This is the third week of Advent. Each week, four leading up to Christmas, we pause in remembrance of the birth of our Savior. In some households a candle will be lit in recognition of each of the Advent themes. This week we light the candle of PEACE.
“It is what it is”. I am not sure exactly when I heard this phrase for the first time. I do not recall what it was in reference to, but it made me feel uncomfortable. Since then, I have heard these words uttered countless times and each time it made my heart ache. I had only heard “It is what it is” in negative contexts I suppose. It was often spoken with a breathy sigh, a resignation of a plight, or a settling/acceptance of a bad thing.
I get it. I know there are times in life when there is just nothing anyone can do, and as one of my friends once said, “Sometimes you just have to put your big kid pants on and deal with it.” Still, it just does not feel right to proclaim a situation as beyond change, even if it is true.
I was not a fan of “it is what it is”, which is why I found it odd, that when considering the topic of “PEACE” for our advent devotion, I could not get this phrase out of my head. I had written it down as a passing thought in my notes last week. It was even scribbled in the margin of a shopping list I made a few days ago. The words kept bouncing around in my head like that ping pong ball in the old Atari games. At first, I thought of it as a good example of resignation/hopelessness. I thought it would be a good intro into the topic of “HOPE”, but that advent theme has already passed. I had been asking God for something to share about “PEACE”. I was sort of hoping for a scripture to roll into my life and present itself, not a negative tinged “It is what it is.” What could THAT have to do with PEACE, God’s PEACE?
I looked the phrase up on line, seeking to find its intended meaning. Of course there were many ways it can be utilized, but for the most part, it has come to mean the following concerning situations:
Inevitable, unchangeable, unstoppable, out of one’s control, and my favorite, “C’ est la vie” (such is life)
Suddenly the phrase that was at once zinging around in my head in negative connotation, came to a complete stop and stood glaring out at me as if in neon lettering. “It is what it is.” is not always about settling for less of a thing, or accepting a negative situation… it is a confidence that when something is not in your control, you will still be okay. It is a knowing that while something is unchangeable, you are capable of moving forward. We may not control our circumstances, but we control how we respond in our hearts.
At Christmas we are especially mindful of the year round truth that is this:
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
This is God’s PEACE…in Him we do not strive for perfection, nor do we sit condemned from our sin. In Him we find grace, unearned favor, forgiveness and life. God’s PEACE is being settled in the midst of unsettling times. We face unchangeable things, unstoppable events and we may not have control, but our God is UNCHANGEABLE, UNSTOPPABLE and always in CONTROL.
“It is what it is” once caused me to envision someone throwing their hands up in defeat…now, when I think of this phrase, instead I envision someone dropping their burden, tossing their hands in the air and falling back into His capable arms.
“For a Child will be born to us, a Son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah9:16)