Are You Real?
Illustration by Michael Hargus
P.Jenkins 2018 November 7
I had a profound thought after reading a small section in a book called, The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams.
It is a story about a conversation between two toys. The premise is that the toy rabbit wants to understand how it can become Real.
The rabbit asks a question to the Skin Horse, "What is REAL? Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"
The Skin Horse replies, "Real isn't how you are made. 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."
The rabbit then asks, "Does it hurt?"
Skin Horse responds, "Sometimes. When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."
The rabbit asks, "Does it happen all at once, like being wound-up or bit by bit?"
"It doesn't happen all at once. You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to the 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."
It's a unique twist of the Pinocchio story, but I think it is one that is psychologically deep in it's conversation.
For years we have been bombarded with what many consider as picture perfect models, couples, families or lifestyles. Yet despite some of us trying to achieve it, we are left dissatisfied.
Most of us realize the advertisements are fake. They're airbrushed. They're manipulated. They're calculated to the very color, angle, timing, and framing. It lacks authenticity. Which is why we now see ads trying to capture what is 'Real'.
Gone are the days of the pencil thin models, now we have "normal" models. We no longer show the typical blonde haired Barbie, now we have all races on display.
But, despite the attempts of the media to give us what is 'Real', the irony is, we don't know how to be "Real" in real life.
Many of us don't know how to get to that point in our life, when we don't care about being hurt, because we're always putting up a wall.
We hide behind our screen.
We hide behind our insecurities and fears.
We hide behind the protection of others.
We hide in our shell of a human body and are too afraid to be wounded and bleed.
The truth is we're afraid of being loved the right way. And yes, there is a right way to be loved.
It is as the story stated, when we are really loved, all our failures, the scars, the wounds, the brokenness will be found out about, yet it will be beautiful to the beholder.
And I think the reason many of us can resonate to this nursery story is because we desire this kind of love. At least, I do.
It is the kind of love that is freeing. It is boundless, deep and real. The possibility of pain is ever present, but due to the love present, it is mitigated if at all possible.
The funny thing is, we have been given this kind of love, so pure and perfect, but we often reject it.
It is the agape love in Christ. It is what He did on the cross that demonstrated that He was willing to be Real. He didn't care about being hurt because His love was unconditional for us. He believed that as He shared His love, our love would be manifested and multiplied.
His love was our example in loving others in a real, pure, uncomplicated, authentic way.
The question is whether, we want to be Real?
If so, we must be willing to let our guard down and allow ourselves to accept the right kind of love from the supportive people who have become a part of our life.
It is the only way we can become Real.