My really good friend Karen says that to me a lot. “It is what it is.” At first, it seemed to me to be a cop out. I felt she used it as a way to not deal with something that needed to change. That can indeed be the case at times, but a lot of the time she was right. “It is what it is” can remind me to accept the things I cannot change. Anything else is wasted energy.
Generally speaking, I’m a “can do,” “cup half full” kind of person. I am tenacious and rarely give up on anything I have started or committed myself to. I like a challenge. So to me, “it is what it is” got under my skin… at first.
Then I began to face some of the things in my life that either would not or could not change. Physical aging is one easy example. I am a baby boomer. I find my once seemingly “invincible” athletic body succumbing to injuries, hormonal changes and general gravitational pull as it hurts, expands and sags in all the places it never did before.
When I began to contemplate acceptance, I began to see more clearly the truth of the fact that the only things I can actually change are those things directly within my personal control and responsibility. On an average American day I do have control over what I eat, where I go and when, what I say and to whom, as well as how I do and say, what I say and do.
Beyond that, I have no control over the weather. I have no control over other people or the traffic I may find myself stuck in. Those things, and SO MANY more, fall to the category of acceptance.
“It is what it is” has become a way for me to let go of those things and people I was never intended to try to change. It does not usually mean I give up and walk away. Though it does remind me to mentally and emotionally take a step back. Breathe. Ask Abba what He sees, and what He wants me to see. Then I can ask God’s advice about how He wants me to proceed and for the courage to follow through.
Now, most of the time when I say to myself “it is what it is,” I am accepting that “it” is not actually my responsibility. And I am accepting responsibility for what I can change…me.
Acceptance is not always a cop out. More often than I care to admit, it is wisdom. Acceptance allows me to be in sync with God. I stop fighting unchanging circumstances and people, who at first look, seem to be obstacles in my path. Instead, I begin to look for what God is doing. I look to step into the flow if His Spirit.
I ask Him to give me His love for those who are “not cooperating” with my concept of progress. Funny isn’t it, how those very people are the ones God has sent to help make me more like Jesus… and to love them as He does.
For my aging body, I can accept that gravity will do its thing. Yet, I can rest and feed it nutritious things to keep the process from careening me to a premature demise. I can also choose to stay young at heart. Like a great bumper sticker I once saw: Growing old is mandatory, growing up is optional.
I invite you to join me in the full version of this great prayer.
The Serenity Prayer
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.
Will you join me is asking Abba for wisdom? Abba, What do you want me to accept today? What do you want to give me the courage to change today?