“Are you real?” my counselor asked me, about 3 sessions into my journey of healing. I hated that question. Actually, I hated the response I felt was true inside. I was painfully aware of the lack of integrity in my life – meaning: “I am the same on the outside as I am on the inside.” Too much energy was being spent building a people-pleasing facade. The question made me uncomfortable.
By my next appointment I came armed with three simple questions:
1. Is it possible to be the same on the outside as you are on the inside?
2. If it is, do you think it’s possible for me?
3. If you think it’s possible for me, how long will it take?
And there-in lay the map for my own “heart’s pilgrimage” (Psalm 84:5).
The Bible began to make more sense to me; it really applied to my own life:
For the Lord sees not as man sees;
for man looks on the outward appearance,
but the Lord looks on the heart.
~ I Samuel 16:7
Behold, You desire truth in the inner being;
make me therefore to know wisdom in my inmost heart.
~ Psalm 51:6
Sometimes wisdom can be found in the simplest places. Ever read “The Velveteen Rabbit”? Hopefully someone loved, snuggled, and read it to you when you were small. It sits on my book shelf with my most profound, scholarly reads…
“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day, of the Skin Horse, who had lived longer in the nursery than any of the others. 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. “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 is 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 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 when you are REAL you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
“I suppose you are REAL?” said the Rabbit. And then he wished he had not said it, for he thought the Skin Horse might be sensitive. But the Skin Horse only smiled.
“The Boy’s Uncle made me REAL,” he said. “That was a great many years ago; but once you are REAL you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always.”
The Rabbit sighed. He thought it would be a long time before this magic called REAL happened to him. He longed to become REAL, to know what it felt like; and yet he wished that he could become it without these uncomfortable things happening to him.
BECOMING REAL :
• takes being really loved
• sometimes hurts
• can take a long time
But, once you are REAL:
• You can’t be ugly (except to those who don’t understand).
• You can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always.
So, have you set your heart on this pilgrimage? This journey of becoming REAL-LY the person you were made to be? It will entail some weeping, for sure (Psalm 84:6). It will entail some forgiving of those who haven’t loved you unconditionally, just as you are(Psalm 27:10, Deuteronomy 5:16). It will entail finding a REAL relationship with The One who made, knows, and loves who you are, unconditionally (Jeremiah 31:3). It will entail giving up people-pleasing ways (Proverbs 29:25). It will entail daily praying something like Psalm 139:23-24:
Search me [thoroughly], O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there is any wicked or hurtful way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.