Tammy Helfrich

Life begins right where you are.

Living a life of Improv

We are in an awesome series at our church titled “The New Artists.” It’s about rehumanizing our world through creativity, sensitivity, and imagination.  This week’s focus was on improv, and learning to live more in the moment rather than trying to plan everything out.


The Orchard

The Orchard

I have so much to say on this topic, as I feel like I have been learning how to live this way for the last few years. I am feeling the nudge to do something different and be more true to who I really am, but the path has not been crystal clear. Since I am a planner by nature, this has been somewhat frustrating for me. I know that I have to keep moving forward, and this series has been a great reminder of that.

This weekend, my Pastor shared an email I sent him with our congregation. It outlined what living in improv feels like to me. Many people stopped me and told me that I put something into words that they have had a hard time articulating. As a writer, this is always so encouraging to hear. I also thought that if people were moved by hearing it, then maybe some of you might need to hear it as well. Here’s what my email said:

This has been the hardest part of my journey. I continue to try to plan everything out, even when God keeps telling me to trust Him and take one step at a time. It is a lesson I have to learn over and over and over. I want to know the end product. I want to know that there is this one thing that I am supposed to be moving towards. God is telling me differently. He’s saying that I need to take one step at a time. He will help guide me, but I have to trust Him to do it. It’s SO frustrating at times because I want to be further along in the process. But, then I am reminded about what you have said before. It is often about WHO we are becoming on the journey versus the dream itself.

I continually refer to the Richard Rohr quote you shared with me.


“God has to work on your soul “in secret,” according to the saints and mystics. If God gave you any idea of what God was doing, which is always radical surgery, you would do one of two things: you would try to stop it, or you would try to engineer it and take control of the process. God has to operate in darkess to get the job done.”


We want a map, and God often doesn’t give us one because we would worship it. We’d focus on the map instead of Him. When we learn to live in improv, then life can be at its fullest. We’re not stressing about the future. We’re paying attention to the now. We’re present. We’re savoring life, and being grateful for the little things. It’s extremely counter cultural, but so freeing.

It is pretty amazing to me to compare improv to life. I certainly would never consider myself a comedian, which is how I had always thought of improv. However, learning to be present and live in the moment, and trusting God completely is certainly becoming a live in improv for me.


What does a life of improv look like for you? Do you struggle with this as well?


If you are interested in hearing more about this series, you can listen to the podcasts here.


  1. Brock Webster

    May 20, 2013 at 8:07 am

    He was not the only preacher to quote you. In my pentecost message I told the story of the time you was left at your parents business. It was very effective. Sounds like you had a great day!! :)

  2. Excellent post! Some Orchard friends and I were talking today about how much we liked reading this. It’s so true– we’d totally worship the map if we had one. I’ve never thought about improv in this way…. thanks for the challenge!

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