It Is What It Is . . . Or Not

We are in the car driving. On the way home from spending time with some people who are close to us. We haven’t been with them in a long while. For a variety of reasons.

One of which involves the conversation we always have when we leave. The one where I care. Joey doesn’t understand why I care. Because as he likes to say, “It is what it is.”

For the love of God, what does that even mean!

Once upon a time, I didn’t care at all. Well at least not much. My parents somehow managed to raise a strong-willed, passionate child who was amazingly free. And they did all of that in a pretty crazy, legalistic world.

The problem came when I started working for companies with bosses. No longer was it okay for me to do what I wanted, the way that I wanted.  As I was trying to figure that out, I married into a family that could not be more different than the family I grew up in. My frankness wasn’t appreciated; it was castigated. And more than once I found myself wondering why God chose me to be in that family.

In the beginning I tried not caring. Then I tried harder to get along. Then I faced one of the toughest times of my life when several of the people I thought loved me the most listed for me what they thought were my worst attributes. And I was crushed. I just shut down. I didn’t know how to continue on with any of them.

So I yelled at God some. I didn’t ask for this. I don’t want this. What’s so different about me?

And that was a bunch of freaking dead ends. It is what it is.

And even my husband who I lean on, who I don’t keep secrets from . . . even he doesn’t get it. I try to explain. I try different ways. They always end up with frustration and frequently, anger, on his part. He wants to fix it, and he can’t.

My latest response has been to shift. Maybe, at times, I am the crappy daughter-in-law, sister-in-law, friend, employee that some seem to view me as . . . let’s work on that. What can I do differently? Am I being the person God wants me to be or am I allowing the situation I am in to make me into something different?

What I’ve found is that shifting has alleviated conflict. It has made being with the family more agreeable. But it has not taken away the hurt. It has not taken away the desire for things to be different. It has not made me able to explain all of this to my husband.

But God has been telling me some things lately. In a much quieter voice than the one I previously used to speak to Him. If you listen hard, I bet you can hear His words too . . .

There is only One whose opinion matters. Truly.

That, my precious friends, is an incredible truth. A truth that can set you free. A truth that defines who I am. A truth that embraces me.

For when I am about my Father’s business, I am doing just what I was made to do. When I do things the way He asks me to, the opinions of others are irrelevant.

You know, in the end, it’s not all that different from my childhood. My Father is working to raise a  strong-willed, passionate child who is amazingly free.


  1. Why would ANYONE (much less people who cared about you) list your worst attributes? I hit a brick wall with this statement. I fail to grasp this, or the world in which such is acceptable.

  2. Thank you so much for posting this. I too have struggled with my husband's family for the past 3 1/2 yrs. There are days that I tell myself it doesn't matter that I don't fit in or it doesn't matter that they don't like me or I will never be good enough for them. Most of the time, though, I feel like a failure. It's nice to know that I am not the only one who struggles with this.

  3. In all fairness, I think that some of the people truly thought they were "helping" by telling me what they saw wrong. And others I think acted out of hurt and anger.

    I've been able to discuss it with a couple of them and there has been forgiveness given and received. We have all agreed it was not handled well and hopefully will be dealt with differently in the future.

    I'm glad if this is helpful for someone reading it. It really wasn't meant to be aimed solely at family - they just happen to be a large piece to the puzzle of me figuring out who I am supposed to be and how to get there.

  4. Melissa, I am drawn in by your recounting of this incident in your life. It brings back some old memories for me.

    I was raised to be a southern lady, to be considerate and empathic to others and to always be mannered and polite. (In a nutshell, the golden rule.) My very first visit to meet my soon-to-be in-laws for an extended holiday weekend was eye-opening to me.

    I was thoroughly charmed by his grandmother, a cheery, plain-spoken woman with high energy levels and a mischievous twinkle in her eye. We hit it right off, almost as though we shared some unspoken secret and kinship. His mother was aloof and reserved and very very proper, as was his sister (my age). While I wasn't comfortable with his Mom and sister as much as I was with his grandmother, the weekend was, I thought, a wonderful success.

    As we were packing to leave after a 4-day stay, his sister entered my room. I felt we had warmed to each other somewhat and thought she was coming to convey similar sentiments. Her words to me, that shock me still to this day, were:

    "I want you to know that we can all see right through you and your "Miss Nicey-Nice" behavior, especially to Grandmother, and you need to figure out that "courting" her or any of us will not work in this family."

    I've no idea why she felt the need to convey such venom; the weekend had been very cordial and pleasant all the way around; in fact, until she spoke that to me I had no idea she held any animosity (or why).

    I was crushed, to be honest. I so wanted to be accepted by his family and that incident made it clear there were to be rough patches ahead. This was 20 years ago, and while the marriage ended in divorce after 15 years, she and I never did get any further past polite pleasantries any time we saw each other.

    C'est la vie. In the end, Grandmother and I were great, genuine friends with a deep respect for each other.

    I just let it go, and chalked it up to forces outside of my control. In the words of your husband: "It is what it is."

  5. I too, am a different kind of has been my own family that has continued to pass judgment and be belittling to me..I made a difficult choice and I no longer see all.
    I have accepted myself..good and bad and know that I live my life well and treat others as I would like to be treated.I think that when we are strong and capable it is frightening to many folks and their choice is to make us feel small in order to overcome or overshadow their own fears..
    Be strong, be wise, be yourself..

  6. When I see posts like this I am just curious enough to wonder what the rest of the story is. There are two sides (sometimes more) to every story. I hate that you feel this way and feel that you have been treated unfairly, but what prompted this reaction from those involved?

  7. You are absolutely correct that there are two sides to any story, including each situation I mentioned.

    While I am most definitely hurt by some of the things that have transpired, I wasn't writing this to say I feel I have been treated unfairly in any specific situation.

    The issue is that I beat to the rhythm of my own drum . . . that doesn't mesh well with some people - be it an employer, a friend or even family. So what do I do with that?

    That's the point. The bottom line is I believe we should all be doing what we are supposed to be doing whether it's what we want to do or what someone else wants us to do or not.


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