You are Doing Improv with God:
Yes, and. They’re the most important words in improv. They indicate that you agree with what your scene partner suggests, and you’re going to add to it.
This agreement helps you establish the who, what and where of a scene, so the audience can understand and invest in the imaginary reality you are trying to create. By saying “Yes, and,” you accept what your partner gives you, and you can successfully move forward to tell a bigger story.
Whether you realize it or not, you are doing improv every day, and your scene partner is God. Together, the two of you are creating a shared reality. Now, let’s be honest, He does most of the heavy lifting. But you do have the ability to shape the way you handle this improvised reality.
God has his own version of “Yes, and.” It’s “Amen.” It’s the last word in the Bible. It’s how we finish our prayers. And, roughly translated, it indicates “a robust agreement.”
To an improviser like me, the definition of “amen” is a lot like the central principle of improv. While we use God’s word to show He’s stating a robust agreement with what we read and pray, I believe there is an implied “and” there, too. It’s almost like “Ame-and.”
This means it is incumbent on us to go forth and help create a reality that we want to exist. Prayer moves out of the passive realm, and takes on a more active context. Instead of just expressing our desires, prayers can become more like goals – something you can work toward. (Granted, sometimes that work involves being still and waiting for something to happen.)
Amen, God robustly agrees with your prayers. And, now it’s time for you to help him out. Ame-and.
Be a good scene partner. Accept the reality God has laid out before you, and use your “and” skills to make it grow. Think of God as your scene partner in the performance of your life. But keep this in mind: sometimes He can be a real bummer to perform with.
Let’s be honest, sometimes God throws out stuff that makes it hard to keep the show going. He can be like Michael Scott on the Office, constantly bringing a gun into an improv scene and stealing focus from what matters to the other players.
The rules of improv acting hold that if your scene partner says he has a gun, you need to validate that reality. Yes, he has a gun, and she feels afraid (or annoyed that she has to act afraid).Now, you may have wanted to do a scene with God that involves you getting a great job. You may have prayed for a great job. And, instead, God gives you a Michael Scott. It’s the opposite of finding a great job. You can either say “No” to this reality, which will stop the show because no one knows what they are doing on stage, or you can say Ame-and.
Why is it more pragmatic to say Ame-and? Because the “and” gives you power to change the nature of the scene. It gives you a chance to talk down Michael Scott’s gun-wielding character and turn him into your friend.
When I learned I was too educated for entry-level jobs, but lacked the experience for more advanced positions, I went with it. I stopped looking for a job, and instead I made one for myself.
Now, I really wanted a good job. But God had other plans in mind for the scene we’d share. So, I ame-anded it, and so far, it’s worked out well. If nothing else, it brought us together for this brief moment.