Monday, December 21, 2009

Putting it all together – Part 10 Eliza Doolittle and Fading Posies

Picture this.

One day you are out selling posies on the streets of London. You have learned how to pick the right mark, you can judge the just the right moment, even know how and when to apply the right pressure. When to use tears, when to give an insult, when to feign the proper amount of arrogance. You know you are good at what you do, and you have provided a good living for yourself, comparatively speaking. You even a have a dream, to sell flowers in a real store. You know it is farfetched and everyone thinks you are daft just for entertaining the idea.

Then one day this man comes along who tells you that he can open up worlds of opportunities you could never even image – if you learn how to use your words. At first his words throw you for a loop, you decide he must be the crazy one, but there is something inside of you says you were meant for more than walking the gutters selling wilting flowers to the people who have the type of life you would kill for. You are caught, you have to find out if what he says is true, so you find him commit yourself to his tutelage – as bizarre as it may seem. You fight your way through the frustration, and learn how to do what he says, and like everything else in your life you do it well.

As proof of your success he passes you off as nobility at party for the queen, and you realize how much you really have changed. No more extra “r’s” in your words, you know the topics to avoid in proper society, and how to hold your head just so. Now what?

All along you have known your were just pretending to be something and someone you are not. He knew, but somehow you fooled everyone else, even the experts. So do you return to the streets to sell flowers, do you settle for the flower shop on the corner? Can you, now that you know what it is to be a part of the new and fascinating world? Or are your once wildest dreams faded and worn now that you have seen how truly small they are?

Some of you have already guessed that this was the basic plot to My Fair Lady, but I think it is more than just some story from a movie. Maybe that is why it continues to be so popular.

In some ways we are all nothing but Eliza Doolittle’s, we have safe attainable dreams. Dreams that other people may question, but ones we know we can do. There is something inside of us that knows the status quo isn’t for us. So we dream, but one day this guy comes along and suggests something that you never would have considered. And he is so sure of himself, you find yourself believing.

Only in this story it isn’t a professor, it is God. He walks into our world and turns it upside down. He demands things of us that make no sense. He tells us that we can do extraordinary things with our lives and we get caught up in his vision. The thing is most of us feel like Eliza, pretending to be something we are not, wondering when we will get caught, and kicked out of the private club – maybe even hoping to get caught just so we can stop pretending.

But then there is the moment of truth, when you try to leave the dream behind. You go back to your old haunts and realize no one recognizes you. To sell flowers now would be just as big of a sham as passing you off as a duchess. You find that no longer do you dream the dream, but the dream has dreamed you.

So you are left with the dilemma, where do you belong now? Are some strange little homeless oddity? Are you better than you were, or worse? Was ignorance bliss and now you are being crushed by the weight of a dream you never asked for?

God’s dreams are always greater than anything we could design for ourselves. The problem is there is always this moment, which sometimes last for years, where you realize you don’t really have a place where you fit. You can’t go back to who you were before the dream, you have seen too much, but you don’t know how to be who you want to be.

Luckily for us, God doesn’t need to dance in an alley and sing “I’ve grown accustom to her face,” before he realizes he has no intention of returning us to the streets. He has known all along he took us home to keep. He gave us a dream that is not a fiction designed for his amusement. All the hard work wasn’t so he could perpetuate a scam. He did not fall in love with us accidently somewhere along the way, nor was he taken by surprise by us.

The only one surprised by the escapade is us. We wake up to find that we are changing, and what felt false and fake in the beginning is really who were all along. It can scare us to know that a dream has the power to shape us, rebuild us, and make us stronger, faster, and better. God has the technology. The question is do we let the fear drive us back to the gutters or do we have faith in the God who has revealed to us a plan that far exceeded anything we ever imagined.

If you can survive that moment, if you can get past the feeling of dangling in space, you can make it, but I won’t lie to you. It is scarier than anything you have ever faced. Nothing feels natural, nothing feels safe, and your skin sometimes feels like it was made for someone else. But the truth is once you surrender to the dream, you can live nowhere else.

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