Common Thoughts (Sidebar 1)

It is what it is. But somehow I think I’m smarter than God as I would do things differently. Why this and not that is the fundamental beginning question of philosophy. First we ask what is this that I see. Then we ask why is this that I see. Then we ask why this and not something else that I see.

Why is it important that we know who our grandparents were, and who their parents were, and beyond that? Because it tells us something about who we are, why we are who we are. I find myself privileged to have been born in the later part of the twentieth century, to have been born in the United States of America, and to have been born in the state of California. My mother’s mother came from Ireland to the United States in the late 1800s ending up in Ceres, California where she married my grandfather whose family also came from Ireland but way back in the late 1700s. My mother, their child, was born in Ceres, California and never left the state. My father’s mother’s family also came from Ireland and ended up in Tennessee, then at least one of them ended up in Arkansas where her mother married a man who was both from Irish and German stock, his great grandfather coming from Germany. My grandmother and grandfather then had my father in Arkansas, then moved to Oklahoma, then later moved to California where my father met and married my mother. This history makes up part of me and while it’s an incomplete history (a lot of facts are unknown) I understand where I am and why. I understand part of my personality because it’s made up from this history.

There is another history that is mine. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” “ Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness. . .  So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”(Genesis 1:1; 1:26-27.) This is the very foundation of who I am. I am, like everyone else who ever lived, am both a creation of God and a child of God. When I search back through my ancestry it will end and begin here.

It is what it is. I had nothing to do with any of that as I’ve had nothing to do with any of my more recent ancestry. My maternal grandmother, when my mother was a young girl, ran away from her family and home and was never seen nor heard from again. I would love to have known her because she was part of my mother’s definition and mine. My paternal grandfather died when my father was young. I would have loved to have known him because he was part of my father’s definition and mine. I did know and experience my maternal grandfather and my paternal grandmother and I loved them both. They told me so much about my mother and father, and of course, me.

I cannot change any of my prehistory though there are places where if I could I would. If, for no other reason it would better define me, add more clarity to me and to life in general. But it is what it is. If this is true with my historical family how much more is it with God. As I sit here today, I cannot understand why he did and does what he did and does. I’ve learned things about this foundational ancestor of mine answering the what of it all, but it greatly doesn’t answer both the why this, and why this and not something else. I find myself the pottery cup asking the potter why did you make me as you did? Why did you give it this shape, this handle and not some other shape and handle? Why did you use this material and not some other material?

All my life I’ve fought with God over the way he does what he does. Not the creation of all things, though I often find it very curious what is. No, I fight him over how he made me and why he allows me to go through what I do. I don’t like it. I believe I would do it a different way and a better way. Why must I suffer fools, though I recognize that at times I’ve been the fool. Why must I suffer physical pain when he created me not to? Why must the innocent suffer and die, though the term “innocent” often is confusing. What is he waiting for to finally clean up our mess? Why did God wait for thousands of years to finally pay our penalty, which we clearly could never pay ourselves, that that gives us the right to be in his perfect kingdom yet we’ve been waiting more thousands of years to enjoy the full benefits here and now? Why doesn’t God clearly and dramatically act in our lives so we have no doubts?

Oh, I would do it so much more differently. If I were God, that is. Despite that sometimes we think we are, we aren’t. I might not like it but I’ve been forced to accept that it is what it is. Forced because it is what it is.

Job must have felt what I’m feeling and he dared to raise the same question but ran into this:

“Who is this who darkens counsel
By words without knowledge?
Now prepare yourself like a man;
I will question you, and you shall answer Me.”
“Where were you when . . .” (Job 38.)

You, God, got Job on that one. Okay, you also got me. It is what it is. I’m still not going to like it, but only because I don’t fully understand. I’m trying to let it be, and go with it because it doesn’t need me to understand, just to accept. This does take a lot of the burden off me. Some of my friends, like Job’s, will push me with unanswerable questions and it will be hard for me to let it be what it is.

Dare I say it? It is what it is. Live with it.

Happy Easter, everyone.