According to Skin Horse in the Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams, you aren’t real until someone REALLY loves you, and sometimes this hurts. It happens bit by bit over time. It’s like aging. It happens a little every day, but a person doesn’t notice it for a while. We just go about living our lives, experiencing the joys and the hurts. When we are older and wiser, we realize that the people who REALLY love us, love the REAL us.
They don’t see or they choose to overlook what time has done. The broken parts and rough edges make us who we are. Our hair turns gray or falls out. Our skin sags and our eyesight dims. Our hearing, the way we move, how we spend our time and resources, how the body functions—everything changes. It doesn’t happen all at once. Just one day, we notice, and it makes us sad, another of life’s inevitable hurts. Because when we realize how finite our time on Earth is, we start to think about what we hoped to do, what we didn’t do, what we may not ever do.
“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 those things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand,” Skin Horse said.
When we are young, many of us believe a lie that we are not good enough. If you watch children, the really young ones are so beautifully original and fresh, honest and sweet, but as the years pass, life sucks the freedom of being yourself away. Older children might become good at telling you what you want to hear or be what you want them to be, muddying up their own understanding of who they are. They become more guarded and protect themselves in different ways. Into adulthood it continues. The loss of innocence is a great tragedy. Along the way, we come to believe that it is what we do that matters not who we are or whose we are.
Despite the verses in the Bible that tell us not to worry, we worry. We worry about what others think about our clothes, hair, what we say, our opinions, our mistakes—ours and those of our family members, how we decorate or clean our homes, how we landscape, how we prepare our foods, how the foods taste or look, how much money we make or don’t make, how much exercise we do or how we perform it, how loud our pets are, how much we give or don’t give to charity or others, what we have accomplished or haven’t accomplished, how we did on a test or paper or project . . . On and on it goes. We compare, and we worry. What a waste of time and energy. How I wish I could help my children avoid all that nonsense! Yet it is so prevalent, it is unavoidable.
I’m sick of the news feeds that pick on what people wear or what people say. They pounce on people who fail or are different and shout it for the whole world. Compare. Compare. Compare. It’s sickening. No wonder we have such a crisis in people fearing not being good enough, fearing making a mistake where someone can broadcast it and belittle us.
But Skin Horse is right. What others think should not matter. Still, I know people in their 70s who still worry about the things we started in our youth. I wonder if it ever ends. Not only does it make me sad, but it makes me angry, because we shouldn’t listen to all this noise. That’s what it is, you know, noise. It is loud and constant noise attacking us, trying to keep us from being REAL.
Gwen Ford Faulkenberry wrote in her April 25 devotion in Mornings with Jesus: “Shame makes us want to hide. Shame says people will never love you if they know your truth. But Jesus says the truth sets us free. The truth is that He knows us and loves us just the same and there’s no shame in that.”
Colossians 2:20 says, “Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules?”
Doesn’t it all come down to being loved and accepted? The only One who can do this 100 percent is Jesus Christ.
“Weeks passed, and the little Rabbit grew very old and shabby, but the Boy loved him just as much. He loved him so hard that he loved all his whiskers off, and the pink lining to his ears turned grey, and his brown spots faded. He even began to lose his shape . . . To [the Boy] he was always beautiful, and that was all that the little Rabbit cared about. . .” because what other people thought didn’t matter.
We should take a lesson from the Velveteen Rabbit, who figured it out. We belong to Christ, and He loves us no matter our shape and condition. Don’t be ashamed. Be honest. Be yourself. There is freedom for us in the Truth. Let us grab it and never let go!