Finding Healing

Why I Loved Turning 40

Me Ra Koh

I was nervous about turning 40.  That anxiety was turning into heaviness.

When I told my girlfriend, she said something I’ll never forget.

Since she’s a pastor she started with biblical symbolism.  She reminded me of how monumental the number forty is in the Bible.  Forty is symbolic of testing.  The Israelite’s wandered for forty years. The Genesis flood lasted for forty days and nights.  Moses fasted for forty days and nights when listening to God for the Ten Commandments.  Jesus was tempted for forty days.  I had never put all these pieces together.

I know what it’s like to be tested.

My heart knows intimately well what it means to wander the desert.  Throughout my healing journey, there have been many times when I felt like I was drowning in a flood of pain.  I’ve battled temptations of fear and doubt that want me to throw in the towel and just give up. And I’m still going.  Not only am I still going, I’m stronger for it.

Turning 40 is a rights of passage. I was ready to say goodbye to the testing!

The idea of holding my shoulders back and standing tall with confidence felt amazing!  Of course there is always more room to grow.  But I’ve also come through a lot.  And so have you.

Every decade has taught me a different lesson.

In my 20s, I was trying to find myself, heal my pain, and get my voice back.  My 30s were all about training and mastering the gifts and skills I’ve been given.

I was barely 30 years old when I picked up a camera for the first time.  My first book took me a decade to write.  I wrote four more books in my 30s!  Brian and I started dream building on bigger and bigger levels.  My heart pressed in to the creative process even more. The mama bear in me finally got sick of being battered every day by guilt.  I faced guilt and WON!  And I learned about the side of success that no one likes to talk about. 

My 40s is the decade I step up to the platform with confidence and fill my space.  My risk taking seems huge to outsiders looking in, but it’s nothing compared to the healing journey I’ve endured.  I no longer make apology for who I am.  My dreams are built with strength and focus.  I travel the world more than ever.  My marriage is stronger than ever.  Blaze and Pascaline, my teenagers, are solid and dream builders in the making.  I run to all these things with confidence because this isn’t my first time around the block.  Voices of fear and doubt are not new.  Embracing my pain is my greatest strength.  I’m an over comer.  I am present.

With this pattern, I can’t wait to see what my 50s will bring!  But one day at a time.

My Mantra for Turning 40

This last week I turned 45 years old.
On the morning of my birthday, I sat down and wrote this mantra.
I hope it encourages you.

Society tells us lots of things about getting older. Here is my truth.

My forty years of wandering in the desert are over!
I know who I am, and i know why I’m here.
I’ve endured more hardship and loss than I can share.
But I’m not bitter. I’m more expectant than ever!
My years of tears have been transformed into years of laughter.
I feel more childlike than ever, yet I’m also a warrior.
When the battle cry goes out, i stand ready to fight.
I’m no stranger to the enemy.
I was born on the battlefield where dreams, hope and faith fight to survive.
This is my home, and i don’t plan to give it up without a fight.
I stand in the gap for others to win.
My battle scars are my evidence of unwavering creative courage!
Confidence is my sword.
Truth is my shield.
Creativity is my strength.
The Waiting Room Of God, that i have spent endless years in, has transformed.
It has become a vast cellar deep within me.
Filled with large barrels of vintage wines.
Every prayer gone unanswered,
Each loss I’ve endured,
Has created rich, potent wines that are ready to serve when needed.
Fit for a King.
My days of pain are not in vain.
My childlike dreamer is fierce.
I choose to embrace the messy, playfulness, unknown of creativity.
Running to the next 45 years with high expectations.
No longer living in shame but have removed all the veils.
When I look at you, i look with all my heart.
And I let you look inside me.
My children know God’s voice.
They are kind and bold dreamers.
My husband is a man of valor and endless humor.
Fear and doubt wave to me on the horizon.
But they are not creative or new.
They are predictable and bored.
I take my eyes off those two and focus on today, here and now, not looking to the right or left.
I claim the promise.
Strength! Courage!
God, my God, is with me every step i take.
Today, this year, and all to come…i am thankful.

(first appeared on my instagram @merakoh)

Thank you to my beautiful family, friends who have always believed in me. Thank you to my dear friend Amie Dockery for enlightening me with the symbolism of forty in scripture and the wine metaphor.

To Our Wonderful Readers

Society is always wanting us to be fearful.  Turning 40 is a powerful monument in your life.  Go with confidence!  You’ve earned it!
p.s. If you’re unable to comment here, come join the conversation on our private CONFIDENCE Facebook group!    We’ve created a wonderful, nurturing community that is all about empowering you with confidence in your photography, travel, creativity and family.  Brian and I check in every day.  We’d love to meet you!



  1. Last year I turned 50. So far, so amazing, really.

    Welcome to 45, friend. xo