A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

Posts Tagged ‘turning 40

(I)n your book were written, every one of them,

the days that were formed for me,

when as yet there was none of them.

–  Psalm 139:16

There’s no getting around it: I am literally counting down the days until I turn 40. I’m not sure whether I’m more challenged by the fact that I’m entering my 40s or by the fact that I have a 13-year-old son (and everything that goes with having a teenager).

But I wanted to put a positive spin on turning 40. Inspired by a video I saw at a CWL meeting that showed someone doing 21 good deeds to celebrate their 21st birthday, I’m setting 40 goals (yes, 40) for this year. Being a list maker, I’ve organized them into four different kinds of goals:

  • Things that scare me: For example, letting go of things that are holding me back, like all those mementoes just taking up space in my cedar chest and closet. I want to move forward when God asks me to rather than let my baggage and fears keep me marching in place.
  • Things that let me be creative: For example, transcribing one of the songs I’ve written instead of keeping the music in my head. I want to use and not waste the gifts God has given me.
  • Things that would be good for my physical, mental or spiritual health: For example, exercising regularly. I want to have the energy to do the things God asks me to do.
  • Things that would strengthen my relationships: For example, making family time (like movie night, board game time or taekwon-do classes) a priority. I want to have good relationships with the people God has brought into my life.

I’ve already gotten started on my list to encourage myself because I was struggling with turning 40. But having lost a friend to cancer five years ago, I remind myself that every birthday you celebrate is precious, and every day is a gift. A chance to change for the better, to use your talents, to care for others, and to do some good in this world.

And I take comfort in the assurance that God knows what lies ahead for me and knew even before I was born, as Psalm 139, one of my favourite psalms, tells me. And that, as Jeremiah 29:11 says, God has a plan for my life: “For I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

If you’re also celebrating a milestone birthday this year and wondering what lies ahead, then I pray you would be reassured by these verses and encouraged to move forward with new goals for your life. (See my May 23rd post, “Pressing On,” for suggestions if you need them.)

(*Quotes from the Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition.)

(B)ut one thing I do, forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:13-14, Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition 

When I was still a student—and, being a list-maker and planner, again and again through the years—I set certain goals that I hoped to achieve by the age of 25, 30 or 40. Plans for my career, my poetry, even my fitness level. I focussed on the destination; the journey was something to endure rather than enjoy.

Now the big 4-0 is just a few months away (note the way I say “the big 4-0” the way some people spell out “v-e-t” so their pets don’t panic), I’ve been thinking about my successes and setbacks and definitely brooding a bit over the targets I missed. Something milestone birthdays tend to bring out in me. While thinking about new goals for the future, I’ve realized there are two important questions I haven’t always considered: What goals does God want me to pursue, and how does he want me to pursue them?

The scriptures tell us that God’s thoughts and ways are higher than ours (see Isaiah 55:8-9) and that we are to love one another (see Mark 12:29-31), seek justice and mercy (see Micah 6:8), and keep the faith (see 2 Timothy 4:7). Since we’re only human, our instincts won’t always set us on the right path; we need God to guide us and keep us there. And we need to pursue our goals in ways that are loving and respectful of others.

Knowing this, how do we then identify a goal worth pursuing? Here are a few suggestions from a lifelong list-maker and avid reader:

  • Make a list. Take inventory of our strengths, interests, achievements and experiences. I recommend something like the Listography Journal. The trip down memory lane is a nice bonus.
  • Read a book by someone who’s been there. Get advice on identifying changes to make and benefit from someone else’s experience. My suggestions: The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, Life Makeovers by Cheryl Richardson and (especially for youth) Do Hard Things by Alex and Brett Harris.
  • Hit the books. Attend a workshop on identifying and using spiritual gifts or take an interest course through a school board, college or university, or public library. I took an interest course on blogging at Algonquin College before starting this blog.
  • Talk about it. Find a sounding board in a family member or trusted friend, spiritual director, or parish priest. My husband and a good friend I call Mom listen to my ideas, ask good questions and encourage me.
  • Pray to receive guidance and strength through the Holy Spirit. It’s easy to underestimate our ability to take on a challenge as well as the power of the Holy Spirit to enable us to achieve a goal. But the book of Acts is a wonderful example of how the Spirit equips people to do great things for God.

Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

Please enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by e-mail.

Follow Me on Pinterest

Recent Posts


8 Kids And A Business

Balancing a large family with a small business, all by God's mercy, grace and providence

roses near running waters

Just a Catholic wife & mama living a life full of wonder

The WordPress.com Blog

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.