best in our weaknesses (II Corinthians 12:9). It alone is sufficient. I choose to look at my husband through this lens. Through the power of Christ working in Him. God sees not merely who He is now, but who He has destined him to become. Through prayer and being the wife He needs me to be, I believe my husband will fulfill all that God wants Him to be. This helps me do away with nagging, false expectations, etc. My love for my husband is not dependent upon what he does to me, instead I strive to show my love towards him despite what he does. This is one of the ways I have chosen to honor my covenant with my husband by loving him unconditionally.
Lesson # 3: I’ve learned I can’t hold others to a higher standard than I’m able to meet myself (Colossians 3:13). As perfect as I’d like to think I am, I miss the mark more often than I’d like to admit. But yet God lovingly forgives me when I come to Him humbly acknowledging I’ve messed up. Again. God has shown me I don’t always treat people closest to me in this manner. Generally speaking, I don’t love as He loves. I Corinthians 13 breaks me down every. single. time. Recently I had a time of prayer and discussion with close friends and I began to talk about this chapter and I couldn’t stop the tears from flowing! I want to love unconditionally. Not keeping records of wrong. Not being impatient. Not being easily angered. Not being self-seeking. But instead, being longsuffering. Always hopeful. Persevering. This lesson I believe God will continue to drop nuggets for me to learn even after I’m no longer a member of the 40’s club.
Lesson # 4: People’s opinions of me don’t matter. There was a time I said this verbally, but it was a lie. People’s opinions DID matter. Things I did were done to belong or to be well-liked. I enjoyed the praise of others. In a sense, I expected it at times because I was affirmed at home by my parents so I thought others would treat me the same way. And when they didn’t, it felt like a slap in the face. But I’ve grown past this desire to belong knowing I already belong. I no longer need approval from others and can live free knowing He approves of me. This is where I reside now. Each morning, I awaken with an unexplainable peace that no matter what anyone else says about me, He loves me and thinks great thoughts about me (Psalms 8:4; Jeremiah 29:11) . I am the apple of His eye (Zechariah 2:8). I have been adopted into His kingdom and for that, I’m forever grateful (Romans 8:15; Ephesians 1:5).
Lesson # 5: Have sisters close to you whom you can bleed to. This should be someone you can be totally transparent with. I don’t have to put on a façade. I can vent, cry, yell, and do whatever I have to do. And they are there to love me through it. Think quality over quantity here. The days are long gone when I loosely use the term “best friend”. In fact, I wouldn’t say I have many friends at all. But those I’m blessed to call friends hold me accountable and tell me the truth even when it hurts me (Proverbs 18:24; 27:17). And we NEVER get to a place no matter what happens that we are no longer friends. Even when seasons change and we are busy, we pick up where we left off. They are stuck with me for life!
Lesson # 6: Family is important. I admit I can do better at making sure my family knows just how much they mean to me. This is something I’m now committed to doing. I saw a meme on social media that says, “I wish heaven had a phone so I could hear your voice one last time”. Perspective changer! How fortunate we are to have family to do life with? Let your family members know how much you love them. Schedule times to talk to and spend time with family. You will miss this opportunity when it’s gone. But it will be too late. I realize the older my parents get, the more they treasure phone calls made and visits to their home. Time spent with family is well spent. Cherish it.
Lesson # 7: No is a complete sentence. I have no time to waste. Things I deem important are those things that are in line with what God would have me to do. I don’t have the energy to do anything else. I’ve learned I can’t allow people to make me feel guilty for things I can’t be involved in. Honestly, some I don’t want to be involved in. I can’t have my hands in too many things or something is going to go lacking. In this season of my life, I want what I do to be purposeful therefore I have to intentionally guard my time. Be okay with saying no without having to explain your reasoning. After all, time is precious and is something we can’t get back. I cringe thinking about how many hours I’ve wasted doing things that would not profit me in the grand scheme of things. I have a new understanding of the scripture in I Corinthians 10:23 which says “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not”. Some things are not bad per se. Of course, I’m not talking about sinful things. But they may not spiritually edify you. They may not build you up or help you to build others. They are simply time-wasters.
As long as we live, we will continue to grow and learn. In fact, we should. Complacency and being stagnant should not be an option for any of us. Dear sisters, enjoy the journey God has you on. He desires for each of us to be better. To become wiser. To trust Him with everything in us. Ask Him what He wants to teach you. And then be willing to learn. This is the kind of prayer He loves to answer.