404 How I Decided To Live A Good Story

How I Decided To Live A Good Story

My parents divorced when I was very young. My mom remarried shortly thereafter to an Air Force man. I became a military brat and my life was thrown into a whirlwind of moving to different cities, going to different schools and constantly meeting new people.

All of the change and uncertainty made me feel out of control of my own life. So the moment I was old enough to make my own decisions, I decided to stop moving.

That moment came right after graduating high school. The third of which I had been to in four years. I had just started college and my parents were moving again. This time, they were going without me.

This was something I could finally control. One more move wasn’t a risk I was willing to take.

Fear Breeds Control

I had an intense fear of change. This fear compelled me to find something I could control. When I became an adult, I was able to control my own decisions. I no longer had to be forced into change.

I believed this control kept me safe. But this control held me back from risk in all forms. The fear was causing me to miss out on living a better story.

All of my decisions were fear-based. Because I needed to manage my risks, I missed out on many opportunities in my life. Road trips, concerts, jobs, relationships. I avoided risk and conflict at all costs.

But taking risks and facing conflict was exactly what I needed to find my purpose.

Getting Comfortable With Conflict

When I turned 30, something changed inside of me. I began longing for more meaning in my life. I started to realize that playing it safe wasn’t going to get me anywhere.

So I decided to take some risks.

Risk #1: My First Missions Trip

I grew up in the church but had never been on a missions trip. In 2010, I decided it was time. But I couldn’t settle for just any trip. I decided to fly to southeast Asia to join a team that was training church planters in 2 different countries. Oh, and these were guys that I met on the Internet.

So I flew to Thailand…by myself. And I met up with two guys…I had never met in person.

It was terrifying and exhilarating.

It turned out to be one of the most exciting adventures of my life.

Risk #2: Online Romance

I had been blogging for about 6 months when I met her. We hit it off immediately. I wrote deep, insightful blog posts. She wrote deep insightful comments. She wrote hilarious and compelling stories. I wrote hilarious and compelling comments.

Within a few months we were talking on the phone and 2 weeks after that we met up in person.

We lived 1,000 miles away and had completely different backgrounds but something inside of us formed an immediate and irrevocable connection.

Within 4 months of the first time we met, we were engaged. Three months later we were married.

It was terrifying and exhilarating.

It has turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Risk #3: Quitting My Safe Job For My Dream Job

By most people’s standards, I had a great job. I was with a great company, with great pay and great benefits. But I was miserable.

I would sit and daydream about writing while creating pivot table reports in Excel spreadsheets. I needed a ray of hope.

That ray of hope came in the form of a part-time job handling communications for my church. I had been writing my blog for about a year and developing my passion for writing. It was a perfect fit. Minus the pay and the hours, of course!

But I knew that it was an opportunity that might never come around again. My new wife was completely supportive and so I risked it.

It was terrifying and exhilarating.

It has turned out to be the best job I’ve ever had.

The Makings of a Good Story

You can’t live a good story without taking some risks. Many of my risks paid off but others didn’t turn out so well.

I’ve put my heart on the line and felt the sting of rejection. I’ve invested time into friendships that have drifted apart. I’ve had creative efforts that were deemed “not good enough”.

But a good story isn’t just about taking risks. It’s about overcoming them. It’s about facing conflict and allowing it to change you for the better. It’s about overcoming failure and learning how to persevere.

What I’ve learned is that when you’re living a good story you can be sure of this:

It’s terrifying and exhilarating.

And that’s when you know that you’re fully alive.

What are you doing to live a better story?


This post is part of a blog series called “What Does It Mean To Live A Good Story?“. Click the link to read the other stories in the series.


  1. Your post made me smile because at my age, I am learning to not let fear be such a factor in my life. It is encouraging to see how your risks have resulted in greater blessing in your life.
    Dolly@Soulstops recently posted..When it is dark, and you can’t see Him…

  2. It helps to know that there are folks like you taking risks and working hard to follow their calling. Keep up the good work!
    ed cyzewski recently posted..Belonging: The Gospel Gives Us What We Don’t Want

  3. Fabian Sam says:

    Really life is very mysterious.We don’t know about our future. So we can not get 100% correct decision. But you are lucky i think. Thanks for sharing.
    Fabian Sam recently posted..San Pablo Nuevo sigue esperando

    • Exactly. A risk is making a decision without knowing the future. The bigger the risk, the bigger the consequence…but there is also greater opportunity for reward.

  4. I loved reading this. I have recently done a similar series of posts called Risk Week. The idea is to live a great story. I’m trying. I planted a church this year and like you I’m now at my dream job.

  5. You have a pretty awesome story, Tony!

    Right now, I’m in the process of raisng funds to focus on Ignite full time, and be able to travel to Czech and now Romania on a regular basis to work with young people and see them impact their world for Christ. It’s crazy, it’s scary, it’s taking every ounce of faith I have to get to that point. But it’s so worth it.
    Jason Vana recently posted..Human Be-ings, Not Human Do-ings

  6. Such a great article today – I can relate to much of this – as I am the risk taker in our family – but I started out as a very fearful child. Risk is where the excitement of life is – where the growing and learning really join and I find it exhilarating. I’ve had to push past many nay-sayers in my life to go after things – have the “dream job” and learn to just say “no” to things that could control me. Good for you, Tony!

    • It seems that I’ve been the biggest nay-sayer in my own life. Once I learned to overcome that inner voice of fear, I started jumping without a net!

      I love that you’re a risk-taker, Cindy. Your courage is contagious to those around you!

  7. That is so cool Tony, I never knew about how you met your wife! I have to say that that is also one of the most unique romance stories that I have ever heard of. Never heard of somebody getting together over blog comments – LOL: that is so cool 🙂

    Man I really love how you talk about taking risks. It seems that all of the risks that you took have paid off. To me, it seems like we can call them stepping out in faith. How has work/ministry been treating you at the church?

    • Yeah man, it’s been a wild ride. But one I wouldn’t change for anything. I actually have another friend that I met online that recently moved in my area to plant a church. His story is similar to Katie and me. They met through their blogs and got married shortly thereafter. God must be doing something with that!

      And yeah, working at the church has been amazing! It’s been the best experience I’ve had not just because it’s a good fit with my talents but it’s like family. I’ve never been a part of a community where I felt so comfortable and valuable.

      Thanks for checking in on that, Peter!

  8. Amazing journey! I know I battle fear of change and I too like control. Thankfully as I’ve grown in Christ, I am learning to let go and let me tell you- my life is way more joyful!
    TC Avey recently posted..I’ll Be Seeing You

  9. Love this, Tony! It’s so great hearing about the ways people have evolved and changed, in part due to the risks they take.

    And funny enough, one of my first leaps was flying to Thailand after I finished grad school to serve with a nonprofit for a few weeks. I’d never flown internationally before and I didn’t know the other 25ish people that would be there once I landed. Still one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
    HopefulLeigh recently posted..How Nashville Is Changing Me (for the better)

    • That’s awesome! That flight to Thailand alone is intense, right?? But no great adventure is 100% safe or comfortable. Thanks for sharing that, Leigh. So cool!

  10. What a cool post to read Tony! Love that you are honest about your early life and your “early adult life.” But like it even better that you took risks when others might be starting to play it safe. Thanks for the encouragement that even at my age, I can take risks. Now…where’s my cane?
    bill (cycleguy) recently posted..Confrontation

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