The Velveteen Rabbit is one of my favorite childhood stories. It’s about a stuffed animal who desires to be real through the love of his kid owner. Throughout the book, he is on a journey to find out what really makes a toy become alive.
Below is one of the most famous passages of the entire book.
“’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.”
Wow! Who would’ve thought that a children’s story could have such an adult theme?
When I read this passage, it reminds me that our authentic “me” is much more important than the “me” that we present to the world. Sometimes, we don’t recognize the beauty in who we really are, so we mask it by manufacturing a porcelain doll version of ourselves – a version who cannot be broken, unpretty, or even be a little rough around the edges.
But who are we really trying to convince: other people or ourselves? When we look in the mirror, who is it that we want to see staring back at us?
I believe the passage above is meant for each of us who desire to have stronger relationships. But understand this: Before we can have a relationship with others we must first have a relationship with God and then a relationship with ourselves.
Relationship with God: Having a relationship with God means that we don’t hide from Him. We confess our deepest desires, fears, and thoughts with Him so that He can love us through it.
Relationship with ourselves: Similarly, having a relationship with ourselves means that we accept who we are and where we are. We are honest with ourselves at all times, and we work hard to be okay with just “plain ol’ me” – ALL of me.
We cannot have have one without the other; however, having a relationship with God allows us to have more of an authentic relationship with ourselves. It is then – and only then – that we become real.
Therefore, let us take the advice of a childhood story and live as if we are confident of two things:
- I will be my longest relationship
- God will be my greatest love