"What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day...
"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."
"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."
I use this quote from the Velveteen Rabbit time and again with the people whom I minister to. I also refer them to John Eldredge's Waking the Dead: The Glory of a Heart Fully Alive.
And I believe in this process, this pursuit, with all my heart. Heart. The Heart fully alive. Becoming and being real. It hurts. It hurts so bad sometimes because it's hard to acknowledge the harsh reality of life, to admit unmet needs, or to embrace unfulfilled longings in this fallen imperfect world. The alternative is to deny and ignore the heart through fervent activity and busy-ness, to kill it with various addictions, to pretend all is right with the world. There is a pain in both of those paths.
As author and speaker Bunny Wilson says, "In this world we will have suffering. We choose whether we suffer for Satan and reap his reward, or suffer for Christ and reap His reward." I know that most of us want the latter but the former often seems so much easier because it's a 'quick' fix and it doesn't seem to require quite as much pain...in the moment.
"A righteous person may fall seven times, but he gets up again." Proverbs 24:17
"When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong, Because the LORD is the One who holds his hand." Psalms 37:24
I'm so glad that the LORD holds our hands. I'm so thankful that because of Him we get up again. We can hardly believe that He doesn't see us as ugly when we fall. Instead He's loved us 'shabby' and is not about to let us go!!! Because of Him and IN Him we are Real.