A friend of mine, wise and astute beyond his years (so he tells me), has shared his newly discovered motto with me: “it is what it is.” Ok, so I’ve thought that a few times before, but it is one of those simple statements that forces us back to reality at times when we may feel overcome by our circumstances and disappointments of life. When things aren’t exactly as you would desire them, you can become focused on reality by telling yourself, “it is what it is.”
Circumstances are what they are. There are some things we can change, and some things we can’t (we’re getting more profound as we go). Our problem is that we often expend more worry and energy on the things we can’t change; and this, in turn, can become a stumbling block to our spiritual growth and joy. “And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?” (Matt. 6:27)
Paul’s own circumstances were often less than ideal, and beyond his control, yet his attitude remained stable: “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstance I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:11-13). If I may venture a loose paraphrase: It is what it is, I have learned to deal with “it” through God’s help.
“Moses My servant is dead.” So spoke the Lord to Joshua (Josh. 1:2). Joshua knew this already; they had been mourning for days. But sometimes we need a reminder of the simple truth about reality. Essentially, God was telling Joshua, “Moses is gone, and you can’t change that now or have him back. Now it’s time to get up and go take the land of promise.” In other words, “It is what it is, and you have to work with ‘it’ the way it is.”
The only other option is not to accept reality. People do sometimes go through phases of “denial.” They do not feel mentally able to accept what “is.” It hurts too much perhaps. But if we will ever “arise and cross the Jordan” in our lives, we must learn to accept the facts and circumstances of life. It takes courage. It takes resolve. But it must be done.
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6-7). God gives us the tools to be able to deal with all of our circumstances, including the painful ones. He wants us to cast our cares on Him, pray about them, and then let Him grant us peace in our hearts.
The solution to problems is not denial. We should learn to admit reality, then work with it as it is. When there are matters we can change for the better, let’s work to change them. When the circumstances don’t meet our concept of ideal, and we can’t change them, let’s learn to accept them and resolve to move forward with the strength God supplies.
In all matters, we must “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matt. 6:33). Because, as another one of my favorite “profound” questions reminds us, a hundred years from now, what will “it” matter? We worry about things that will pass away into oblivion, and sometimes ignore those matters that have eternal consequences.
A hundred years from now, it won’t matter that my car has a few scratches, or my water heater went out. What will matter is whether or not I’ve devoted myself to God and His will.
It is what it is. Thanks, Chris, for that reminder.