No, not a cute fixed up barn all shabby-chic and ready for a photo-shoot with Martha Stewart Living. Something like this quaint and charming barn. →
I lived in a cinder-block barn with a tin-roof. Zero insulation except for the air trapped in the blocks, which helped to keep the inside ice-cold during winter, and oven-hot when outside peaked above 87° F.
The cement floor was a great addition with its industrial sized drain. Right in the middle of what I called the living room. A place for water to go when the cows were washed down.
I told myself all the time it was water that went down that drain. Nothing else. No need to start all the crazy slaughter-house thinking.
Rightly so, my parents thought I’d lost my mind. After all I was a girl raised properly with indoor plumbing and a HVAC in the home.
But in this barn? That was not the case. Needless to say, it was my home. And for a time, I actually enjoyed waking up to find a lizards scampering across the floor and up the walls. I’d bundle up in the freeze of winter, and sleep outside under the stars when eggs could fry on the tin roof.
I often think back to that crazy time.
Aside from having the great start-a-conversation-shock-phrase “I lived in a barn” for social gatherings, my experience at the barn has become a great lesson on perspective.
It’s all about how you view things.
When I enjoyed “the barn” I was in a pretty good place. I was in love with freedom. I was fit. I was busy with college and two jobs. And the barn was just a semi-functional place to live. I was running on buckets and buckets of will-power.
One day, mom came to visit. I showed her around. Told her how great the place was. How I could easily have a holiday party in the barn with my fellow teachers at the school-district.
I will never forget her response. She was kind and supportive—as my mom’s always been. But she said, “Sherry you probably won’t want to be here long, but for now enjoy it while you can.”
All these years, that moment stuck with me. It wasn’t shame, simply a mental reality check on the living conditions I was truly under. I’d romanticized my surroundings. Burning the candle at both ends will do that. While I lived in a cinder-block house, my warped perspective had me in the quaint Martha Stewart barn.
FRIEND AND FOE
Your perspective can be a worst enemy or ally.
When you feel good, it sweetens perspective. That sweetness can get you through a lot of junk. Like me and the barn. Or seeing the finish line at the end of the race when there’s simply no energy left. The perspective of the end being near pushes the runner through.
But be in a very bad place, and getting out of bed feels hopeless. Starting a marathon exhausted, not knowing where the finish line is, that’s a design for disaster.
I really hate dislike the word “manipulate. ” Even “manage” feels odd. But it’s key in moving forward. Because perspective is a fickle thing, we can be up one minute and down the next.
Tackling projects, obstacles, goals, etc… require managing perspective (perception). Every task with the potential to become difficult–especially under a crummy perspective–will benefit by breaking it down into little micro-moments. A to-do list that looks overwhelming can be put into do-able bites. A life that is out-of-order with disappearing time can all be fixed through managing your perspective (or just getting’ down and dirty by manipulating it) with micro-movements.
And while you’re at it—you MUST have rewards built-in for the days when things are overwhelming. After a micro-movement, you get a reward. A positive freedom non-destructive reward. Every time. You make it habit. Period.
And yes, on good days maybe you don’t need the reward, but you take it anyways. You are building trust in your head that your good effort is rewarded. Every. time. WHY? Because on the rougher days—these become essential to your productivity and stick-to-it-ness.
And when you stick to it, one micro-movement and reward after the next – a day will come when you’ll find yourself crossing the finish line from a marathon you didn’t know you could run. But first you’ve got to strip off those weights of “impossible” by making a micro-movement plan that rewards diligence.
And then my sweet friend, you WILL take off with those wings and fly.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. H 12:1