I’ve posted here a few times on this topic, but it’s always worth a re-visit. Down through the ages there have been various pronouncements about accepting things in life –
All the way from “Make the best use of what is in your power and take rest as it happens.” – Epictetus (circa 55 AD)- from a recent Jack’s Winning Words blog.
And then there was the advice in a more modern song – “Let it be” – The Beatles
The key to understanding those pieces of advice is our ability to distinguish between those things that we can change from those over which we have no control. Frustration, anger or maybe even despair come from railing against those things that we cannot control, rather than just accepting them and getting on with life.
The little toss-away saying “It is what it is”, is a reflection of the rather passive attitude that everything that happens to you is just something that you have to accept. I don’t accept that.
Sometimes, “what it is” might be an injustice or the result of a prejudice and you don’t have to passively accept that. Sometimes, “what it is” might involve a slight or a snub or some other hateful or hurtful behavior towards you and what you still control in those situations is how you react to them. Fortunately, we have some help with that which is captured nicely in this little quote that is also from the Jack’s Winning Words blob –
“God give us the power to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, courage to change the things which should be changed and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.” (Reinhold Niebuhr)
Jack went on to write that this was a little prayer originally included in a sermon by Niebuhr and that it has been adopted by many 12-step programs including AA. You don’t have to be in a program to use it to make your life better. Pray for that wisdom to distinguish in your life those things that you just need to accept from those that you have the power to change and then pray for the courage to change them. Remember that “it isn’t what it is until you decide that it is.”
For those things that cannot be changed, pray for the power of God’s peace that will allow you to accept them with serenity. As the Beatles song says – Let it be.
Have a great and peaceful week ahead!