“In the meantime—let the pain be. It’s likely making you even more beautiful.”
Then I am beautiful. Because I sure do feel the pain.
I am beautiful in that Velveteen Rabbit sort of way. You remember this beautiful classic children’s story by Margery Williams, right?
“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. “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 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.”
“Because once you are Real you can’t be ugly.”
Then I am beautiful. I walk with a limp.
The Rabbit sighed. He thought it would be a long time before this magic called Real happened to him. He longed to become Real, to know what it felt like; and yet the idea of growing shabby and losing his eyes and whiskers was rather sad. He wished that he could become it without these uncomfortable things happening to him.
Beauty is uncomfortable. Vulnerability is uncomfortable. Every synonym of vulnerability feels uncomfortable. But vulnerability is the birthplace of so much good. Dr. Brene’ Brown said, surmising this from her research, “Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity.” (Daring Greatly, p. 34.) All of those words are beautiful. All of those words are desired in my life.
As I wrote that I got a kick in my gut. I want those words in my life but I also feel the pain. If I say I want those words in my life, the pain is a part of it. Not to wallow in it. But to live out the beauty of that pain. In the meantime—let the pain be. It’s likely making you even more beautiful. Pain is the beginning.
I know some of you are struggling that I said I was beautiful. To you that statement reeks of vanity. It also reeks of “that image” that is thrust upon us from magazines and Hollywood and now social media. “That image” no one can ever live up to. No one can because we don’t live in Photoshopworld. Scarcity speaks loudly.
Yet we can call a sunset beautiful. Or a beautiful rose bloom. Or that expertly created cupcake. All of these are creations. There is innate beauty in a creation.
You are created. There is beauty in you.
Do you know how that beauty seeps out?
By being real. Not botoxed. Not by botoxing the pain of our lives. Not by putting on that smile and saying “I’m fine.” It seeps out when your decisions of bravery define you. When you choose vulnerability over numbing. When you allow the beauty of pain to shape you. This shape often has the form of Jesus. “In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation.” (1 Peter 5:10.)
Do you know who is not beautiful?
Bitter people. Angry people. Numbed people. Botoxed people. People who refuse to show vulnerability. I’m sure you just had some images of people in your life flash into your mind. Yes, those people.
Pain has beauty in it.
Weeks passed, and the little Rabbit grew very old and shabby, but the Boy loved him just as much. He loved him so hard that he loved all his whiskers off, and the pink lining to his ears turned grey, and his brown spots faded. He even began to lose his shape, and he scarcely looked like a rabbit any more, except to the Boy. To him he was always beautiful, and that was all that the little Rabbit cared about. He didn’t mind how he looked to other people, because the nursery magic had made him Real, and when you are Real shabbiness doesn’t matter.
There is your beauty. There is my beauty.
In the story there is a beautiful happy ending for the Velveteen Rabbit. There is one for you too. One of Holy Spirit magic that is ours because we choose to trust God so we can live beyond human limitations. “That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. (“Yeah, right…it doesn’t feel this way,” says me too often.) Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18.)
In the meantime—let the pain be. It’s likely making you even more beautiful.
(All Velveteen Rabbit quotes are from http://digital.library.upenn.edu/women/williams/rabbit/rabbit.html)
(Photo credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Dog_The_Teddy_Bear.jpg and http://photopin.com/free-photos/cupcake)