In my recent blog “Yes – And, Part 1,” I talked about the two words used in Improv (Improvisational Theatre): the word “yes” and the word “and.”

Improv starts when you respond to a partner’s statement by saying “yes,” which means you have accepted the reality of what the other person just said, no matter how ridiculous it may seem. You can’t change it, even if you don’t like it. It’s real.

My encouragement was this: learn to say “yes” and accept the reality of your current circumstances. Like it or not, it’s real and happening now.

The second component of Improv is this: You say to your partner, “Yes, and,” followed by your response. Your response is the key, both in Improv and in life.

In author Travis Thomas’s book 3 Words for Getting Unstuck: Live Yes, And, he talks about the word “and.” It’s about adding new information and choosing your response.

Amid our troubles, we often think we have no control, but we do. We control how we will respond in our thoughts, our words, and our actions.

It isn’t always easy. Jesus said we will all have troubles in life, and some will be more challenging than others. What becomes most important is our response to the difficulties and challenges we face.

What choices do we make? Do we quit, hiding from our troubles? Or do we move forward and use the opportunity for something good?

As a speaker, I’ve had the opportunity to talk with many groups about unemployment and career transitions. In those conversations, I remind the audience that “Why?” is the wrong question to ask. It doesn’t help you move forward.

We all want to understand why something negative happened in our lives, but to ask “Why?” is not a response. In the end, why something happened doesn’t matter. The real question to ask is, “What?”

  • What do I need to learn from this experience?
  • What do I need to do with my time during this journey?
  • What skills have I been given?
  • What plans does God have for me?

No one had a more challenging decade than the Biblical character Joseph—and it started when he was just a teenager! He was sold by his brothers into slavery, then put in jail for a crime he didn’t commit.

Joseph accepted his reality, but he also believed God was watching over him and had a plan. His response to his brothers when he met them years later was to say, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Genesis 50:20).

God uses the difficulties in our lives to shape us, to prepare us, to get us ready for what’s next. So, while it’s hard to accept our reality when it isn’t where we want to be, it’s all for God’s purpose.

Whatever is happening in our lives, you and I are in the middle of it, and God will use it to help us.

In the book of Romans, we are reminded: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). You’ll notice Paul didn’t say “in the good things,” or “in the things we like.” Instead, he said, “All things.”

You don’t choose what happens to you, but you get to choose how you respond. Let’s trust God and move forward.

How have you learned to respond to tough situations or disappointments? Share your story with us in the comment section.