Friday, December 5, 2008

It Happens Bit by Bit

Jim and I had a pretty traditional wedding with one exception. In addition to Scripture readings, we had one of my college advisors read an excerpt--about "becoming real"--from The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams. For whatever reason, I first read this book as a college student, not as a child. At that age, Jim and I prided ourselves on being transparent, vulnerable, honest, real. He liked me best without make up; I knew he was no poser.

I read the book to our kids when they were little and choked up at the new significance of this allegorical tale. It is a parable that goes way beyond the ostensibly sentimental story. It offers numerous applications on acceptance, motherhood, the power of love, and unconditional relationship. So many that another book, The Velveteen Principles, has been written by Toni Raiten-D'Antonio to analyze and put it into adult terminology.

Listen between the lines to Meryl Streep's sensitive reading of it with music by George Winston. When read with integrity, life experience, and heartfelt belief it still moves me.

The Lord has done a great deal of humbling in both Jim and I since 1986. We thought we were "real" then, let me tell you, it's all relative. Some wear and tear comes from the inevitable passage of time, relocating frequently, and becoming parents. Even more comes from being the responsible party for someone who is impulsive, inappropriate, embarrassing and at the same time, naive, well-intentioned and so precious to us. Whether you have a "spirited child," a "challenging child," a "special needs child," an "out-of-sync child," or an "indigo child," it is a high maintenance job! We are like EMT's or firemen who have acclimated to crisis mode. We become light sleepers, quick thinkers, fast actors, and smooth operators. No matter what happens we remain calm, consider all possible outcomes, and drive carefully but quickly with our sirens blaring.

I think the Biblical word for "real" would be sanctified. If the velveteen rabbit was saved by the boy from being left outside all night, we are saved by God and redeemed from the pit. Then bit by bit, loving and being loved to tatters, progressive sanctification happens. As we die to sin and live for Christ, we become more like Him. It is not about our salvation; it’s about how we live after we’ve been saved.

“Does it hurt?" “Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. You bet. People laugh. People point. People blame. You get hit. You get bit. You are tired. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.” “Does it happen all at once,” he asked, “or bit by bit?” He will be fine. We can do this. I know he'll get better. Why me? What do I do? I can't do this. What will the future bring?

“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. 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 those things don’t matter at all, because once you are real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

The skin horse shares, "It was the boy's uncle who made me real." For us, it is Jesus who makes us real. Real enough to run wild as march hares into eternity, liberated from sin and the sawdust of our fleshly existence here. It is He who understands when others don't and loved us enough to shed his own blood in our place. We can't be ugly anymore. We are a new creation. God sees us through the blood of Christ and in His perfection. No longer shabby sinners but beautiful, perfected, sanctified, clean as the driven snow, pure like the lamb of God. Keep it real, friends.

Your new life, which is your real life—even though invisible to spectators—is with Christ in God. He is your life. When Christ (your real life, remember) shows up again on this earth, you'll show up, too—the real you, the glorious you. Colossians 3:2-4

But we know that when he appears,
we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure. 1 John 3:2-3

God, who got you started in this spiritual adventure, shares with us the life of his Son and our Master Jesus. He will never give up on you. Never forget that.
1 Corinthians 1:9 The Message


  1. Beautiful. Inspiring. I am so touched by this tonight. Thank you for your words, Andrea. Thank you, Jesus, for your transforming love.

  2. Wish I could be more original, but I couldn't be more real than to say ditto what rhemashope said.