A friend posted this quote from The Velveteen Rabbit on her Instagram a long while back and I have tried to put into words how it’s made me feel and I just haven’t been successful. Little does my friend know, but it made me stop, take a breath, and have a good cry. The Velveteen Rabbit was a stuffed rabbit that was turned into a real rabbit through feeling love from his child owner. The child becomes sick and all his toys from his room must be burned, including the rabbit. But love saved the rabbit from being burned with the other toys and gave him the freedom to join the real rabbits in the forest. This made me think of my God loving me enough to save me from death, and offering me a new life if I only show his love to others. If I only am real with others.
Being real, like really real, is not an easy undertaking for anyone. That’s why we all don’t try it. It’s so much easier to sweeten up reality and delete words and retype them a hundred times until they say the perfect thing everyone wants to hear. We all want to just hang with the cool kids like we’ve belonged there the whole time.
But I’m just not a cool kid no matter how hard I try. I have never felt the sureness of truly fitting in with the crowd. Ever. It always feels forced and awkward. Some people just don’t seem to get me and that just has to be fine, but it hasn’t always been. It actually will eat at me and make me cry and angry and question my whole heart and mind and face and clothes and how I mother and how I speak and how I write and how I live. But maybe they are never meant to understand me. Maybe I just have to keep on loving them anyway.
Loving people that don’t love like you is real hard. Loving people that don’t show love is hard. Loving people that don’t love themselves is hard. Loving people that don’t love Jesus is hard. Loving people that only love themselves is hard. Loving people is exhausting. Your eyes get tired of looking for the good, and your arms get tired of reaching out and wrapping around people that may never do the same for you. But love is real. Love is the most real thing you can do for another person. Love is what we are here to do, what we are called to do because of what love did for us, and love is the only thing that will save us from ourselves.
Love is Jesus upon a cross, held there by the sins of people that struggled to love. People that look a lot like you and me. We struggle to love and feel loved because we are real human. We want things to go our way, make sense, and just go about our day. So when we meet people that love for real we think there must be something wrong with them, they must have some other motive, there is no way their feelings can be real. Who would love like this, expecting nothing in return? Who would give up their time and hearts and selves like this, only to be scarred and burned? Love can feel a lot like hurt and look a lot like work. But I think I’d rather be real and love the best that I can than be who I’m not and never hold Jesus’ nail-scarred hand.