If you’ve ever been in a play or any kind of production where you were required to recite memorized lines, you know the most terrifying thing to happen is to forget your lines. You freeze, palms begin to sweat, you get the deer-in-headlights look, heat begins to overwhelm your body, causing instantaneous beads of sweat to appear on your forehead. It’s absolutely mortifying…so I’m told.
With much of my youth and young adulthood occupied by acting in some form or another, both at Mississippi College and during my early seminary years with The Company, I have had my share of mental lapses. Truly, there are few experiences to compare. Correct me if you are the exception, but anyone who has done any kind of public speaking or acting can relate an experience such as I’ve described. So, what do you do?
One of the most important lessons I was taught by my college theatre professor was that when you are in a scene and you forget your lines, momentarily stop. Now, take a breath and in your mind, gently pick up your focus and put it back in the middle of the scene. Where are you in the play? What was just said? Many times, this practice helps quickly trigger what you are supposed to say next. Even if it doesn’t though, living in the scene where you are and as the character you are, can lead to a proper response that will allow your fellow actor(s) to help get the scene back on track. This is called living in the “truth of the moment.”
Technically, in Method Acting, the truth of the moment essentially involves an actor, living authentically in the role he is playing (i.e. “becoming” the character by relating similar real experiences to the those of the character and then responding honestly according to those identifications). Often, lines are forgotten because the actor is too caught up in the process of simply reciting memorized lines rather than living authentically in the moment. Living in the truth of the moment is being honest and authentic in the scene you are playing so that, even if your lines are momentarily lost, gently putting your attention back in place, remembering who you are in the production, and reacting honestly in the scene can get you going again. Quite often, the audience never even suspects it.
I have found myself in similar situations as a disciple of Jesus. I may be trucking along fine, living out my role authentically and honestly, faithfully reading the Word and praying, when all of a sudden (so it seems), I hit a slump. I forget who I am in the scene God has cast me in, I lose focus and begin to drift away from honestly and consistently abiding in Him (John 15). I am in danger of completely wrecking the scene, distancing myself from the things of God and negatively affecting my testimony. What do we do in those situations? How do we recover without being bogged down in distraction, frustration and despair?
Live in the truth of the moment.