REAL

adjauthentic, genuine, relating to something AS IT IS-not merely as it may be described

“What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you?” Luke 9:25 MSG

In the magical Disney story of Pinocchio, the lonely toymaker Gepetto wishes for his wooden puppet to become a real boy.  Through a series of bad decisions and deceit, Pinocchio learns about being honest and unselfish and discovers his conscience.  Finally, the mischievous puppet is able to prove himself worthy and become a real boy.

But what about us?  Like Pinocchio, do we find it easier to just go along with the temptation to run and hide sometimes?  My nose starts to grow just thinking about the pretending I did today…

I might have stretched the truth about how well things are going.

I might have acted like I was fine, when honestly I was desperate for a kind word.

I might have said something with a passive-aggressive smile, when actually I was feeling angry and hurt.

And, I just might have talked behind someone's back instead of having an honest conversation.

We all pretend a little bit.  We portray ourselves the way we want to be seen. The way we imagine that others think we should be.  It’s tricky.  Because letting our world see just the smiling, capable, "always-in-control" us feels so much safer than just being real.

But it's not.  

We lose something valuable in the facade. 

We lose the opportunity to grow, to connect, to be known and loved for who we are. We lose relationships.

We lose ourselves.

But unlike Pinnochio, we don't have to prove ourselves worthy before we can be real.  The real you, the real me is found in the grace-filled eyes of Jesus. Flaws? Yep. Failures? Those too. Fears and desires and struggles? He knows. And he created each one of us with a beautiful purpose that requires our genuine, unique, what-you-see-is-what-you-get, REAL self.

Jesus asks us the question because he wants us to understand that there is nothing worth trading our selves for.  No approval, no job, no grade, no recognition, no image is worth that much. 

He desires for us to experience being truly known and loved by him and by the people in our lives. Because of his open arms, his renewing spirit, his unfailing love, we don't have to pretend anymore.

Let’s invite Him in:  Jesus is pretty taken with you–exactly the way you are. He understands that it takes hard work and a whole lot of courage to embrace the real you. Let him help you. He will reveal to you and to everyone else the unique, creative, charming, authentic YOU that is so precious to him.

You are loved. No strings attached. REAL-LY.