Life begins at 40

By Jennifer Davis Rash
Managing Editor, The Alabama Baptist

Just call me Grandma. Yeah, it shocked me too when a woman on the elevator asked me if my 3-year-old niece, Belle, was my granddaughter. And then a few days later, a nurse working with Belle asked me the same thing.

Granted, I know some really classy, sassy and spunky grandmothers in their late 30s and early 40s, but I’m not one of them.

And what timing! Here I am a mere 12 days until exiting my 30s and stepping forth as a 40-year-old. Gulp. Am I ready for this? And do I really look like a grandma? OK, don’t answer that.

Still, changing decades provides a great opportunity to reflect on past years, evaluate where you are now and set new goals for what’s ahead.

Since turning 39 last May, I’ve spent way too much time thinking about life as a 40-year-old, and to be honest, I haven’t figured it all out yet. It seems to be a turning point in some way. Maybe because it falls somewhat as the midpoint of the unassisted living years. Maybe because we are expected to know who we are and have life figured out by the time we are 40. Or maybe because we’ve had enough life experiences at 40 that we should be imparting some wisdom rather than still seeking it.

I’ve been blessed to have a multitude of mentors in my life, and the lessons they’ve taught (and still teach) me continually surface as I reflect, evaluate and go forward. The combination of their wisdom, experience and love has carried me a long way.

The late Eleanor Terry (first wife of Bob Terry, president and editor of The Alabama Baptist) was one of those mentors. She was an amazing woman and accomplished as much later in life as she did early in life. One of her favorite phrases was “Life begins at 40.”

And while so many of my thoughts center around what I haven’t done yet, how little I know, how much farther I have to go spiritually, etc., I’ve decided to take Eleanor’s advice and embrace 40 as an opportunity to start fresh, to launch the next 40 years of life with the experience and lessons from the last 40 years.

As I say goodbye to my 30s and count down the days to my new decade, I’d like to hear from those of you who are moving into (or already have moved into) a new decade. E-mail your words of wisdom to

I’ll be sharing some of these over the next few months. As a way to start us off, I asked a few friends to share in this column.

My dear friend and college roommate Vickie Osborn beat me to 40 by a few months. Vickie is a member of Mountain View Baptist Church, Phil Campbell. She says, “There are two things we all should do when we reach the big 4-0. First take a moment to reflect on past experiences. We should look back and be thankful for the blessings as well as adversities that have shaped us into who we are today.

“Second and most important, we should embrace the opportunities in our future by striving daily to become more godly.”

Steve Woods, a good friend from NorthPark Baptist Church, Trussville, turned 50 this month. We serve on a ministry team together, and he thinks my column should be called “irRashional Thoughts.” Steve says, “Through all our decades, life can be hard. … We need God, family and friends to be there with us along the way.

“My advice going forward: 1. Know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. 2. Keep a good relationship with family. 3. Keep your body in decent shape. 4. Try to be happy,” he says. “Complain as little as possible, and find something positive in all that you do.”

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