This summer I faced down one of life’s major milestones—and I lived to tell about it. It was The Birthday, the one everyone dreads, the Big Forty.
As the date neared, I kept watch for the cloud of middle age to settle in over me. I’ve heard about it from others who have gone before me. They have attested to the age-blues rolling in over their hearts, causing them great distress.
So I braced myself for the worst.
Gladly, I made it safely to the other side of forty with no mental or emotional blips, which made me wonder what all the fuss was about. One day I was thirty-nine and the next forty; other than that, nothing really changed. I felt like I missed something!
I’ve since pondered the roots of this aging phobia. Certainly a large part of it is cultural. In today’s idealization of youth, aging is viewed as a loss. It is something to be feared. We may not be able to avoid the numerical swell of age, but we feel the need to avoid the telltale signs that betray our fleeting youth. Excessive exercise, fad diets, hair dye, skin treatments, nips and tucks—all these we pursue to stave off the effects of age’s advance. We try to avoid reality by striving for an impossible ageless perfection that even young women cannot attain to without the aid of photo-editing tools.
Although true, I believe it’s even more than that.
So often, we as women set our hearts on all the things we don’t have. It’s the classic Greener Grass Syndrome. All we want is everything we can’t have. And as time passes beyond our side of the fence, we can only gaze longingly at what was. Time becomes a thief of the present, stealing our peace, killing our future, and destroying our contentment. We think the past holds all the good stuff, which distracts us from anything good that may be heading our way.
Although it’s easy to be ruled by time’s threat, God’s Word admonishes: “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” (Col. 3:2). Time is earthly, a pseudo ruler. When we set our minds on it, we forget that God is even greater than Time. When we set our minds on things above, the truth of God’s promises rise above all that’s fleeting. We remember that Jesus promises: “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).
It may feel like time is stealing our youth and beauty and vitality from us. But through Christ, God has intervened, upending Time’s limited rule. One day, He will restore in full what Time has taken in part. Jesus has, indeed, come to bring us life.
Even life after forty.