Thursday, August 19, 2010

IT IS WHAT IT IS - Eleanor Shepherd

“It is what it is.” Perhaps it is a reflection of my age and my frustration with trying to change things that I cannot change, but I find that this phrase has become my mantra as I try to come to terms with my life and the way that things never seem to work out the way I anticipate they will.

I entered into ministry with enthusiasm and determination to change my denomination and to make it relevant and dynamic and appealing to my generation. I retired and found that despite all my efforts the next generation realized that they needed to really transform that denomination if it was going to be relevant and dynamic and appealing to their peers. Did I really make a difference? Time alone will tell, but I do know that whatever I and my generation created is not static but dynamic. It is what it is; it is not what it was yesterday and not what it will be tomorrow.

I became a parent determined to get it right. I would listen to my children and encourage them to develop into creative adults with confidence in their skills and abilities and they would be so convinced about the way I did things that they would become my clones. Oh foolish woman! They have become creative adults and do have some confidence in their skills and abilities but not because of the things they learned from me. They are unique individuals and their choices are their choices. I think they are my clones, when they do some things that are brilliant and that cause me to puff up with pride. In truth they are more like me in other areas of their lives, where as in mine, the jury is still out. It is not up to me to determine or even pretend to know their destiny. It is what it is and I can choose to accept that or reject it.

As I glided up the aisle of the church while the organ swelled with the majestic tones of the wedding march, I was determined to be the best wife I could possibly be. I had no idea how difficult that would be in the rough and tumble of daily living where so often I was convinced that my way had to be the best way, even when consequences revealed the error of my thinking. How could two people who loved each other so much find so many things that could reduce them to silent antagonists? Yet in spite of all the frustrations and disappointments there have been the glorious moments that have also played a role in transforming a starry eyed romantic relationship into a solid bond of closest friends and fully committed lovers. It is what it is and that is so good!

I know my experience is not unique. I am amazed as I talk to my peers, at how many of them after spending a lifetime in a career feel that what they anticipated when they began proved to be quite different than the reality they experienced. It did not matter whether they were teachers, or doctors or insurance salespeople. Many of them feel like aliens in the world that their adult children inhabit. Their intimate relationships have been stretched and altered and transformed.

I think that for many of us these changes have been a part of the ever accelerating changes that our society has experienced. These have made it hard for us to keep up and constantly reinvent ourselves. Instead of frustration and disillusionment about what our professions, or our children or our relationships have become or how the goalposts have shifted we can choose to recognize that nothing in our world is the way it was or the way we thought it was going to be. However, it is what it is and there are myriads of things for which we can be grateful and we need not live in either fear or regret. It is what it is and there is truly only One who knows the end from the beginning and His greatest desire for us is to know that we are loved.


Peter Black said...

You speak for me, and no doubt for many of our peers, in this article. I've found myself stating your key phrase ("It is what it is") with fair frequency in recent times. I believe you show that this is not a defeatist resignation, but a mature affirmation of a learning, growing life, lived with faith amidst a constantly-changing world.

Marlene said...

I totally agree with you Eleanor and with Peter Black when he notes, that we are not defeatists, but maturing in our awareness of the reality around us that we are not in control, not are we victims. How wonderful to be able to state - 'it is what it is' and know Who is behind it all!

Fred said...

Thanks for the note Eleanor. This dance we have with the plan of God for us and our world, and our imperfect pursuit of the same, makes for this tension.

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