Dumpster Fire? Nah.

I’m tired of calling 2020 a dumpster fire.

Okay, so it’s funny and it makes a good meme. But I’m kind of done with that kind of talk.

Right now, the pandemic is raging. In some places it’s worse than when it began. I tested positive in October and it hung on to me for two months. It’s horrible – unlike anything I’ve ever felt before. This virus has hurt me, my family, and my friends. And it’s causing so much pain around the world.

And yet…

2020 is an important year – a year that absolutely had to happen. I’m not trying to be Mr. Positive writer-guy here either. If this year hasn’t centered you in some way, if it hasn’t made you appreciate the life we normally get to live, and the incredible freedoms we have. If it hasn’t made you think twice about the people and things you took for granted. If it hasn’t changed you, then I don’t know what to say.

I mean, I will literally never complain about work again. How many people lost their ability to pay the rent? I’m thanking God every day for my job. How many people lost their business? How many had a loved one die with nobody at their side? Honestly, I don’t think we like to think about it much. We’re too busy trying to keep ourselves afloat.

I used to think this kind of thing was corny, but right now, I’m diving into everything I can get my hands on about intentional living – actually planning things out, making goals, benchmarks and milestones 1 year, 5 years, even ten years out. And here’s why.

Before COVID-19, I was letting fate write my story. And as Donald Miller says, “fate is a terrible writer.” I’m a super happy guy. Life is good. But I got away from holding the pen to my own story. I was just turning off the alarm clock every morning and whatever happened happened.

Well, thanks to the “dumpster fire,” I’m like that map on my phone; I’m recalculating. I’m thinking about how much time I’ve been wasting, how many things I said I was going to do but never really doing them. People would ask me, “How’s the book coming?” “When is your podcast coming out?” Well, never if I don’t actually do the work.

Back in February, I wrote these words. The only thing worse than the virus would be if we emerge from it unchanged.

We must change. I must change. Here’s how you can start: make a list of your “never agains.”

NEVER AGAIN will I take human contact for granted.
NEVER AGAIN will I worship the wrong things.
NEVER AGAIN will I look at hospital workers, first-responders, truckers, grocery store workers, and cleaning people the same way.
NEVER AGAIN will I view dinner and a movie as some kind of right because I work hard.
NEVER AGAIN will I be afraid to step forward when I’m needed.
NEVER AGAIN will I let days, weeks, and months just drift along without a plan.

Dumpster fire? Nah, I’ve never been clearer that I need God. My wife and I are closer. We haven’t spent this much time with our 20-year year old daughter since she was a toddler.

The virus has stripped down life like an acoustic song.

We stay home.
We put puzzles together and watch movies.
We make banana bread.
We got a puppy!
I got my bike down off the hook in the garage for the first time in years.
I do Zoom calls with friends from high school to share what we’re going through.
Reaching out to people is no longer optional, it’s a weekly goal.

Is fate writing your story? And if so, how can you take back control? What are your never agains?

I’m not saying this is easy, but I’m grateful for 2020. For all it’s taught me. We have this new space. And we get to choose. Don’t let fate fill that space.

Choose wisely.