Did you know that somewhere in the world of commercial Christianity run amuck there is a Joel O’Steen board game?
Yes indeed. And if you haven’t been playing it, you aren’t living your best life now, my friend.
How and when a Live Your Best Life Now board game came into my possession I don’t remember, but being in the game closet, it found itself among potential choices for game night this past weekend.
Maybe it was sheer curiosity, or the promise of “7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential!” on the cover, but before you could say, “It’s Your Time!” we all found ourselves staring at the box. I asked seven of my friends – Zack, Rebecca, Brenda, Lauren, Andrew, Matt and John – if they would be willing to give it a try, and they gamely agreed.
There are seven of us, and seven levels to the game, which feels sort of Biblical already. I open the box and read the instructions:
Find a room that is warm and comfortable and with a setting that will make all players feel welcome. Make sure everyone has a beverage and munchies.
Distracted by the mandate to get a beverage, we immediately lose John to the kitchen.
The rules appear to be somewhat straightforward. We all start on a space marked TODAY and advance across the board through seven levels of forests and mountains until reaching TOMORROW.
Before the game starts, players are instructed to write a specific goal on a piece of paper and place it in the MY MIRACLE envelope. The MY MIRACLE envelope is then placed under the board game, beneath the corner marked as TOMORROW.
Andrew is lost in deep thought.
“Does the goal have to be real?”
We decide that yes, it would probably be helpful if the goal were indeed real.
The instructions inform us that if you get stumped at any time and need to skip a turn, you can play a “Have Faith” card with an inspirational Joel O’Steen quote on the back.
Zack and Rebecca advance to Level #1 – Enlarge Your Vision. They draw a card and are instructed to search for “images within the image” within a picture of a cloud.
“Projectile vomiting,” Rebecca suggests helpfully, pointing out the vision on the card.
Matt declares he sees a puppy in his card.
“People sitting at a table,” says Andrew.
“Cauliflower,” says John, confidently.
What this has to do with our best life, no one is sure, but after enlarging our vision, we move to Level 2.
Level #2 – Develop a Healthy Self Image, instructs players to look into a small mirror as they make positive statements about themselves in a 15-second time limit. This level gets off to a slow start, as Zack is having a hard time seeing himself in the mirror.
“It’s all fuzzy,” he complains.
Brenda draws a card and is instructed to Make a positive statement about your own ethnic background.
“If I could be another ethnicity, I would want to be African,” she declares.
Brenda is from Wisconsin, but no one wants to dump on her dream, so everyone nods, thoughtfully.
Andrew is tasked with making a positive statement using the word “hope.”
“I want to bring people…hope?”
“Can we bash on other people’s positive statements?” Matt asks disgustedly.
Not in the Develop a Healthy Self Image round, someone tells him.
John draws a card. “Say something complimentary about your feet.”
John starts to sweat, holding the mirror out in front of him. “You’re right – it is blurry,” he tells Zack.
Zack discovers a protective layer of plastic film over the front of the mirror. “Aha!” he says, peeling it away.
Looking at oneself in the mirror is much easier with the layer of film removed.
“Is that part of the game?” someone whispers.
We then move to #4 – Let Go of the Past. “Name a song from your past you dislike due to an unpleasant memory,” Rebecca reads.
“The Macarena,” Zack blurts out instantly.
“Great Balls of Fire,” says Lauren. There is apparently some sort of story involving a childhood tap dance and a spanking.
Here the group starts to get a little lost. Matt is trying to skip to #5 – Find Strength Through Adversity, looking innocent. John and Andrew have meanwhile gotten distracted by a discussion about Andrew’s tangerine, organic lip balm.
In #6 – Live to Give, players are instructed to remove the written goals of another player from the MY MIRACLE envelope, write a note on how they commit to helping that player reach their goal, and place it back in the envelope.
“Dude, I don’t understand your goal,” John tells Andrew.
Andrew, a programmer, launches into a speech about codence and wordpress themes that no one really understands.
With all goals back in the envelope, we advance to TOMORROW, #7 Choose to be Happy.
Zack draws a card labeled, Look at the person to your left until they smile or laugh. This is Rebecca, his fiancée, and they stare deeply into each other’s eyes, stone-faced.
This could go on for quite awhile, so Lauren draws a card. “When is the last time your integrity made you happy?”
Matt draws a card, Have you ever laughed until something came out your nose? This involves a long story about a high school biology lab.
Andrew is tasked with imitating a public figure. He does a rousing impression of Michael Jordan, and everyone claps enthusiastically.
We finally reach the end, where the MY MIRACLE envelope is opened and everyone’s goals are read, along with the personal promises to keep them.
I only have one personal goal – to never play this game again, which Zack, Rebecca, Brenda and John promise to help me keep.
We part with the words of Joel O’Steen:
“God didn’t make you to be average.”
“God works where there’s an attitude of faith,” and
“If God has given you joy, share it with someone else.”
I am sharing my experience of playing the Live Your Best Life Now board game with you, so you don’t have to.
*Special thanks to Zack, Rebecca, Brenda, Lauren, Andrew, Matt and John, who probably wish they had an hour and a half of their life back. You guys rock, forever and always.