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In addition to the comment, “I don’t have to go any further than the mirror. It’s me and me alone,” I was interested to find another repentant phrase, “I don’t think God’s through with me,” in John Edwards' remark after coming out of the courthouse that judged his campaign fraud trial.

In May 2nd New York Times article titled, “Mr. Edwards and the Shrimp,"

"Edwards thanked the jurors for acquitting him of one count of campaign finance violations and failing to come to a decision on the other five. “I don’t think God’s through with me,” he added. - - Although Edwards was appropriately vague about what he thought God had in mind. He did say he hoped to do something to help children “in the poorest parts of this country.”

As the writer says “Edwards was ‘appropriately vague’ about what he thought God had in mind,” I’m not clear with what is exactly meant by “I don’t think God’s through with me.”

OALD defines “through with sth /sb” as “Especially AmE. Used to show that you have finished using something or have ended a relationship with somebody.” So I guess “God’s through with me” means (he didn't think) “God abandoned (him),” but I'm not sure of.

Although OALD says it’s especially American, is “God’s through with me (us, them)” well-accepted in English speaking countries other than America?

Can I say “Voters are through with the candidate,” “It looks my boss is through with me,” “I heard she is through with her husband”?

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Yes to all of your questions in the last sentence. The classic example of "God's not through with me" is Al Bundy in Married With Children. –  Optimal Cynic Jun 3 '12 at 2:15
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4 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

I believe that Edwards is saying that God still has work for Edwards to do - presumably something to help children “in the poorest parts of this country.”

However, the phrase can also be construed to mean that Edwards is not a finished product - that God still has some work left to do on him to make him a better person. Many years ago at Vacation Bible School, I learned a little song:

We're kids under construction
Maybe the paint is still wet
We're kids under construction
The Lord might not be finished yet.

I can't answer your question about acceptance in countries/regions other than the US - but I can tell you that through with x is a widely-used construction in the US; it can mean

There's also a closely-related (but not identical) idiom when I get through with x, which can mean:
- when I've finished working: I'll call you when I get through with my report.
- when I'm done beating/punishing (a person): When I get through with you, you'll wish you'd never been born.
- an ironic positive usage, based on the previous: You think you love Sue, but when I get through with you, you won't ever look at Sue again. (Patsy Cline, When I Get Through With You You'll Love Me True)

Finally, there is a similar but unrelated phrase to get through, meaning to arrive at a destination despite obstacles or interference: The message got through at last. If it's a messenger or a courier who arrives, s/he might be carrying something, and one might say that s/he "got through with" it: Balto and his team got through with the diphtheria antitoxin just in time. Again, however, this is an unrelated usage.

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I think this refers to the notion that, when God wants you to be doing something (i.e, changing your behavior, or your direction in life, or getting serious about something), it's sometimes said that "God is working on me." So, if God has started working on you, but the turnaround is coming along rather slowly, you might say, "God is still working on me" – that is, you are still a "work in progress."

I think that's the sentiment being expressed here with "God isn't through with me yet." In other words, "God has started something, but there's still more work to be done."

The word "through" here can be interpreted as "finished" or "done" – as in, "God isn't finished with me yet."

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I think that the notion of "God is working on me" is not quite what is meant here. The meaning is less about how God wants to change you, and more about the notion that God has a specific purpose in mind for you- You are destined to play a part in his grand scheme and your part has not yet been played. So God is not through with you- he still has more for you to do.

The interpretation "God isn't finished with me yet is right, but it's in the sense of using you as a tool. In the same line as if someone asks you, "Can I use that pen?" And you reply with, "No, I'm not through with it yet."

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I agree with your interpretation, but isn't there a hint of reproach as well? God hasn't finished with me, but not necessarily what he has in store for me will be pleasant or even painless. –  Paola Jun 3 '12 at 0:58
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It can mean:

  1. God is not done changing me. This can imply further trials (not necessarily of the courtroom variety).
  2. God is still walking with me (through good and/or bad experiences).
  3. He has great things in store for me (to do).

In short, it can mean a lot of things and is, as the writer said "appropriately vague".

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I thought I cannot get the idea of this phrase simply because I’m not native English speaker incapable of understanding the nuance of the English idioms or set phrases. But as the writer himself admits Edwards’ remark is ‘appropriately vague’, it doesn’t seem there is a single and definite answer to say ‘This is what exactly he meant.’ If even the writer is not certain of Edwards’ real intent and your answers come in multiple ones, I’ll be acquitted of the blame for placing a naive question that is self-explanatory to native speakers. –  Yoichi Oishi Jun 3 '12 at 5:30
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