Finding the “Yes, And!”

When I (Judi) was a young theatre student at the University of the Arts, I studied classical theatre.  But when I graduated and worked my first few professional jobs, I found that improvisation was the venue that I was most cast into.  I quickly learned how to build a scene with someone completely unknown to me and create situations and “realities” that were beyond my imagination.  

Creating an improvisational scene has its pitfalls and it can be a disaster if you don’t know a few basics.  There are several things to remember in building a successful, and hopefully humorous, scene.  First and foremost, when your partner suggests something, you always say “YES, And!”  You say “YES” to affirm what he/she has suggested and then you add something more to move the scene forward.  For a cohesive story to be built, the players have to agree to the basic situation and set-up.  The who, what, and where have to be developed for a scene to work.

The challenge is that sometimes your partner wants to go somewhere you do not want to go.  He or she might suggest that you are someone you don’t want to be or you are in a place you would rather not be.  You might have a better idea.  But no matter what you think, it is imperative that you wholeheartedly embrace his/her suggestion or the scene will crash and burn.  (I have had the misfortune of experiencing this firsthand and believe me, once you do, you will do anything to not repeat such a humiliating experience.) 

The truth is that if you resist and say “NO” to what your partner offers you, the story cannot be built.  So a “YES” is required to move forward.  By saying “YES”, we accept the reality created by our partner and begin to engage in a beautifully collaborative process from the start of a scene.  This process helps make us giants, animals, villains, saints and more importantly puts us in situations that we would normally avoid.

I find the “Yes, And!” rule of improvisation very applicable to life in Fullness and Grace.  When we say “YES” to who God says we are, and “YES” to your current situation (even if it is not where we want to ultimately end up), we can begin to move forward and enjoy the abundant life Jesus died for us to have.  God says in His Word that I am precious, treasured, and loved.  God says that He will never leave me or forsake me. 

There were many years when I did not say “YES” to this truth.  I would say, “YES, but…”. Yes, but I am failing in this area, or Yes, but I am a disaster in this relationship, or Yes, but He must be so frustrated with me.  Or even, Yes, but since I just sinned, He doesn’t want anything to do with me, even though He technically “loves” me. Because I did not fully embrace the TRUTH the Lord offered me, I could not fully enjoy my life.  I was addicted to judging and evaluating what He was offering me and what I was offering back.  I kept thinking if I concentrated on what wasn’t working, I could then fix it and everything would be better.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.  It is a like a scene that crashes and burns. 

There is a “zone” in entertainment, especially with improv, when you are at your most creative and you are flowing seamlessly with another person and you and the audience are totally enjoying where you are going.  No one is quite sure where it will end, but the ride is incredibly fulfilling and fun. 

I find myself living this type of life today.  I know that God is good and I expect and receive the good things He offers me.  My gratitude and enjoyment are my “Yes And!” to Him. 

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