“What is real?” asks The Velveteen Rabbit in the wonderful story by Margery Williams.
And the Skin Horse answers, “When a child loves you for a long, long time … really loves you, then you become Real.”
So I must be real now, because two children have really loved me all their lives.
As the rabbit discovered, being real is a two sided thing. There is the deep happiness of knowing yourself loved and needed by a child. But children grow up. And then there is the sudden shock of not being needed: of being left.
When I walked back into the house after dropping off my youngest daughter at college, the emptiness rushed at me, into me, and howled there.
Among other things, I was afraid that I would go back to not being Real.
I was only Real to them.
In the story it is also true. The rabbit is only real to the boy – until the fairy changes him. Ultimately he becomes truly Real.
I believe God will change me too, in one great act; but I think He also means for me to be changing all along.
Even here, on this side of Heaven, I am not yet as Real as He means me to be.