How to Embrace Turning 40 (or Any Age)

It’s my birthday today.

I’m officially 40 years old.

At one time, this age felt SO OLD. I mean, heck. When you graduate from high school, you haven’t even lived half of 40 years yet!

But today, as I embrace this age, it doesn’t feel old. I don’t feel any different than I did yesterday. I simply feel like me. Happy for another day of life!

Looking back on past birthdays

Throughout my life, I don’t recall expecting a massive, over-the-top celebration for my birthday. The day itself—March 29th—has always felt special. It’s MY day. I appreciate every card, every gift, every birthday wish from anyone who’s ever taken the time to make me smile.

Growing up in Michigan, my yearly hope was that it didn’t snow on my bday. Not only was it possible, occasionally it did. So you can bet I was extra happy any year the weather cooperated for me.

Celebration-wise, my family was big on extended family birthday parties. I went through a phase when I wouldn’t open any presents till around the time of day I was born (about 6pm… right Mom?)—because I wasn’t technically a year older till then. Thankfully, I grew out of that!

In elementary school, back when homemade foods weren’t restricted, my mom baked me bunny-shaped sugar cookies with pink icing to share with my classmates. Bunnies because Easter falls soon after my birthday—so it was tradition. Plus, my mom made the BEST sugar cookies AND icing from scratch.

When I was older, I invited a few friends to my house for birthday sleepovers. Pizza, cake, movies. The usual.

Back then, getting older felt exciting. It was all about the milestones. Double digits. Becoming a teenager. Getting that coveted driver’s license. Finally graduating from high school at 18.

When the 20s hit, my birthdays became more low key, and I did not mind that one bit. Eating out and seeing a movie. Maybe a cake. Maybe not. More experiences; fewer presents. Even as I crept ever closer to 30, I never felt overly anxious about it. At some point between 20 and 30, I realized that age was more about how I felt than the number itself.

When I was single in my 30s, my birthdays were really all over the place. I celebrated my 35th birthday alone—with a free Smoothie King smoothie, dinner from the Whole Foods bar, and a walk on the beach. (I lived in Florida then.)

Then, the very next year, I took a solo birthday trip to Australia and New Zealand and started my 36th birthday off with a sunrise on a beach near Sydney.

Woman watching sunrise on a beach
Me in Australia on my 36th birthday

I had no way of knowing at the time, but that Australian birthday was my last one single. Less than a year later, God asked me to move to Tennessee, where I met John—who is now my husband—and I’m thankful to have spent every birthday since then with him.

How special should a birthday feel?

First, let me say, if you go all out on your birthday every year—I think that’s fantastic! We each have our preferences, and they might even change over the years.

I’ll be honest. After my birthday in Australia, I was sold on a solo birthday trip every year after that… but God’s plan to make me NOT single the very next year was far better!

My mid- to late-30s taught me that every day is a gift. Every single day.

In 2016, I recovered from an eating disorder that lasted over ten years of my life. Ten years of feeling like I wasn’t living. Not living is an awful way to live, let me tell you.

After recovery, one of my top priorities was learning how to live again. So, birthdays are special to me because they celebrate being alive!

More importantly, though, they’re special because God chose a unique date and time for me to enter this world—just like He did for you.

In my entire life, I only recall one birthday being not so happy because I had to work 11 hours and felt stressed the whole day. (In college, I did hit a deer on my birthday, but it was at the VERY end of a really good day, so I won’t count that one.)

Of course, special or not, no one is promised a perfect birthday. Just like no one is promised tomorrow. Aging is living, and that makes it easier for me to embrace turning 40… and every age for the rest of my life.

Does turning 40 (or any new age) give you anxiety? Do you dread it?

If your answer is yes, I challenge you to shift your mindset. If I haven’t convinced you yet, consider…

Four reasons to embrace getting older

1. Age is just a number

No doubt, you’ve heard that one before. But hear me out.

Just like how much you weigh or what size you wear, a number will never define you. It’s not your identity.

And heck, what is an age supposed to feel like, anyway? It’s all relative. It can vary by person. There’s no rulebook to follow.

So, don’t dwell on how an age is supposed to make you feel or act. Focus on living the life you were meant to live in this moment.

2. Age can bring more wisdom

With age comes experience. Your own and what you observe in other people’s lives.

The older you get, the greater opportunity you have to apply what you learned. What to do and what not to do.

3. Age reveals what matters (and what doesn’t)

I don’t know about you, but the older I get, the less I care about the opinions of others.

I embrace who I am—who God made me—without trying to be who people think I am or want me to be.

I know what I value and what doesn’t deserve my time.

I have a better idea of what to let go of and when to let it go.

I am more content with less.

Age brings freedom!

4. Age makes me more grateful

When I was young, life felt guaranteed. I never questioned that I’d wake up every day with breath in my lungs, all my senses intact, able to walk and talk and live.

Now, I take fewer days for granted. I know each day is a gift, the good days and the bad. Birthdays and ordinary days.

And, not only am I grateful for life, but I’m more intentionally grateful for the people and things IN my life. I’m learning to choose gratitude vs. living as if I deserve a good life.

Closer to God

In my life, getting older has brought me closer to God. And I don’t mean literally, as in closer to dying.

The story of my life thus far has made it clear that my life will be a mess if God is not #1.

It goes back to having more wisdom, knowing what’s important, and what I’m grateful for. It goes back to God.

If getting older equals me wanting to spend more time with God, bring on all the birthdays!

As I celebrate this one—my 40th—I know I’m a child of God. I know He gave me life. All 40 years of it.

Today, I’m alive. And that is a gift!

2 thoughts on “How to Embrace Turning 40 (or Any Age)

  1. Jamie Kline

    Gitl, beautifully and wonderfully said! What a perfect way to indorce and celebrate once. Special day. And, to recognize the One who knew us before we were?! 💗


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