Tuesday, November 16, 2010
The Velveteen Woman
Most of us have read or heard of the childhood classic, The Velveteen Rabbit. Maybe you first heard the story snuggled in your mother's lap or like me, as an adult with a child snuggled in your lap. For me, The Velveteen Rabbit is a treasure I discovered in motherhood, rather than in my childhood. And like many children's books, the message carries a profound truth that resonates more with adults than with kids.
The story begins…
"There was once a velveteen rabbit, and in the beginning he was really splendid. He was fat and bunchy, as a rabbit should be; his coat was spotted brown and white, he had real thread whiskers, and his ears were lined with pink sateen. On Christmas morning, when he sat wedged in the top of the Boy's stocking, with a spring of holly between his paws, the effect was charming.
"The boy loved the rabbit…for at least two hours, but then he was put on the nursery shelf with all the other toys. Because he was velveteen, some of the more expensive toys snubbed him. Some of the toys boasted about being fashioned as smaller models of real things, such as boats and soldiers. But the rabbit didn't even know that there was such a thing as a real rabbit. He thought all were just as he was, stuffed with sawdust. But one night, the rabbit made a fascinating discovery.
"The Skin Horse had lived longer in the nursery than any of the others. He was so old that his brown coat was bald in patches and showed the seams underneath, and most of the hairs in his tail had been pulled out to string bead necklaces. He was wise, for he had seen a long succession of mechanical toys arrive to boast and swagger, and by-and-by break their mainsprings and pass away, and he knew that they were only toys, and would never turn into anything else…
"What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"
"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 real. 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 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."
The Velveteen Rabbit wasn't even sure what a rabbit was supposed to do. He just knew there had to be more to life than being filled with sawdust and sitting on a shelf.
Being real. That's what really matters. I don't want to wait until most of my hair has fallen out and I've lost my stuffing. I want to be real right now. So what if I don't look as shiny as the other toys in the nursery?
Yes, sometimes it is painful to become real. It takes courage. But until we do, we'll find our existence sitting on the shelves a dim reflection of the freedom and jubilant dance that God intended in the fields of life.
Dear Heavenly Father, I know that You want me to be real and honest with those around me. Jesus was. He never pretended to be something that He was not and He didn't pretend not to be something that He was. I am Your child with many faults and failures. I made mistakes in my past and will make mistakes in my future. I pray that I will always have the courage to be real with those around me and never participate in religious pretending because of concern over what others may think. I'm just me: saved, sealed, delivered!
In Jesus' Name,