Looking in from the other side, sometimes all I can see is what it will cost me.
When we were planning to move across the country, it was hard to cling to the hope Jesus whispered to my heart for what would come. All I could see were the boxes, the good-byes, the loss, the travel with a one-year-old and all the crying (for me mostly, but our girl did her fair share at different points too.)
When I was pregnant with our daughter, it felt hard to imagine the goodness of a third family member. Some days all I could see was the sleep deprivation, the baby gear, the inconvenience, the loss of date nights and couple time (which I’m happy to report I was quite wrong about.)
But beyond any of those, I imagine becoming the person Jesus wants me to be and think of all the suffering, the pain and hardship I’ll have to endure.
And in the midst of my calculations of benefit and risk and cost, Jesus asks me to put my calculator aside. He asks me to stop speculating and guessing and measuring. He asks me to trust him with my story. Jesus doesn’t always show me what good will come out of the hard. He doesn’t tell me the specifics of why it will be worth it. He says I will have to lose my life in order to keep it. My heart asks if I will trust him with all I hold dear.
It is hard to set aside the risk calculator and shut my eyes, opening my hands wide to whatever Jesus wants to take out or put into them. Some days all I want to do is clench them up tight. But I know, deep down, this doesn’t get me want I want. This doesn’t make me into the person I was created to be. I truly believe that it will be worth it, even if all I can see is how much it will cost me.
I love the story of the Velveteen Rabbit. It strikes a chord in my heart as the Velveteen Rabbit is ushered into the nursery. Once there, the rabbit also asks what it will cost him to be Real. The Skin Horse is honest with him. He says it will cost him quite a lot. He is beautiful and plump and new now. If he becomes Real, his fur will be worn and he may lose his whiskers and his eyes may fall out. But the Skin horse promises that it is worth it.
Becoming who we were meant to be is always worth it.
August 10’s entry of Streams in the Desert recounts the story of Lazarus dying. “In the forefront of this marvelous chapter stands the affirmation, “Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus,” as if to teach us that at the very heart and foundation of all God’s dealings with us, however dark and mysterious they may be, we must dare to believe in and assert the infinite, unmerited, and unchanging love of God. Love permits pain.”
Whew, that last line makes my heart tremble. Love permits pain.
As I look at the story of the Velveteen Rabbit, I see love and pain dancing together. Love allows pain, because it knows that it is part of the process of becoming who we were meant to be. Love looks beyond the present to the bigger picture. Love allows temporary discomfort and heartache in exchange for the beauty and glory of becoming Real.
Too often I mistake painful circumstances with the idea that I am unloved and unseen by Jesus. But I think that nothing could be farther from the truth. It is because I am loved that Jesus permits pain in my life. He loves me too much to leave me shiny and clean on a shelf, unused and unseen. He wants my fur to become mussed. He wants my hair to be loved off. He is okay with my joints getting loose and my appearance becoming shabby. He knows that these things don’t matter in comparison with becoming Real. He wants better for me than just looking good. He wants me to be used and seen and loved. He wants me to the person he meant me to be.
When I read the Velveteen Rabbit, I see Jesus in the Skin Horse who speaks truth and is kind to the rabbit. I see Jesus in the boy who loves the rabbit as he is. I see Jesus in the fairy at the end who makes the rabbit into the creature he was always meant to be. I see Jesus in my own life in so many ways. In the Scripture I read, the friends who are kind, in the Shepherd’s voice that only my heart can hear, I see Jesus loving me.
As I sit and think about this dear story about a rabbit, my heart knows that Jesus is asking me to trust him with what it will cost me to become the person I’m meant to be. He is asking me to believe that he loves me. He is asking me to see pain as a way that he works for those he loves. He is asking me to believe that he is good and kind. He is asking me to believe that he loves me too much to leave me as I am.
Today I am choosing to look at the love in Jesus’ eyes instead of holding tightly to my calculator. Some days are better than others. Some days fear seizes my heart and I doubt whether there is love behind the pain. But today, I’m asking for the courage to look for love instead of cost. I’m asking for the courage to become Real.
Dear readers, I found a lovely copy of this dear book when I was at our library’s yearly book sale on Sunday (where I was mistaken for a library employee while looking at books. Such a high compliment! “Do you work here?” “No, but I wish I did!”) As a small thank you for reading, I’ll be giving this copy of the Velveteen Rabbit away. For a chance to have it sent to you, just do one of the following:
- write a comment on the blog
- share any of my blog posts on facebook (and tag me so I know you did it)
- subscribe to the blog (the button is on the side)
I’ll pick a winner in next week, after we welcome November to our calendars. Thanks for reading, friends. I’m so grateful for you.