TEDDY BEAR . .TEDDY BEAR . . .
So have you got a favourite teddy bear? Have you had it all your life? Of-course it might not be a teddy bear . . . …… 37 years ago, following a business trip to Spain, my husband brought home a toy lamb for our daughter, who was not then one year old. She loved that lamb (named ʻLambieʼ) – and she used to rub his tail between her ﬁngers when she was going to sleep. My mother replaced that tail several times! Lambie obviously got grubby because he was so well loved. Once, having washed him (with growing trepidation over the years!), I hung him on the washing line by his ears. Our daughter was furious with me! As he got older, Lambieʼs fur got thinner and thinner, then one of his eyes fell out. Some while later my Mum thought she would put that right, and sewed on another eye. Well that was clearly the wrong thing to do, and following her granddaughterʼs distraught reaction, the new eye had to come off again. But it didnʼt matter how grubby, how thin and scruffy that lamb got, it didnʼt matter what dropped off, nor how much he had lost his loveliness, our daughter loved that lamb with all her heart. (Loved so much he went to university with her, and many years on, is still with her now.) Writing that reminded me of an extract from a childrenʼs book The Velveteen Rabbit:
“The Skin Horse had lived longer in the nursery than any of the others. He was so old that his brown coat was bald in patches and showed the seams underneath, and most of the hairs in his tail had been pulled out to string bead necklaces. ….. “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.” “I suppose you are real?” said the Rabbit. And then he wished he had not said it, for he thought the Skin Horse might be sensitive. But the Skin Horse only smiled. “The Boy’s Uncle made me Real,” he said. “That was a great many years ago; but once you are Real you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always.”
― Margery Williams Bianco, abridged from The Velveteen Rabbit
Most of us will probably remember loving a teddy (or an alternative). That teddy may well have travelled with you through all the homes, stages and milestones of your life. It will probably have been given to you from someone special. It wonʼt have mattered how scruffy and threadbare that bear became, your love will have remained absolutely unconditional.
And so it is with God . . .
If you are feeling a little shabby, maybe even a little baggy – take heart! Remember this – it doesnʼt matter what happens to us, which bits have dropped off or if your joints are a bit loose, nor does it matter which bits have become rather frayed – it doesnʼt matter if your hair has been loved off (or how long and straggly it has become!) – none of it matters at all – because you are Real. You are REAL to God, and to God you can never be ugly.
The love of God, that love of the Father who created us, is unconditional. That doesnʼt mean that there isnʼt disappointment when we go astray – it means that He loves us despite our failings and our fears, He loves us despite our unbelief and doubt, He loves us even though we fall short of all of which we are capable.
We can never be made unreal …. . . . being real lasts for always. Which means that ʻnothing can separate us from that Loveʼ. “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord”. (Romans 8 vv 31-39)
With my love to you all, to your families, and to your teddies ….
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Thank you Lord for loving us despite our signs of wear and tear. Thank you for seeing beyond our imperfections and shabbiness, and for believing in our potential . Help us to see others through your loving eyes and to see loveliness where others might disregard. Help us Lord, to be worthy of your unconditional love. Amen