Eliza Doolittle and Me

eliza dolittle
If you’ve lived for very long, you’ve likely experienced something traumatic. Oh, maybe you didn’t have open heart surgery or a near-death experience, but somewhere along the line you’ve gone through a “dark night of the soul.”  Whether it was a physical challenge, an emotional nightmare or a spiritual crisis of faith, it’s not a comfortable place to reside!

I remember being bed-ridden for a year with a debilitating disc degeneration. After several months, unwelcome thoughts began to plague me; thoughts like, “I don’t want to live like this; I can see why people commit suicide.”  A year earlier, even a few weeks earlier, I would have vehemently denied I would ever be in such a depressed state, susceptible to such despair!

Sure, I might have been somewhat neurotic and insecure, but believed I was reasonably well adjusted, a life-long believer and follower of Christ.  Lying on the couch in traction, I felt like Eliza Doolittle from “My Fair Lady” protesting to Professor Higgins in her strong Cockney accent, “I’m a good girl, I am!”  In other words, this shouldn’t happen to me!

But Eliza had lessons to learn, and so did I.  Here’s a few of mine.179335356

1. Sometimes you need to ask for help.

I couldn’t do the dishes, vacuum the floor, wash clothes, prepare meals, and I was off work for that entire year.  But I was too proud to ask for help.

That pride-filled spirit came from a long line of “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” kind of people.  My parents lived through the Great Depression.  My mother’s family piled the family car high with kids and possessions and headed to California, seeking work in the fruit orchards; John Steinbeck’s book, The Grapes of Wrath, could have been written about them.  When they returned to Oklahoma, my grandfather became a bootlegger, producing homemade whiskey in a backwoods still.  The Creel family did it all by themselves!

My father entered the “CCC” job program instituted after the Depression to help provide work for desperate people across the country.  For as long as they lived, my parents scrimped, saved and survived – The Sutton family did it all by themselves!

That’s something to be proud of, of course.  However, the accompanying message I grew up with was: “Don’t ask for anything; do it yourself!”  I carried that message too far.  It became Pride, with a Capital P.  From that came another bit of schooling:

2. Sometimes what you grow up believing is not necessarily a good thing. 522748223

Eliza Doolittle grew up believing the most she could ever achieve was to have her own flower shop.  Like Eliza, when our beliefs put such limitations on us, it takes something big to get our attention!  For Eliza, that meant a prolonged time of elocution lessons, and learning to think, speak and act like a lady!  For me, it required a year of enforced bed rest and time for prayer and contemplation.

3. You Need to Receive, As Well As Give

Jesus’ words, ‘it is more blessed to give than to receive” had always been my mantra.  During this trial, for me, who needed to learn to receive, I can also tell you it’s easier to give than receive.

In addition to my heaping dose of PRIDE, I was also a preacher’s kid who believed it was my job to “model perfection and GIVE to others.”  Not only was it hard for me to ask for help, it was hard for me to lie on the couch while others brought meals, prayed for me, and did my dirty laundry.

176850006I came to learn, however, that people who gave to me were receiving that blessing I had always selfishly hogged for myself. Ok, God, another lesson learned!  I need to receive as well as give.

4. Good Things Happen When You Learn Your Lessons!

Good things happened to Eliza Doolittle – After she completed training under Professor Higgin’s tutelage, she truly “became a lady.”

Good things happened to me too.

I got well.

I grew emotionally and spiritually.

And I will always remember the lessons learned during that difficult time – Eliza Doolittle and me – we had some things in common.

eliza dolittle

23 thoughts on “Eliza Doolittle and Me

  1. My dear friend Barb how are you ? I also have seen days like this if you remember I thought God had forgotten me that was in 2005 but God has been so great with me my health has improved so much also thanks to my family and my Xango family. Yes I am still in Xango and doing great. The products work fantastic with me thank God. Please keep in touch my Friend .

  2. My Fair Lady is one of my favorite movies. I was fond of both the crude Eliza and the refined one. I think they drew from each other. The story ends really well even though there were misunderstandings in the process. As with your story, I learned there are things along the way I may not understand, but trust God for them to ultimately work for my good. Thank you Elder Barbra.

    • Sharon – I think you’re right – the Eliza’s drew from each other – and that’s another lesson – we need to learn to trust God essentially! Thanks for your comment – Right on target. Barbra

  3. Humility comes when we need others to minister to our own needs. I was raised with the same “I can do this” attitude. The support and love of others changed me and I have also grown as a result. Thanks for the thought provoking blog, Barb.

  4. So very true! We ALL need to ask for help at times, but so often than not, we just don’t know “how” to ask. Your blog is an encouragement. I am learning just because I ask for help, doesn’t mean I am weak. It means I am able to recognize my limitations (a strength in and of itself). Yes there is still work to be done, but I’m moving in the right direction.

    • Zaneta – Thanks for your comment – You learned a great lesson — that just because you ask for help doesn’t mean you are weak! Awesome! We’ll keep moving along in the right direction – me too! Thanks for writing, Barbra

  5. God works everything for good according to his glory. Looking back on my life, God gave me the wisdom, peace, and strength to navigate the wyles of the devil. Sometimes I felt it was unfair, but so did my children think when I had to administer discipline and responsibility.
    If you look closely at what you have survived through, you will likely find your destiny for which God was training you. It is somewhere in the reasoning of our Father that would have us look back ( as our kids do) and say “Thank You, Lord” for what I have gained from what I thought was a loss. AA

  6. My life has also been affected by numerous physical injuries and resultant pain and limitations–some way too long-term to suit me. I’m thankful that my loving heavenly Father was SO gentle with me about what I’d learned growing up to think was “true” about life. He knew all along what I didn’t and gently kept showing me the difference between what I thought was true and what was actually true. Glad He didn’t stop trying to get through to my heart. I felt the sting of other people’s judgments during those times, but now I realize their comments were probably rooted in their own mistaken beliefs about the things they’d always thought were true. Most of the time I’m just very RELIEVED that what I thought was true isn’t, and I don’t have to keep thinking God thinks so too. Whew!

    • Wow, Sharon! You have been there and done that, as they say! You know the truth and sounds like it has set you free! Your observation that others who make hurtful comments also had mistaken beliefs they had thought were true is right on. Thanks for writing! Barbra

  7. Barbra, God uses you in ways that I can only call amazing! On Easter Sunday my husband and I celebrated the evening by watching My Fair Lady and your “timely” observations have hit the nail right on the head as just this morning I got the hard call that my cousin, a very dear friend, is now fighting for her life with a tumor near her brain and ear. She’s being carried in God’s peace and kept telling me that she’s sure, absolutely sure she’s in His care and His peace is wrapped all around her. God is so Good! I’m going to print off this blog and let it help me to figure out some things I can do to help her even though she is two states away. Bless you! (O: Polly

    • Dear Polly – Thank you for writing and your observation about God’s goodness and timing is great! I pray with you for your cousin and for wisdom for you as you reach out to her. Blessings to you from Barbra

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