As I sat last night on my couch on the eve of my fortieth birthday I realized I was in anticipation for the day. An age that twenty years ago I thought I might dread, I now find exhilarating. Every day, for the last seven or so years, has gotten better than the one before it. So it’s no wonder that when my baby brother tried to tease me about it at church on Sunday I answered like I did.
“No problem, man,” I said smoothly. “Forty is the new thirty. Or maybe even the new twenty.”
I guess you could say I’m a late bloomer in life. It took me a little longer than some to figure out what was important. But then again, I may have figured it out sooner than others. I guess what’s abundantly important is that it’s never too late to discover what you want out of life, what matters the most, and to not let the burdens of this world keep you from them.
Your past doesn’t define you. You define you.
It doesn’t matter if you come from a long line of alcoholism.
You can be sober.
It doesn’t matter if you existed for too many years in an abusive, unhealthy relationship.
You can find happiness with someone who treats you with respect and dignity.
It doesn’t matter if you were a Mary Magdeline (like, before Jesus came along) or the Samaritan woman at the well.
Jesus makes all things new.
You’re not your family history. You’re not your past mistakes. You’re not even your past reputation. Chains can be broken, the past can be forgotten and forgiven, and you can move forward. I, for one, am grateful of that.
It’s easy in this life to make excuses. You can say, “I’ve always had the worst of luck,” or you can feel like your disappointing situation is simply your lot in life. You can say you’re the way you are because of how you were raised, what happened to you growing up, the people who hurt you, or even because of the people you have hurt. And though those circumstances do shape you into the person you have become, they do not define who you have to be. Believe me; been there, done that.
The vibrant, joyful woman who turns 40 today is in stark contrast to the hopeless, frail woman who turned 30 a short decade ago. That woman was a broken vessel. Thankfully, we all can use some mending.
The wonderful news is it’s never too late to start living life to its fullest potential. It’s never too late to change. It’s never too late to overcome addictions, remove obstacles that impede us, and cut out those things or people from our life that hamper us. It’s never too late to believe that it’s never too late.
For me, I feel like my twenties were a blur, like I wasn’t even really living life at all. I was barely existing. So though my body turns forty today, my spirit feels young and new. I enter my forties with exuberant expectation for what this decade holds.
Let each day be that. Let it be one where you wake up eager to see what’s in store, eager to move forward (not backwards), and eager to be the person you were designed to be.