Last time, I told you about Dave Cowens, an NBA (US National Basketball Association) star who disappeared one day on a quest for solitude and meaning. I noted that to “find yourself” requires that you take time to look. And it’s essential if you want to be a whole person.
The word is real. It takes time and it usually hurts.
The Velveteen Rabbit is a classy book for children with a message for adults. In it is a revealing nursery dialogue between a new toy rabbit and an old skin horse. As they are lying side by side one day,
Rabbit asks Horse, “What is REAL?”… “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 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 often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or 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.”
Take a long look at you, suggests Skin Horse. Going through a lot of activities? Staying busy? In a hurry most of the time? Spinning around the squirrel cage? Seldom pausing to ask why? Still reluctant to be loved… to be real? Still keeping a distance between yourself and your family members, friends, and colleagues? Still substituting doing for being?
It’ll never satisfy. You cannot play cover-up forever. “Have a heart of compassion, being kind, tender, transparent, gentle, patient, forgiving, loving, and lovable.” All those things spell R-E-A-L.
I’m certain that’s what Cowens was looking for. He may not have found it in a few weeks, but it was certainly worth the effort. Losing your hair takes time, and it’s pretty painful to have your eyes drop out and your joints get loose. But in the long run, that’s the only way to be. REAL.
Excerpt taken from Come before Winter and Share My Hope by Charles R. Swindoll. Copyright © 1985, 1988, 1994 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide.