Today I’m precisely 40 days away from my 40th birthday.

I love it.

For decades I’ve listened to people mourn the coming (and passing) of their 40th. Now that it’s upon me, I find all that strange. To be 40 sounds wonderful to me. I’m excited. Looking forward to it, actually.

In the past year I’ve experienced a couple of those “life flashing before my eyes” scenarios. I’ve had more than a handful of sobering moments, and I’ve been changed because of them. Probably the biggest change is simply this:

Each day my eyes open to the sun and the faces of my family is a gift.

I don’t dread getting older. I dread the thought of not getting older. Another birthday is a celebration, a collection of 365 more days of memories, with the possibility of another 365 to come.

So, yes, I’m turning 40 in 40 days. July 31st to be exact. I sent out a ping on Facebook and Twitter this afternoon asking for advice on how I should celebrate this milestone. I loved the suggestions that came in, everything from fasting (What? No cake?) to taking a cruise (Yeah, baby!). 

But one stood above all the others.

40 days of giving.

For 40 days, I’m going to give a gift to someone, a kind gesture, a smile, a token, a word. Doesn’t matter so much what it is or who it is. I want to make it a priority to do it. Every day. For 40 days.

Actually, I’d like to do it much longer than that.

My hope is that 40 days of discipline will become years of life practice. Generosity isn’t supposed to be a hobby. It’s a way of life. And when it comes to the next 40 years of my life, I’d love for it to be defined in part by a generous heart.

The irony is, this seems to be a theme over the past month.

  • On May 12, a stranger bought me a bottle of water in the middle of an airport.
  • On May 23, a woman and her husband cheered for me as I jogged up a hill on an ordinary day.
  • On June 17, just last week, the driver in front of me in a Starbucks drive through paid for my Chai Tea Latte. And she didn’t even stick around to take the credit.

I’ve been the receiver of uncommon graces lately. I want to be a giver of it. But beyond that, I have a deeper motive. I believe the reality of God is most present, most visible when we’re giving ourselves away. And although I like the feel-good feeling that comes when I do something for someone else, more than anything I want to experience the very real and active presence of God in a way that changes every inhale and exhale.

That’s what I’m hoping for over the next 40 days. I’ll be blogging, sharing my experiences, trying to post Monday through Friday.

Want to join me? You don’t need a birthday to have a good reason to open your eyes to heaven and earth.

See you tomorrow. Here’s praying that you and I both wake up ready to give ourselves away.


 

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