Mar 202014 5 Responses

Improv, Denial, and the Will of God

One of my favorite forms of comedy is improvisational comedy. I love it because it appears so difficult. To be able to create a character, scene, or situation on the spot which causes people to laugh is a tremendous skill. I’m impressed by those who can do it well.

For improv to work, each player must submit to one major rule—the Rule of Acceptance. The Rule of Acceptance says that no matter what happens, each actor must accept it as real. They don’t have to like it. They can wish something else had happened. They can even attempt to turn the situation in a direction they would prefer. But no matter what happens, they have to accept it.

For example, two comedians are acting out a scene and one pretends to have a gun, the other comedian must accept that they have a gun. They can’t ignore it or deny it. They can pretend it is a water-gun, or an unloaded gun, or a gun which malfunctions, but they cannot ignore the gun. They can’t act like it never happened. (See: A Funny Thing About Wives and Co-Workers)

If the Rule of Acceptance is broken, the action stops. If I pull a gun and my partner refuses to play along as though I have a gun, the scene dies. Nothing funny happens. We become two people struggling to make something up. Yet as long as my partner goes along, the action continues. Anything can happen. Tension continues to build.

Whenever I think about God’s will, I think the Rule of Acceptance is an important aspect of faith. (See: Never Confuse Acceptance for an Absence of Faith)

Many things happen in our lives which are beyond our control. Beyond that, the Bible tells us that God is sovereignly in control of all things and that He will often act in ways which we do not understand (Isaiah 55.8–9).

Whenever something happens in our lives which we do not control, we must accept it. We don’t have to like it. We have every right to attempt to change it. Yet we cannot live in denial of it.

The moment we break the Rule of Acceptance, the action stops.

Live in denial of your diagnosis and your understanding of what God hopes to accomplish through your illness will stop.

Live in denial of your addiction and your ability to overcome that addiction will stop.

Live in denial of the state of your marriage and your ability to improve that marriage will stop. (See: Change Your Marriage Today)

Live in denial of the negative impact of your bad decisions and your ability to make better decisions will stop.

When the Rule of Acceptance is broken,the action stops.

So many people are stuck in their current state of life because they are living in denial. They are unwilling to accept what has happened to them thus they are unable to build on it.

Often this denial is present because we have confused acceptance with agreement. I can accept something I don’t agree with. Accepting something doesn’t mean I like it. If I was diagnosed with cancer today, I could accept the diagnosis even though I would be unhappy with the turn of events. (See: You Don’t Know That I’ll Be Fine)

There is no requirement for us to like what is taking place in our lives or the lives of others. Life will rarely go exactly as we hope. Yet we must accept whatever is taking place. We have every right to try and change it. We can attempt to turn this scene in our life in a different direction. But we cannot deny it. We must accept it. Because if we don’t, all the action will stop.

What does it mean to accept something?

Acceptance means to see something as it actually is. It’s a recognition of the facts. When we accept something, we no longer deny it or downplay it. We do not falsely blame something on others. Acceptance allows us to take responsibility for our decisions and choices. It forces us to admit what we have or have not done. (See: No One Made Me Do It)

While acceptance doesn’t mean we agree with what is happening, it does mean we recognize it and live life in response to the reality of what is taking place.

What happens once we accept something?

In improv, as soon as one character accepts what they other has created, they can build on the action. If you pretend to have a gun, I can build on the scene by holding my hands in the air or slapping the gun from your hand or pretending that the gun you are holding is a water gun.

When I accept what you have created, I build on it. Whenever we accept what is taking place in our lives, we can then build on it.

By accepting that our decisions have had bad outcomes, we can repent, make amends, and start making better choices.

By accepting a bad diagnosis, we can seek medical treatment.

By accepting what we don’t control, we can focus on those things which we do control.

Only after we have accepted something can we then take the proper actions to make a situation better.

Many times when we don’t know what to do it is because we have not accepted the reality in which we live.

Does any area of your life feel as though it has stalled? Has the action stopped? It’s possible that nothing is happening because you have failed to accept what is taking place. You may be living in denial and therefore breaking the Rule of Acceptance.

You will never like everything which happens in your life. But by following the Rule of Acceptance, you can step out of denial and step into reality.

It’s a better way to live. And like improv, the action which follows acceptance is normally full of humor.

For more, see:

A Dangerous Assumption about the Will of God

5 Responses to Improv, Denial, and the Will of God
  1. […] I wrote about Improv, Denial, and the Will of God. I said that life is just like improv in which one...
  2. […] The wet sponge would make its way across the windshield, then the attendant would flip to the squeeg...
  3. […] choose denial. Unable to accept life in an unexpected form, some people choose to never see the neg...
  4. […] 3. Acceptance. Instead of living in denial, we must accept what is taking place in our lives. Many p...

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