When Love Becomes Real

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”

Ezekiel 36:26 (NKJV)  


Growing up my Mom would read to me the story of, “The Velveteen Rabbit” a children’s book that chronicles the story of a stuffed rabbits desire to become real through the love of his owner. My favorite part of the story is the dialog between the Skin Horse and the Velveteen Rabbit that goes like this,

“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.”

When I consider how hard it is for any of us to be totally real, I am reminded of something that Dr. James Dobson, a licensed marriage and family psychologist shared years ago on his nationally syndicated radio program on a segment about friendship. During the program he shared something I have never forgotten. He said that if each of us has one person in this world who we can bare our heart and soul without reservation then we are most blessed, as the majority of people on this planet don’t feel as if they have even one person in this life that they feel comfortable enough with to truly be themselves. That is so sad in a world of nearly eight billion people.

I read a quote on social media that said something like, “We all have a chapter in our lives we don’t want anyone to read.” The reason is pretty clear. We are afraid of what others will think of us if they were to read the chapter of our lives that we would just as soon forget. None of us wants to be rejected or suffer the loss of someone we care and love and I guess thats one reason why C.S. Lewis penned these words, “why love if it hurts so much?”

Think about it. Wasn’t it Jesus Himself who said, “But knowing their thoughts, said, "Why do you think evil in your hearts?”  Jesus knows we have a predisposition to think the worst rather than think the best.  I suppose that’s why in John 2:24 the apostle notes, “But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men”. No doubt Jesus knows we are fickle. Maybe that is why the apostle Paul wrote the 13th chapter of 1 Corinthians 13 to begin with? You know the chapter, it’s affectionately referred to as the chapter of “Love” in our Bible.  

Paul wrote 1 Corinthians 13 to teach us that God’s love is not reciprocating, that it is actually, “one way”. To paraphrase the story of the Velveteen Rabbit and the power of “one way love” think of it like this. When someone loves you for a long, long time and not just because they receive some benefit from you, but instead they just choose to love you, in time you will feel safe enough with them to be yourself. And then and only then will you be real. I am pretty certain most people would agree with that. Becoming real takes time.

Today is our chance to help people become real, to seek to love people like God loves people, not for our benefit but for theirs. We have an opportunity to love people today not because they are lovable, but knowing instead that in our loving them they have a chance to become lovable too. Remember, real isn’t how we were made, real is what we become when someone loves us for a long long time. And just think, God has loved each of us for a long long time!  

“The LORD has appeared of old to me, saying: "Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.”

Jeremiah 31:3 (NKJV)


Michael Osthimer





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