A few Sundays ago, our pastor reminded me of a part in one of my favorite stories, The Velveteen Rabbit, where the beloved stuffed bunny just wants to be real. He’s tired of not having the freedom that real bunnies have and he doesn’t think he’s anything special. He sees himself as just a stuffed bunny that can’t run or jump or play. He just sits.

His good old friend, the Skin Horse, sits with him one afternoon in the nursery, where all the toys are kept.

“ ‘Real isn’t how you’re 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 have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of you 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.’”

A few days ago, I was talking to my mom on the phone and the conversation was hard. She’s lovingly been transporting a very dear, and very young, family member who is fighting a rough battle with a very selfish cancer to treatments. A selfish cancer she fears will take her from her beloved husband and very young child ­– but we know it won’t and we pray like crazy.

Yet where our sweet family member is, in this almost last week of radiation, the pain is so great she feels like she won’t make it.

But the truth is . . . What’s hurts us is usually what heals us.

Before there can be healing, there’s pain. Unfortunately, this pain can be unfathomable and trick us into thinking it’s over when it’s really just the beginning – the beginning of our journey of becoming Real.

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So when we’re faced with someone in the process of being made Real, of becoming, we can only do small things with great love.

And those who are doing small things with great love are usually the ones who have already been made Real. The Real who are still becoming . . . who never stop becoming.

My mom isn’t caring for orphans in Africa. She isn’t secretly delivering Bibles to those in the Middle East. And she isn’t rescuing girls from human trafficking.

I am so thankful for those who are. They’re my heroes.

But I’m just as thankful for those driving cancer warriors to treatment, those visiting lonely forgottens in nursing homes and for those encouraging the mom who’s so discouraged she wants to run far, far away. They’re my heroes, too.

We may not all be able to be on the front-line of glamorous mission work but every single one of us can be on the front-line of small things with great love.

Because all of those small things add together to become big when we help someone else become Real.

It’s part of the becoming.

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

What small things can you do today to show great love?

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