This Deep Spiritual Thought is from another Rev Trev. Happy to have him contribute.
I know this is a longer blog than most but it is what it is.
You may remember or have heard about a guy from years past who said the following: “I yam what I yam”. Yes, it was Popeye. Popeye the sailor man with the biggest forearms ever. That phrase seemed to represent a generation. Popeye was basically saying this is me, this is who I am, I am not going to change my opinion just because someone else wants me to, I am what I am, take me or leave me. Popeye to me seemed like a tough guy, after all he was a sailor. He told us: “he keeps to the finish because he eats his spinach”, because he is Popeye the Sailor man, “toot toot”. He was telling us if we did those things we too would be strong. That comic strip was from the 1930’s, so we know things have changed. But the advice is sound. Spinach is still a great choice for health, and be the you, you were meant to be, or “I yam what I yam”, so take me or leave me seems to be some sound advice.
Now, I am certainly not the Great I am, we know there is only one who is the Great I am.
God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘ I am has sent me to you.’”
Exodus 3:14 ESV
See Popeye wasn’t disrespecting God because we know God is the great I am, but that is the “who”. “I am who I am”. So if the I am sends you somewhere, you had better pay attention.
When we say I am what I am, or when we used to say it from Popeye’s instructions, we were saying this is what I am, I eat spinach, and I have something to say.
For me personally I would prefer to say something that the great I Am wants me to discuss, which is why I am writing today about: “it is what it is”.
Is that the new mantra and slogan of our day? It seems generations interpret societal rules a little differently. If you look back you can see the different generations and their societal norms from the builders generation or silent generation before 1945, the Baby Boomers between 1946 – 1964, the Gen X’ers between 1965 – 1976, the Millennials or Gen Y 1996 and later. They all had a voice, and the voice was just a little different.
One of my fears for today is that due to the fact that everybody has a voice, there is no such thing as an absolute voice anymore, it simply “is what it is” in this day. What about: It is what it is, but what could it be? Perhaps that would be a better slogan.
But “it is what It is”? What is the is? Is the is apathy? Disdain? Worry? Confusion? Sadness? Madness? I don’t know go ask your Dadness? What is the Is that everybody is referring to today?
I have been in various environments in this past year, whether it be in the sales offices, at church, on vacation, at work in prison, at play, and there seems to be a phrase commonality that is running rampant today and you know what the phrase is: “It is what it is” with a comma, or a period., a question mark?, or an emphatic exclamation mark! Do an experiment with those parts of speech with that phrase and see if you can notice the differences.
With the comma, It is what it is, but there can be a but after it. It is what it is, but this is how I see it.
With a period it seems to end that thought, Oh well, it is what it is.
That could be the end of that or it could be followed by another question such as: what can we do about it?
Another option could be with a question mark: It is what it is, is it? I am not really sure, but I will simply accept the “is what it is”, after all, “it is what it is”. We couldn’t dare to go against the “is what it is crowd”.
Then you can use it with the emphatic exclamation mark: It is what it is, and we can’t change it, so there! I am sure there are many other participles of speech that you could use, but we would be here all night and then that would definitely not be what it is, it would be something very different.
To me these questions are all in the apathetic or downright negative category. I
t is what it is, so I guess we could never change it, we will just accept it.
Why are you talking about it is what it is?
Rev Trev, are you trying to change the “it is what it is” movement?
Good luck with that.
Well, I do like to question the things of life. That is what seems to help me grow in my faith and in my journey, so perhaps the it is what it is but what could it be movement may have a better ring to my ears.
So, why just bring this up now? The “is what it is” movement has been around for quite some time?
I will tell you about the why now. Many of you may know that I have been serving as a prison chaplain for the past three months, and what I am learning is very eye opening. Some of the things we take for granted on the outside can’t be taken for granted on the inside.
Example: Trilbi and I are meeting some old friends (not old in age though, just so we get that right) from our college days and we are going to the Atlantic Kitchen which is a place that serves Jiggs Dinners, and other Newfoundland dishes. The inmates are served a tray of food shipped in from somewhere else and frozen. I know there are consequences for our actions, but I am simply trying to say that I really appreciate the opportunity to visit with some friends over some “Newfie” food. I have the freedom to make that choice, whether you like that choice “Newfie” food, or not.
Since I have been working at the prison it has given me different perspectives and appreciating things more is definitely one of them.
Since I have been in this ministry the phrase in question seems to take on a different meaning.
I was in a group last night with some inmates and we were sharing around in a circle. We were talking about change, and what things can be changed or what we can change, even though it is limited in that environment. One of the inmates was asked to share and simply said: “nothing changes in here, it is what it is.” Immediately I began thinking on that term and thought: yes, in here it seems it is more true than when someone says: “It is what it is”. Hmmmmmmmm.
Then after thinking about that for awhile and recalling all the people on the “outside” who have said: “it is what it is”, I started thinking about different questions. Does it have to be what it is? Or, can we re-create the Is?
My vote is to re-create the is. First define the is, so the is now will not be the is then. The is what it is could be changed to a different second is. Let’s change the what it is part, before it becomes what it was because we simply said: “it is what it is”. In that sense the is still becomes the is through passivity.
What if that proverbial “is” can be changed and become something different? Okay how can we change the what was, that once was the what is? Yeah, stay with me, it is simply by changing the is. Define this first is, and change that first is before it becomes the second is of: “it is what it is”.
What if we started to say: what could the first is be, that then creates the second is, that becomes the was?
No this is not a “who’s on first” blog? What? No it is not a what’s on second, or an I don’t know, third base. The is’s can be changed so it doesn’t become like that old Abbott and Costello’s Who’s on first.
I believe if we created our own skit in this day it would be like the “Who’s on First?”, and we could name it:“it is what it is”. It could go something like this:
You know, it is what it is.
The is, is what it is.
What do you mean? What is what?
No, it is not what, it is what it is.
What do you mean, is the is is, or is the is something else?
No, the is is what it is, so you can forget about the what, the what frames the is. It is what it is.
I really don’t know what it is now, or what is what. Is is is? Or what?
However, the good news in all these is’s is: It doesn’t have to be what it is.
We can re-create the is.
First define the is, so the is now won’t be the is what it is, if we don’t like the what is and what the is potentially might be.
Let’s change the what it is part before it becomes what it was and we simply say it is what it is.
What if that proverbial “is” can be changed and become something different.
Okay how can we change the what was that once was the what is?
By simply changing the is. Define the first is, and change that first is before it becomes the second is of: it is what it is.
What if we start saying what could the first is be?, so we can create the second is before it becomes the second is? Let’s change the is’s.
Next time you start to say in your mind: “it is what it is”, think this instead: I know what it is now, but what could it be? Then become a what could it be inventor in our world today. No longer accept the “it is what it is”, rather create the is into something different. It could turn out to be incredible, or mundane, but it is different. By trying this exercise we are changing, we are growing, we are becoming something different.
As a result of all of that, here is what it really is for me:
“I press on towards the goal, to win the prize that God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Phil. 3:14. That really is what it is.
Here is what it is for God:
“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
What is: “it is what it is” for you? Do you need to change it?
Press On…to the is that could be and not what it is!