I turned 40 today with joy. I am happy to grow older. I have always been happy to grow older. Oh there’s stuff I don’t like about getting older – like the aches and pains that seem to plague me more easily when I don’t exercise or get enough rest; or the fact that my brain doesn’t work as quickly as it used to; or the fact that I get tired far more easily. But it is not difficult for me to see these as blessings too, as they remind me of my mortality and that this mortal body and life are not my home.
There are plenty more things I love about growing older. I love the wisdom that life’s painful lessons bring when I know how to listen. I love the insight that experience gives me into how to best spend my time and energy in what matters and how to let go of things that don’t. I love that after the striving of my 20s and 30s, I have finally arrived at a self-acceptance and self-love I simply could not possess in my youth – something that only came about because life’s varied experiences deepened my knowledge of God’s relentless and unconditional love for me. I love that God has turned the stumbles, heartbreaks and mistakes of my life into fruitful lessons with which I can accompany others with insight, compassion, humour and wisdom. Above all I love that I have finally become confident enough in my belovedness to stop caring about what others think about me and live more freely and joyfully.
I am much clearer now about who I am and who I am not. I no longer strive to be who I’m supposed to be but know how to trust in God’s slow hand in unfurling my being into becoming who I truly am – who He has always created me to be. I no longer care about winning trophies or awards or accolades, or if I am respected or admired or esteemed. I care now about growing in esteem for life, for the earth, and for my fellow human beings. I care about becoming better able to see goodness in others and more willing to accept their faults so that they too know they are beloved, and have hope. I care about living my life with more faith and abandon and to love more extravagantly without counting the cost fearfully as if love is something I need to hoard jealously instead of what is poured endlessly into my being from above.
I am more able now to enjoy pleasure and luxury without guilt, but also without greed and possessiveness; to receive with gratitude and to give away with a full heart and to find beauty in simplicity and wealth in poverty of spirit. I am no longer so concerned about my own spiritual progress but instead can gaze more simply at God and delight in Him, receiving His love for me as I am instead of stressing about becoming who I think I should be. In doing so, I have found that I am more able now to offer love without judging, speak truth without anxiety of how it (or I) would be received, and to wait in greater silence and patience for God’s time to come.
I marvel at the transformation God has wrought in me especially in the last decade. In many ways I have become so different from my younger self – I would like to think of it as me becoming a more purified version of my True Self through the furnace that is Life (lived in, through and with the Holy Spirit). I only pray that whatever length of years I have left in this earthly life, I will with God’s grace become ever truer to Him, to me, and to each brother and sister I encounter.
“For the Mighty One has done great things for me,
Holy is His name!” – Lk 1:49