Why I Don’t Mind Turning 40

Some people are terribly afraid of ageing. In my early twenties I travelled with a group of girls who were petrified of the big two-five. ‘I really struggled with turning twenty,’ one of them confided. ‘I don’t know how I’ll cope with being twenty-five.’ 

I was in my thirties at the time. 

It baffled me that a group of girls could be genuinely terrified of ageing. Personally, I was looking forward to it. I couldn’t wait to get laughter lines. I wanted everyone to see I had spent my life laughing. There’s no shame or fear in that. 

I wanted everyone to see I had spent my life laughing.

Needless to say, I do not hang out with those girls anymore.

Now that I have hit the big four-oh, I feel things starting to shift. My childless grief is surfacing. For some reason, hitting forty feels like the end of a chapter. Fortunately, I have already begun writing the next chapter. 

I also feel grief around my chronic illness. This is not how I wanted to be in my forties. I did not want to feel limited by pain in my forties. I did not want my days dictated by fatigue. I did not want to feel like an eighty-year-old in a forty-year-old body. Yet here we are. 

Despite these things, I recognise the privilege of ageing. That’s right, ageing is a privilege. Not many people get the opportunity to age. Many lives are snuffed out before they reach forty. When you consider how many young lives are lost through accident or suicide, let alone how many babies are lost before they even see the light of day, you realise this truth. 

Ageing is a privilege, not an enemy. 

Ageing is a privilege, not an enemy.

I am looking forward to laughter lines. It’s countercultural but true. I am looking forward to salt-and-pepper hair. I am looking forward to blaming all my forgetfulness on my age. I am looking forward to the wisdom that comes from many years of living and surviving and realising I am still not dead. 

I am looking forward to liberation from other people’s opinions. I am looking forward to an unburdened state of mind. I am looking forward to retirement. Very much so. 

In C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters, the devil Screwtape writes to his nephew Wormwood, ‘We are allowed to work only on a selected minority of the race, for what humans call a “normal life” is the exception. Apparently He wants some–but only a very few–of the human animals with which He is populating Heaven to have had the experience of resisting us through an earthly life of sixty or seventy years. Well, there is our opportunity.[i]

I have been given a gift from God: time on this planet.

I have been given a compliment, a gift from God: time on this planet to follow and obey him and resist every kind of temptation. Precious few are afforded the same grace and years. I hope and pray I will make wise use of the time.

Why don’t I mind turning forty? Because ageing is a privilege. 

How do you feel about ageing and growing old? Where do you see God at work in your time on this earth? How can you live for God your whole life long, whether that be another four years, forty years or a hundred years? Share your story. Let’s have a countercultural conversation. 


[i] Lewis, CS 1942, The Screwtape Letters, HarperCollins, London, United Kingdom.

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