“You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t often happen 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 your 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.” ~ The Velveteen Rabbit
The Velveteen Rabbit is one of my favorite children’s book. The thought of real love stemming not from externals, but from familiarity, caught my attention. However, I recently re-read the story in a different light.
If you remember the tale, a little boy receives a stuffed rabbit at Christmas time. The bunny longs for the child to take notice of her. But, there is nothing the stuffed animal can do to attract the boy’s attention. However, in the act of desperation, the boy’s aunt gives the stuffed bunny to the child after he loses his favorite toy. In time, the little rabbit becomes the child’s favorite toy, and, in the young lad’s mind, the rabbit becomes real.
Soon, the child falls seriously ill, and the adults fear some of the toys are exposed to the disease and tosses them, with the Velveteen Rabbit, out to burn. The little rabbit is sad as she watches the flames lick the other toys, and she begins to examine her life. “Oh, what use is it to be real if it ends like this?” she says. It was then that she sheds her first physical tear triggering the Nursery Fairy to rescue her from the rubbish heap, and with a kiss, transforms her into a real rabbit.
So, what does it mean to be real?
The Urban dictionary defines the phrase “Being real” as honesty about everything, and to be authentic where you haven’t been authentic. However, the phrase has morphed from showing vulnerability to excusing bad behavior. Likewise, the “Being real” pushers demand acceptance of their faults because they choose not to change, and if you don’t like it, the problem is not with them, it is with you.
However, if we truly desire to “be real” we must come to terms with who we are before a Holy God. If we’re honest, we will acknowledge that we are sinners, as it says in Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (NASB)
Those who want to be real, “… are resting upon the branch of good works, and yet, every day, your faults, imperfections, and sins are rendering it less and less able to bear your weight. It never was firm support, and if you know yourself, and are candid enough to confess your shortcomings, you will at once perceive that it has become, in the judgment of conscience, a very frail dependence, quite unworthy of your confidence… All reliance on self in any form or shape is gross folly. Feelings, works, prayers, tithing, religious observances, are all too feeble to support a sinful soul,” says Charles Spurgeon in his The Sword and the Trowel tract.
The Velveteen Rabbit reminds me that it is only through the cross of Jesus Christ that we become worthy to be presented to God. Christ’s death on the cross transforms us from sinners separated from God to children of God will live with him for eternity. When we repent of our “real” sinful nature, we then become new creations.
Finally, Jesus Christ accepts us when we are unattractive. When we are worn down by sin, guilt, and suffering the effects of sin, He takes us in and loves us. In fact, we learn to love him because he accepted us as we are with blemishes — like the boy who learned to love the worn Velveteen Rabbit.