“As surely as God is faithful, our word to you has not been Yes and No. For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we proclaimed among you, Silvanus and Timothy and I, was not Yes and No, but in him it is always Yes, For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through Him that we utter our Amen to God for His glory. And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.”2 Corinthians 1: 18-22, ESV
I went down the Facebook video hole this past week. You know, the one where you watch one video and then the next video starts, and then the next, and the next, and the next, and the next. Until one moment you realize you spent close to an hour and a half on one video feed because each video became more fascinating than the last. Maybe it’s the boredom getting to me, or the mindlessness of social media, or even the ongoing instantaneous entertainment. Probably all three if I am going to be honest.
But— on one of these videos in the hour and a half that I was streaming I ran into this YouTube channel called “Yes Theory”. In this specific video they threw a dart on a map of the United States and said that wherever the dart landed they would fly there the next day, stay there for 48 hours and complete two challenges on one of the given days. Well if you know anything about me, these sound like my kind of dudes. So I went to their YouTube platform and started looking at more of what these guys are about and I found that “[They] believe that life can be as authentic and fulfilling as you wish if you seek discomfort.” In fact, their main motto you see on everything of theirs is Seek Discomfort.
Video after video I went through I was thoroughly entertained, invested, and deeply interested in who they were and why they chose to do these wildly uncomfortable but adventure heavy things. After watching them put themselves through crazy ice challenges like hiking a mountain in only shorts, or asking someone on a first date to Iceland, or even asking a stranger to drive them across Europe, there was a method to their madness that seemed so freeing and exciting to me.
They Said “Yes”
They said “yes” and did not care what people would say. They would go for it no matter the challenge or discomfort. I mean— the amount of confidence and freedom you have to have to say “yes” to fly to Tuvalu, the least traveled country in the world, in just a day? There is something to be said for that. The freedom to constantly and consistently SEEK discomfort? It is on a whole other level.
I remember the first time I heard the words “yes and,”. I was a freshman in high school and I had joined an improv group called C3. We were a group of freshmen and sophomores who auditioned and joined this group of amateur improvisational artists and amateurs with aspirations of being some kind of comedian. But I heard this phrase in the context of always be prepared to say “yes” to the circumstances of a scene. If someone said “I can’t believe you broke your arm,” you had to say “yes, and now my back is killing me.” It was the expectation that you would accept that circumstance and add on top of it. Even if someone told you “Wow, you must love that cold macaroni salad,” it was expected for you to say “yes, it is my favorite food.” (This was actually a real circumstance and it was the most disgusting thing I have ever seen on a stage where someone almost vomited, it was amazing.)
During my time on this improv troupe I learned the phrase “yes and,” and although we were amateurs and many of us really did not stick to that practice, it stuck with me. Here at ACU, I learned more about “yes and,” and the incredible value it adds to storytelling in every scene, not just improvisational. Overtime, my practice of this theatre skill “yes and,” had landed me great opportunities in scenes, getting to work on great characters. It also landed me my first job as an actor. It later landed me an incredible opportunity to collaborate on a film. “Yes and,” had gave me the skill to create original and relevant work as a storyteller.
I felt the freedom to create with no fear of hearing a “no,” because it was mine. The stage was up to me to set. But then I started finding things in my life falling flat. Personal endeavors were not spanning out to be what I had hoped for. Some “yeses” in my personal life were left ignored and unresponsive. It got tough. Until I realized there was something much deeper at play.
I had honed the skill of “yes and,” so deeply that I had avoided it as a life skill altogether.
Now— I have referenced this time in my life multiple times in this blog, but I mention this moment to say that this specific struggle and doubt of mine has been a consistent one that has revealed itself in crazy different ways in the last few years.
I’ve been sitting in quarantine not quite feeling right, maybe it’s the boredom, maybe it’s the lack of social availability, maybe it’s the realization that things are changing. But— I could blame it on any of those I want but as always, there is something deeper at play.
I am crazy future oriented. I love thinking about what could be and what could work out. It is fun to think like that. But currently it has been my least favorite thing to think about. Especially in quarantine. Just to be mild with you and save you another 800 words of reading, I have found myself in the rabbit hole of thinking of the terrible job market there will be when I graduate in May. The terrible economic system whenever I have to pay my student loans. The fact that if I even do get hired somewhere, I’ll have to focus much of my attention to making sure that I’ll be okay if a crazy event like this happens again.
If you can tell, there is a lot of fear circulating in that paragraph above. Which does not sound like me when I am in a healthy mindset today. Which brings me to a public confession of a couple things.
Recently I have been so focused on my future and what God has to say about it, making sure that He is guiding me in those steps, that I have reduced His power to that of future oriented. That God only cares about where I go, that He only cares about the future. In doing this, I have reduced who He is and His love for me. I have actively shut Him out of what He says about my present.
Talk about minimizing the power of God. Or just minimizing God. And yes, I confess to that.
I confess to seeking comfortability both in the present and the future regardless of what God is calling me into.
I renounce the idol of clinging to my own control of what my future is.
I surrender the expectation of whatever I say the character of God is.
Father, I pray that in my confession You would pour Your Spirit into my life. That I would be a living sacrifice to You. I confess that I have ignored Your word with the belief that I can control a better and more fulfilling path. I confess that I have boxed You in as a smaller god. I repent from all of these things, this belief that Your love for me does not run deep. Of this I repent. But God You are mightier. God You are more powerful. God You hold me in Your hands. Father I bring my idol of control and pray that You would give me the strength, courage, and spirit to expel it from my life. God, would you initiate moments in my days to have the specific prayer time to renounce this idol and surrender the lies that I have believed. I ask that You would give me the mindfulness to continue this throughout my days. I believe that You are greater than all else. I believe that You have sent Your Son as an atonement for my sins. I believe that Your Son is Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God. Thank You Father. In Your Son’s name, Amen.
“He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names. Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure.”Psalm 147:4-5, ESV
He gives names to all of the stars. He gives care and attention to each and every one.
You know, it’s easy to get stuck in moments of believing that God is not listening. I think it might be especially relevant today, in the time we live in. But it may be just as important now to recognize these lies and call them out for what they are. In the moment.
There are times when we want to say “yes and,” more than anything in the world. But when we get to those moments we only have the breath to say “no” because that is all we have trained and practiced for. That by actively choosing NOT to confess, repent, and believe we actively say “no” to the invitation that God wants us to say “yes” to.
Recently I attended the best concert I ever went to.
Christ Renzema was singing and He sang one of my favorite songs, How to be Yours, in this song it is this conversation between him and God. In this song he says to God:
You say that You love me, don't say that You love me Cause I don't know how to be Yours You say that You want me, don't say that You want me Cause I don't know how to be Yours I still act like an orphan I guess My hard heart breaks to confess That even while You hold me I cry on the floor I still don't know how to be Yours
In these verses we see a cry of personal anguish of how can God love me? Look at all that I have done, how could You even look at me?
And God responds:
So love Me or hate Me I'm not going anywhere Leave Me or take Me You still bear My signature Know Me or not Seen or forgot I'm not walking out on you
I think it’s time I say “yes and,” to what he is inviting me into today. What is He inviting you into today?