“Becoming Real 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.” Margery Williams Bianco in The Velveteen Rabbit

I have a Real bear. He’s been through a lot. He’s missing an eye and his ear’s hanging on by a thread, but he’s mine and he’s beautiful.

I’m beginning to think that the negatives in our lives are requirements for being Real (and beautiful). We don’t become Real in spite of the negatives; we become Real because of them. Working through them gives us substance. Learning from them makes us better. Including them makes us whole.

Once, a man named Simon invited Jesus over for dinner. The town harlot heard about it and showed up, weeping, raining tears on Jesus’s feet and anointing them with some expensive perfume. The tsk-tsks abounded, but Jesus said, “She was forgiven many, many sins, so she is very, very grateful.” Then he said something remarkable to her. “Go in peace.”

And with that, I’m guessing she knew she had become Real.

I’m looking at my bear right now. I’m not going to sew a new button on for an eye. I’m not going to stitch up that ear. I love him just the way he is.

Maybe that’s the way God loves us.

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