“Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.’
‘Sometimes,’ said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. ‘When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.’
‘Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,’ he asked, ‘or bit by bit?’
‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
― Margery Williams Bianco, The Velveteen Rabbit
Wow, after all these years of reading this excerpt from “The Velveteen Rabbit,” my heart still fills up and overflows through my eyes.
This beautiful story was one of my favorites since I was a little girl. My sister, Patti, used to read it to me over and over again. Sometimes I have to wonder how much I understood…which words reached out and grabbed my child self…how much did I truly understand?
Sometimes we don’t need to understand. Sometimes love touches us in ways we can never explain.
This world that we live in, is always attempting to teach us that real love is easy, always sexy, and beautiful…according to the “world’s” standards.
We are led to believe that we all need to be “sexy” and are bombarded with companies that want to fill that need. With skin care, cosmetics, hair products, books, health drinks, drugs, clothes, plastic surgery…the list goes on and on.
We are also led to believe that the moment our marriage (or relationship) is no longer as sexy as the world deems it should be, in order to be fulfilled and happy, we must leave that marriage.
Don’t believe the lie.
True love is not always pretty. True love is not always “sexy.” True love is not always easy.
However, true love touches us and fills us like nothing else. It is the one thing that we are looking for and is always there right before our eyes.
We just need to open our eyes…
To see the beauty of a couple working through struggles that are piercing their hearts like daggers…but they refuse to give up on each other, or their marriage.
To see the beauty of a family, engulfed in pain and grief, surrounding their dying loved one with love, peace, and comfort. And to see the beauty of a soul detaching from this world, and being drawn to another.
To see the beauty of aging, and to realize that those “old” people we are seeing, and sometimes ignoring, have a lifetime of wisdom and experience that they could share with us…if we would just take the time to listen.
To see the beauty in those with open hearts, and no matter what they are experiencing in their own personal lives, always have the time to give something of what they have.
To see the beauty of suffering. Yes…suffering will always exist in this world. The beauty comes in uniting our suffering with Jesus on the cross, looking past the pain and hardship, and seeing Jesus through it all.
To not just focus on the risen Christ, but on the real love and suffering it took to get to that place. Jesus did not save us by the “love” that the world teaches. It was not pretty, sexy, or easy.
What it was…was REAL.
What Jesus gave us is everything.
Do we understand what “real” and true love really are? Do we truly understand?
Real is the suffering, and the giving, that eventually show up as “most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby.”
“Once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
Being real doesn’t happen all at once. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept.”
Being real is the day to day infusion of God’s love, and the openness to truth and mercy.
Let us all strive to be real. That is what the world truly needs.