I’ve been living with the phrase, “it is what it is” going through my mind. I suppose it’s because I’ve heard so many people say the phrase lately, and I’ve actually caught myself uttering it a couple of times. Why is that? Of course, it is what it is. Everything is what everything is. But, what exactly does “it” refer to, and why does everyone (including myself) feel the urge to note that “it is what it is?”
I don’t even know why I’m blogging about that phrase this morning. I suppose it’s because I made the statement to someone (I don’t remember who–they are who they are) the other day after they said, “it is what it is,” that I should write a blog about it. I woke up this morning with that phrase bouncing around my head, so I’m writing. It is what it is, right?
Naturally, I had to do a google search on the phrase. Wikipedia (the official source of ALL correct knowledge) simply says, “‘It is what it is’ is an idiomatic phrase, indicating the immutable nature of an object or circumstance’.” Not quite good enough for me. William Safire, writing is a 2006 New York Times article, calls it a “tautophrase,” and basically says it’s become a way of saying something without saying anything. I’m not sure if that qualifies as a definition, but it sure feels right to me. As Safire and others indicate, it is generally used to change the subject, or as an excuse when things go awry.
Every time I’ve heard someone say the phrase, I’ve noticed they said it with a bit of futility in their voice and a shrug in their shoulders. That’s pretty much the way I’ve said it, too. “Eh, it is what it is.” That’s just the way it is and there’s nothing you or I can do about it. Sort of like saying, “Deal with it,” or, “Get over it,” but in a much nicer way.
I suppose “it is what it is” is just one of those vogue phrases that takes hold in our language. I’m not really sure it has any meaning (much like today’s blog, but it is what it is), but is just another way we’ve discovered to keep from thinking about things we should be thinking about, especially when we use the phrase in the context of justifying our mistakes, our failures, or our sins. That’s what Britney Spears did when she was photographed with her son riding in her lap rather than a car seat–“I made a mistake, so it is what it is, I guess.”
Yup. My sin is what it is. There is a fair amount of futility in the inflection of my voice when I confess that my sin is what it is, and there is nothing I can do about it. Heaven forbid that I should use it to justify what I’ve done, and if I use it the way most people use it, I’ll simply change the subject and move on. And, that would be a shame because though there is nothing I can do about it, there is something God HAS done about it. Shrugging my shoulders and accepting that my sin is what it is causes me to close the door on the very thing that can change the situation or circumstance.
Certainly, my sin is what it is, but it doesn’t have to remain what it is. The blood of Jesus Christ can change this old sinner into a saint. His grace can take this broken old soul and transform it into a healed, restored vessel to be used for His glory. Popeye used to say, “I yam what I yam, and that’s all that I yam.” In Christ, I’m not what I was, but I’m also not all that I will be. The whole point of life in Christ is to be changed from what we are into what we will be. It is what it is, but…it’s not what it will be. There’s no futility in our life in Christ. Only hope. There’s no futility in grace. Only hope. There’s no futility in forgiveness. Only hope. There no futility in redemption. Only hope. There’s no futility in God’s love. Only hope.
There’s hope in Jesus. That brings me to the next thing that’s been rolling around in my mind all week–“Lord, I need you!” Every morning this week I’ve woke up with the chorus of that song repeating itself in my mind. As I consider that it is what it is, that song reminds me that it doesn’t have to stay that way. Maybe it can bring you a little hope this morning, too, but then again…it is what it is, right?
Until next time, keep looking up…