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09 September 2006 @ 07:39 pm
Great Truths in Lost  
I am addicted to the show Lost. I recently finished season 1 for the first time, in preparation for season 2 on DVD. Now I am trying to race through season 2 on DVD in preparation for season 3, premiering next month.

Though I am not very far into season 2, a recent moment reminded me of my favorite episode in season 1, when John Locke helped Charlie “quit” his addiction to heroine. For those of you not in the know, Lost is about some people who are lost on a strange island after their plane crashed. Charlie is a has-been rock-in-roll star addicted to heroin. Locke is best described as a “man of faith.” He is perhaps the strangest character on the show, as his legs miraculously were healed once they crashed on to the island – a fact no one else knows. He is convinced that everyone is on the island for a reason and puts a lot of faith in destiny.

In my favorite episode, Locke discovers that Charlie is addicted to heroin. Charlie also doesn’t have much heroine left. Locke helps him out by taking the heroine from Charlie but then offers to give it back to Charlie after he asks three times. This, of course, frustrates Charlie, who asks him why he doesn’t simply throw away the heroin. Locke replies, “If I did that, you wouldn't have a choice, Charlie. And having choices, making decisions based on more than instinct is the only thing that separates you from an animal.”

Locke helps Charlie overcome his addiction, so that Charlie is the one who finally destroys his remaining heroin.

In season 2, we have a very different encounter between Charlie and Locke. Charlie has gotten into the habit of caring for a girl he likes named Claire and her newborn baby. He makes a judgment that she isn’t very good at taking care of the baby and begins taking more responsibility from her and lecturing her over things she does wrong. In talking with Locke, he recalls that she was going to put the baby up for adoption and adds, “She's got a bit to learn about being a mom. Responsibility, y'know.” Locke responds, “Hmm. Now that's an interesting thing to say for a heroin addict.”

Locke’s response to Claire is quite different. When he notices her discouragement, he helps her learn new ways to be a better mother. He empowers her and has faith in her ability to succeed. He equips her to take more responsibility rather than taking responsibility away.

Locke’s perspective is very different than Charlie’s. Charlie fears defeat and failure, which seem inevitable. With his heroin addiction, he would rather someone come in and take responsibility from him rather than being trusted with it himself. The struggle seems too difficult to bear or overcome. Similarly, when he sees Claire struggling, his response is to take responsibility away from her, even though it means overstepping boundaries. He judges Claire and her ability to succeed, just as he judges himself. Interestingly, though, when he judges Claire, he does so with pride in himself. And when he judges himself, he does so with a low comparison of himself toward others.

But Locke does not fear struggle. Instead he sees the value of it. And he has faith that one cannot only success but will be better because of it. Back when he is helping Charlie with his addiction, he uses a moth as a metaphor: “You see this little hole? This moth's just about to emerge. It's in there right now, struggling. It's digging its way through the thick hide of the cocoon. Now, I could help it - take my knife, gently widen the opening, and the moth would be free - but it would be too weak to survive. Struggle is nature's way of strengthening it.”

Luckily, we don’t have to struggle alone, but we do have to struggle. And as followers of Christ, our strength is not in ourselves, but in the power and work of Jesus Christ. Perhaps we, too, can then see struggle as good – as God’s way of strengthening us. And perhaps then we can allow it and even encourage it to take place, both in our lives and the lives of those around us.

Galatians 6:1-5
Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load.”