“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.’
‘Does it hurt?’ asked the Rabbit.
‘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, The Velveteen Rabbit
It’s nearly Easter…my all time favorite holiday! I don’t really know what attracts me so much to the commercial side of Easter. I’m not a pastel kind of gal, but I simply adore lavender eggs, pretty pink baskets, and robin’s egg blue on my tabletop.
I have fond memories of Easter. It was always a happy, joyful day, and my Aunt Grace was known to spoil the baby of the family with a new lacy dress, patent leather shoes, white gloves, and a clutch purse to carry chocolates and mini treasures discovered under artificial grass.
Without cognition, I always knew there was something very special about this day. For me, Easter sparkled brighter than Christmas, but it took until adulthood to comprehend the enormity behind bunnies and baskets. The same was true for my understanding behind the story of The Velveteen Rabbit. My mom would read this story like there was something burrowed deeper than I could see, but it wasn’t until I read the pages to my own children that I grasped its full message.
What a discovery, as a young and insecure mother, to ferret out the truth that I too had been loved real, just like the Velveteen Rabbit! Through a growing relationship with Jesus, I understood that He’d been loving me for a long time. All the hurt of my life had worn my fur, but for a purpose. My shabbiness was beautiful. My loose joints moved to make a difference in this world.
I need to say something very important here!
We should not expose ourselves in authenticity from a place that has not been first loved real by Jesus!!
Filleting our heart to the world is not helpful when we bring our shabbiness from a broken, unhealed place with a hope that others will help us feel real. This will never work!!!
The Velveteen Rabbit was loved real by his owner, not from the other toys in the nursery!
I strongly believe that we are in dangerous territory when we seek validation from others, and in our growing era of “likes” and “comments” this concerns me. I am not without guilt, because I am certainly not perfect, but God’s call on me to be an open book for others to read comes from His leading, not because I long for acceptance.
Please hear this: I do not make my feelings public until I have first wrestled with God. This would be incredibly unfair of me because I would be using you, my audience, to fuel, or help heal a weakness. That is nothing short of manipulation and I think it’s cruel.
Hear me correctly… I am not claiming to be stronger than someone who just hopes to be built up by another. I’m often just as weak and insecure. That is why I need the grace and help of Jesus every moment of the day. The difference is that I choose to take my pieces of pain, ineptness, and sin to the only One who can fix me and then I speak or write about my journey in order to help another.
I would also add, however, that I haven’t perfected this, nor do I not need the help and prayer of others. My concern lies in where we seek this help. I believe it must come through a daily relationship with the Father and a small group of trusted family members and/or friends who lovingly hold us accountable. When we dabble outside this circle and look for unmet needs in wider arenas, such as social media, or online communication, this is where we become vulnerable.
I would add, as much as we need others in our lives for prayer and support, there can be an unhealthy level of accountability. Acknowledgement, praise, validation, and recognition, if fueled in unsafe levels from others instead of God Himself, is as deadly as a stocked liquor cabinet to the unaware alcoholic. We must ruthlessly check our motive and unmet need in the face of our relationships, as well as social connectors that feed this thirst.
One hundred likes on Instagram may satiate us on a good day, but most times we are left parched because the praises of man never satisfies.
Do I know my identity in Jesus?
I must be fully, 100% confident in who He says I am before I look to another to tell me who I am. If I have not gone there first, if I have not wrestled with my brokenness, insecurity, and fear at His feet before words hit the page, I will be buried in an avalanche of unmet expectations.
The world needs more people to live in this space. Can you imagine how incredible our relationships would be if we met with Jesus first, dealt with our identity in Him, and then opened ourselves from a place of authentic fullness to one another? What would that look like?
No more expectations.
No more disappointments.
No more manipulations.
No more need for validations.
Because all that would already be met in Him!
And on the flip side, instead of feeling like I need to “fix” someone (sometimes masked as prayer), I would see them. I would hear them. I would love them on their unique journey, wherever they may be, and I would trust God to take them all the way to end of their prepared road as He sees fit. They would not look to me to love them real because they’ve already experienced full love from their Creator, so any love we could give each other would enhance that realness.
All of this has nothing to do with Easter, and yet everything to do with Easter. Sure, I haven’t talked of a resurrection, but when I stand before a risen Lord in weakness, it is He who has already taken my inadequacy to the cross. It is when I walk from that place into a messy, complicated life, I can be authentic in strength.
No matter what I write, no matter what I reveal, no matter what dirt I unearth, no matter who responds to me, or who doesn’t, I am able, because He first loved me real.
How can you self-coach yourself on your own level of authenticity? Here are some helpful questions for private reflection:
*Who makes me feel real? If it is someone other than God, what do they do to cause this feeling? How will I feel real if they are no longer with me?
*Do I choose authenticity from a place of strength or weakness? Do I look for validation after I’ve shared a true piece of myself with another?
*How do I typically feel after I’ve been truly authentic with another? If I usually feel insecure or empty, what does this reveal about my authenticity?
*Do I wrestle with God over my limitations or do I look elsewhere to feel worthy?
*Do I trust God to walk the full journey of weakness with me, or am I impatient and look elsewhere when He seems silent?
*What can I do to place myself in the proper position for God to love me to this level of realness?
*Do I understand my true identity in Jesus? If not, how can I learn more about what He says about me?
Photo credit: Flickr (Creative Commons)
Kim’s signature closing:
Welcome new readers, and those well loved! My blogs are focused on authentic Christianity and real life decisions. History proves that my readers interact most comfortably through an email exchange, rather than a public comment. You are always welcome to find me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I welcome your questions or comments and will do my best to respond in a timely manner.
My deepest desire is for you to know Jesus real. He is not just a positive thought, a model to follow, or a comfortable space to hear love. He is life. Adventure. He can be the very air you breathe with just one decision. I never knew Him until I ended up sitting on a dirty field in India. He met me there, and that gripping tale of redemption is found in my life’s work: The Chance to Choose: Become Who You Were Meant to Be One Choice At a Time. I’d love all my reader’s to know the story. It is there where you’ll understand me, and the One I serve, best. Click on printed/signed copy, or Kindle version (also available on Nook and Apple iBook) to purchase, and if you need more, check out the book trailer below: