When I was a little kid, we had a closet downstairs full of toys, dress up clothes, board games, etc. It was pretty amazing. We're talking Ask Zandar, Forbidden Bridge, Dream Phone, some real jewels! We also had this little red barn with a white roof. When you opened the barn door, it made this mumbled mooing sound that always made us laugh. The inside housed a toy horse, pig, cow, sheep, etc. In the white roof, a cubby opened to display the rafters of the barn, where a sticker of hay was placed . It also came with a separate silo! When you pulled off the lid to the silo, it stored a fence that could be set up to keep the animals wrangled together. It felt like a pretty swanky deal.
I have random memories of my mother telling people that one of the ways we were good kids is because we didn't trash our toys. I didn't really understand how this made us good kids or was out of the ordinary in any way but I remember hearing her say this. She'd mention that we didn't lose the pieces to games and we put our toys away. It was so interesting to me that she found it notable that we took good care of the toys that we had.
Flash forward like...15 years to when I was living in Logan, UT....
My dear friend Kori and I went to a thrift store one day because we were bored. As we meandered through the store trying on funky glasses and weird hats, we came across this same toy farm! I opened the barn door, laughing with Kori about how we had this toy growing up. It was funny to me that I knew how many of the cool features were missing from the barn being sold at the thrift store. The weird, gargled, mooing sound when you opened the barn door didn't work anymore. Some of the animals were missing and the silo was nowhere to be found. haha Anyone buying this thrift store barn would have no idea that they were missing out on a silo stuffed with fence pieces to use as a pen for the animals. On top of that, the barn looked old and worn. I heard my mothers voice in my head about how we had always been good at taking care of toys. For the first time I was able to make a connection at how different the toys look when they are vs. aren't being taken care of.
I've thought about this moment a lot over the years. The concept I came away with was, "If you want something to last, you treat it differently." It's been meaningful for me to apply this concept to relationships.
I'm not married, but might be one day. I've looked back on my dating relationships and this barn principle comes to mind. I don't want to treat anyone in a way that would make them feel like I didn't value them, with all of their unique quirks, and want our relationship to last. It can be easy to become negligent or complacent in a relationship over time. The excitement of a new toy eventually wears off and it could get left outside in the rain, doing damage to some of the toys features. Likewise, so can negligence and carelessness keep you from looking after and caring for the things that matter most and that make the relationship unique (the silo and mooing door, if you will).
I've recently been thinking of the flipside of this scenario: how I don't want to be in any relationships where I'm going to end up feeling like a thrift store barn version of myself--feeling worn and treated with carelessness. It's not sustainable and it won't last. Relationships, whether romantic or friendships, will only endure when handled with the intention of them lasting a very long time. And not just lasting, but years down the road, having the way you cared for them be partially what kept them looking and functioning like their best selves. I hope to better appreciate people for all of their unique qualities and features. And I hope we can care about ourselves enough to not be around people who don't take care of you and yours. Perhaps treat people in a way that you're not the last person that gets to see what they have to offer.
That's my thought for the day. Whatever it might mean to you, if you want something to last, you have to take care of it.