This is 40.
In my teens I thought 40 years olds were great-great grandmas, you know like the silvery purple haired grandma’s who voices crack when they talk because they are as old as the hills. Then in my 20 year old head I thought someone who was 40 was more like just great grandma not great-great, which was only just a tad younger than the silvery haired ones, but not much improved. For most of my 30’s I never really thought about 40 because I was too busy having babies, taking care of babies, trying to figure out how to be wife and also trying to start a career. Good-bye 30’s, you were exhausting.
And now I am 40. I’ve called the entire year of 2016 my “year of 40” I even made my own hashtag #yearof40. It’s been a really great year and a really hard year. It’s been a year where I’ve seen more growth in myself than any other time in my life. It’s been a year where I’ve let go and held on. Where I’ve cried the most but also laughed the most.
Here are my top 3 for the #yearof40
- Best thing I did of 2016. Start seeing a counselor. Yep, it was hard. I was prideful, I was scared, I was totally freaked out because this was waay out of my comfort zone. I have always been the “I am never going to go talk to a stranger about my life” person. I am not exaggerating when I say my counselor (alongside God) changed the trajectory of my life this year. I was battling some harsh demons, some resentment, some bitterness, and deep hurts. Things that I kept trying to fix on my own and it was obvious it wasn’t working. Jeremy was maxed out, he was trying and we were trying together but I just couldn’t kick. It was a dark time and I was on a dark path then I broke and then I asked for help. Why? Why is it that we have to first break before we ask for help? Or maybe it’s only me that has to get to that point, but I seriously doubt it. Of course I had some rules about seeing a counselor (in true Raelenna fashion there are always rules, I like to keep stipulations). It had to be a Christian counselor, had to be female, I could not know her and it would not be someone local. Because of my job I know alot of people and I was majorly weirded out even go to a counselor so I wanted someone I knew that wouldn’t know me or know anyone I knew. It was absolutely terrifying and absolutely awesome. I know with all my heart that God spoke thru her to heal me and set me in a different direction, a direction He wanted me in. You want to know how I know? Because she said things to me and asked me questions that I had never said to anyone, things that were only in my head or on my heart. That is how you know. I went by myself and then Jeremy and I went together. I let her in, I let the walls down and it was the best thing of 2016 and one of the top things I’ve done for myself in my life. I’m hear to tell you, if you think you need to see a counselor then you probably do, don’t be scared. If you don’t think you need to see a counselor then you probably do as well. I have went full circle and became a complete advocate and want others to know counseling is not taboo. It does not mean you are weak, it can actually mean you’re strong enough to realize you want to be better than what you are. Strong enough to know that us by ourselves, is usually not enough. That there are people God equipped to be passionate and trained to counsel others. For me it was about not living in darkness, to let light in. And to let light in we must expose and share and be vulnerable. Satan is darkness. Jesus is light and light is hope.
- Africa. A month in Africa with my entire family. We had planned that trip almost a year in advance but only God knew the timing of that trip would be exactly when we needed it. I was coming off a hard few months of personal stuff and a hard few months of work. Jeremy was in the busiest season of his career then add in the kids stuff and all the end of school year craziness we were burnt out. No other way to put it, we were D.U.N (as my brother would say). Done. It felt like I couldn’t take another second of the pace of the life we were doing.
Literally not another second, I couldn’t get on that plane fast enough. Yes Africa was about orphaned babies, farm life, friends, experiencing a new culture and our family serving together. But it was more than that. It was a reset button. Time away to slow down to reflect and to see our “real” life from the outside. And boy did we see it. I recently read about the magic of being away from home. Shauna Neiquist writes “away allows us to see the rhythms and dimensions of our lives more clearly” Amen. Amen. Jeremy and I spent alot of time talking, processing and praying about life when we got back to America. The changes we were going to make and ways to stick to them. Slowing our roll. God. Family. Then everything else. Saying no and yes to the right things.
- Submitting to my husband. Haha! I know, but keep reading ladies. If you know me personally you know I am independent, strong-minded and strong-willed. My liberal women can rule the world brain really doesn’t want to call it “submitting to my husband” I prefer “letting Jeremy lead”. Which is still a bit of an ego blow. But I am so over it and I am truly enjoying the freedom it brings to let Jeremy lead. I’ve always prided myself on my decision making abilities. Those shoes, yes done. This haircut, yes done. That employee, yes done. That house, yes done. That car, yes done. That. This. That. This. Back in my single mom days, my mad decision making skills were exactly what I needed. But now married to a Godly and a very capable man, it’s a no no. I have been so wrong and very mistaken in thinking I was the one that was best at making decisions for our family. I am not saying I am still not part of the decisions, I am just not the bearer of them. I have a high geared job and I am the mommy of 5, I already have a ton happening I don’t want or need this giant responsibility of decisions on my plate anymore. And it’s not God’s way. Can I give you one word that describes the freedom I’ve experienced in handing things over to Jeremy: released. I truly feel released from a big big burden I was unnecessarily carrying. I was exhausted with too many decision to make. All. The. Time. Decisions and more decisions. Some decisions I never even told him, not because I was trying to hide them, but just because I thought I can do it. From as big as should we hire another employee to as small as what team should our son play on for baseball.
Now in this new life, we talk about it, think on it, on good days pray about it together and then I say whatever you feel is best, you decide. Don’t get me wrong it’s still a work in progress, but for the most part, I am D.U.N with this also, I am handing over the lead. And it feels good, and right and exactly how God intends in. Not in a submissive Jeremy rules over me way. It’s more of a leader, I trust you with my life and my kids life way. I trust that you are a man who will go to God with it in prayer and that you want best for me probably more than I want best for me. That you know me as well as I know me and you can see me in a different way. I say to him more than ever “what do you think”. Ladies do you ask your man “what do you think” on something you are pondering? Do it. Our men want to be part of it. They are wired and geared and made to lead. I am seeing this now. Let them lead, take the burden off yourself, it’s actually liberating. Don’t believe lies that say strong women must be in charge, strong women must know when enough is enough. Try babies steps if you have to, a decision here and there. I think you’ll be surprised that you like it. And a total bonus, when you see your man in that take charge and lead role where you’ve given them your full heart, it makes him hotter.
So there they are my big take-aways from my year so far. Let me add in–wow this is so out of my comfort zone writing this and sharing this post. When I say way, I mean way-way. If you could hear my brain while I am typing this it’s saying “I can’t believe you are putting this out there for anyone to read especially the counseling stuff”. What my heart is saying is different, it’s telling me to share, to be open and honest, there is nothing to hide, maybe it will encourage or help just one person.
So back to turning 40. For the last few years as I’ve talked with my older friends and mentors (not old old ya know like the silvery purple old, just older) they’ve been telling me 40 is awesome, 40 is so fun, you’re gonna love 40, 40 is the new 20, 40 is freedom. Today here I am on my birthday and again in true Raelenna fashion I also set goals for myself for the second half of my life. I really feel like this is the direction I am headed and clearly in the direction God wants me. To live with purpose, passion and intention. Those 3 words have me eager and ready for whats next. Purpose. Passion. Intention. Maybe more on this later…
For now on my 40th birthday I am celebrating at the beach a place where my soul and spirit always gets refreshed.
This is 40. I’m not hung up on it I am welcoming it.
P.S. In reference to #2. I know that some of you ladies out there reading this may not have a husband that is a Godly man that you can trust handing over leadership of yourself or your family. Or you may be in a really bad marriage working through really hard times and now is not the time. Trust me when I say I understand. My heart aches for those of you experiencing this but I want you to know your not alone. God is still seeing you and desiring you, don’t give up.