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Barbara Walking in the Valley
A bi-weekly column, featuring one Christian's (a)musings on life's journey

by Barbara Dahlgren

It Is What It Is
Column for the weeks of July 16-31, 2006

I recently learned a new phrase. “It is what it is!”

Say you are seated in a restaurant, they bring the menu, and you notice there are no prices. You are too embarrassed to ask what the items cost or leave, so you order. When the bill comes – “it is what it is” – and you pay it, but the tip may be a little low.

Say you are traveling and have car trouble in a remote town. There is only one lone gas station and you need your car fixed. When the bill comes – “it is what it is” – so you just pay it.

Life is full of what I like to call “it is what it is” situations. Some are inconveniences such as: Your child gets sick at school and you must leave the big meeting you planned to go get him. You have a really, really bad hair day. Your car won’t start and you are late. You get lost. Men forget to shave. Women get a run in their panty hose. “It is what it is” – so you deal with the situation.

Some circumstances are just soooo unfair: The other person gets the promotion. A debilitating illness strikes a loved one. Your girlfriend breaks up with you. Someone gossips about you. You do the work; your supervisor takes the credit. “It is what it is” – so you cope.

Other things may be unfair but you get the benefit: You get the promotion when the other guy should have gotten it. You survive the accident when you should have died. The cop didn’t give you a ticket even though you were speeding. “It is what it is” – so you rejoice!

You can’t control life, but with God’s help you can control your reaction to it. That’s what the first part of the serenity prayer is talking about.

“GOD, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change…”

The serenity referred to here is not complacency to what we are going through. The prayer goes on to ask God for “courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” This serenity is a peace that can only come from God. It passes all understanding (Philippians 4:6-7). We don’t need to fret or worry. We know God is with us. This kind of peace or serenity can only come through developing a relationship with God.

Much of life is a mystery. We don’t know what will come next all the time. It is what it is! I think God planned it that way. If we knew everything, we wouldn’t need faith. We don’t know what tomorrow holds. It is what it is! Fortunately, we know who holds tomorrow. And God will see us through whatever lies ahead, if we let him.

Just remember that the great “I AM” (John 8:58) can help us make it through any “it is what it is” situations that come along in our lives!


The Serenity Prayer

GOD, grant me the serenity
to accept the things
I cannot change,

Courage to change the
things I can, and the
wisdom to know the difference.

Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardship as the
pathway to peace.

Taking, as He did, this
sinful world as it is,
not as I would have it.

Trusting that He will make
all things right if I
surrender to His Will;

That I may be reasonably happy
in this life, and supremely
happy with Him forever in
the next. Amen

Reinhold Neibuhr-1926


Be sure to visit this page often to read the next edition of Walking in the Valley. You can write to the author at



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