“Once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.” – Margery Margery Williams – “The Velveteen Rabbit”
My last post ended with these words, “Be your most real and best self. Be happy with who you are and make no apologies for it!” As I wrote that last line, a word jumped out at me, I mean it almost literally jumped off the computer screen and sparked an idea in my mind. Believe it or not I was immediately inspired with an idea for this post. I was inspired by just one word. That word was real.
I shared in that last post about our tendency to lean towards being superficial and hiding those things that make us vulnerable and ultimately our true selves. It really bothers me that we often hold so much of ourselves inside, neatly tucked away. In addition, many of us want to appear strong at all times and never show our scars or weaknesses. We must seem well poised and in control, even when we are hurting and sirens are blaring inside us. I can certainly attest to this. May I suggest, that this need to be poised and in control, this fear of exposing ourselves too much, is just one of the many contributors to depression and a host of other mental health issues. Suffering in silence, bearing our burdens alone, hiding and suppressing our true selves, could never be healthy.
I believe that there is something liberating about letting go of the façade, and even choosing to bare our scars. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not suggesting to you bare your soul to everyone you meet. You can however, start by being more open and honest about yourself, even your struggles and your scars, to those in your circle. Just open up. In other words, be real. Not some fake version of yourself. I believe this is the beginning of building stronger and healthier relationships, and even building new ones. Genuine relationships are built on self-disclosure.
The first time I ever heard of the children’s story, “The Velveteen Rabbit” by Margery Williams, was when reading a story by Amy Potts. Amy’s story is published in the book, “You Belong.” In her story titled, “Hide my Scars?” Amy wrote about the very noticeable scars on her arms from a couple surgeries and the suggestion of an acquaintance that she keep them covered, because they bothered her. Amy noted that she was a bit angry and self-conscious at first. She questioned if she should wear long sleeves in the heat of summer just to spare someone the appearance of a couple of scars.
Amy pointed out in her story that we all have scars; some visible and some invisible, and that none of us can get through life without scars. She referenced the well-known story in the Bible of who most of us call doubting Thomas (see John chapter 20). Thomas would not believe that Jesus had been resurrected unless he saw for himself the scars of Jesus. Jesus’ scars brought Thomas to believe. It is okay for people to see our scars, being able to see our wounds might be what makes us real, says Amy. She ends by saying, “our scars, whether internal or not, may be the very thing to help someone see that you are who you say you are – and that the God who has brought healing to your life is who he says he is. Don’t hide your scars”.
So moved was I by Amy’s story and the quote she used from “The Velveteen Rabbit”, I looked up the book on the internet, found a free electronic copy and read the entire thing. The book is about the desire of a stuffed rabbit to become real through the love of his owner. I have extracted to share with you, what for me is the most significant part of the story, a conversation between a wise old horse and the rabbit.
“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day…”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.”
Not everyone would appreciate your scars. Your scars may even make some people uncomfortable, but remember this – your scars make you real. When you love others, truly love them, in a non-judgmental way, you are encouraging and helping them become real; you give them the freedom to be themselves. Your scars, should make you proud, they are evidence that you conquered! Your scars, add to your tremendous beauty! Let your beauty shine through like the first rays of brilliant sunlight at the dawning of a new day. Let’s bare our scars! Let’s keep it real!😊