Turning thirty-five brings back memories from a birthday ten years ago. I’d looked forward to turning twenty-five ever since my first car accident when I wasn’t old enough for a rental. Who knew it would be eight years, a wedding, and two babies later before I could legally rent a car?
Plus, it just sounded like a great number. Twenty-five. It reeks of maturity and halfway to wisdom but it took another ten years before I learned it was just another year older.
But that year…I’d just delivered my second daughter, a whopping 9 lbs 10 oz. whale of a newborn the nurses declared couldn’t possibly be confused with any other baby. We settled in at home and visitors dropped by. My parents and siblings came from the next state north to meet the newest baby Wells, a pitch-black haired sweetie with the most adorable set of dimples you’ve ever seen.
My birthday crept closer but everyone was so enamored with another baby, no one mentioned my milestone day. In fact, the morning of was normal in every way possible with a newborn. Diaper changes. Feedings. Sleep (for her, not me). No surprise lunch or dinner. Not even a card or a “happy birthday.”
That evening, everyone called out their good nights as they made their way to the bedrooms. Stunned, I waited for a punch line, that the joke was on me and they’d outdone themselves with cake and gifts.
We often joke about that forgotten birthday, although it didn’t seem funny to me at the time. Since then, I’ve gained four more kids, gray hairs, and hopefully some wisdom.
Here are 10 things turning thirty-five taught me–
- Grow up. Stop reacting and start responding when you feel left out. A tougher skin and a tender heart make life easier and you smarter. 😉
- Laugh often. Don’t get so stressed that you forget to laugh. Make a point to laugh every day, whether it’s at yourself, your family, or a silly joke. Laughter is medicine and we could all use it to feel a little better. 😉
- Know who you are. Don’t let negative self-talk affect you. When you know who God is, you’ll learn who you are. When thoughts stray, capture them and refocus them. Filling our minds with doubt is a tactic the enemy uses to distract us. You are important, noticed, and appreciated.
- You are loved. Anytime I feel unloved, I turn to Jesus. He loves me and he loves you too! <3
- You are needed. The negative self-talk made me feel not needed. The opposite was true. My husband and those little girls of mine (and now four boys too!) needed a loving, confident, Jesus-seeking wife and mama.
- You make a difference. It’s easy to feel like an island when life gets crazy busy. Everyone is connected to someone in some way and it’s important to connect with others on a deeper level. People are watching and learning from our mistakes and examples. Make a difference in their lives.
- You choose your feelings and actions. Gone are the days when I let others dictate how I feel or act. I’m the only one responsible for my reactions or responses. May we always respond in love and grace with others.
- Life is short. In the last 10 years, we’ve seen both life and death. It’s taught me how short life is and not to waste it on foolish, hurt feelings. Make the most of your days.
- Be nice. People remember how you make them feel and it doesn’t cost much to be nice. It’s better to be nice than burying someone in meanness.
- Follow Jesus. Many times I’ve tried living on my own and it always ends badly. I’m a better person when I’m striving to be more like Christ. This means spending time reading my Bible, talking to him in prayer, and changing from the inside out.
Gaining Ground As We Age
I might not love these new gray hairs, but they’re a daily reminder to make the most of this life. Too often, I’ve been easily offended or hurt by someone else’s words. It’s not important. My husband used to remind me in our early years to let things roll off my back. He’d tell me to laugh about it. So we do.
You can too. My biggest takeaway from these 35 years is to live knowing this place on earth isn’t my home, it’s just a passing zone. But while we’re here, we can make a huge difference.
What have you learned from your own years on earth? I’d love to hear your words of wisdom!