Lately, partly because I have trouble sleeping at night, I have picked up a new addiction: Watching late night reruns of “House”.
For those who are not familiar with the TV series, Dr. Gregory House, the series main character is a brilliant doctor who has the personality of a cactus and the maturity of a 3 year old. Socially, he is an absolutely failure in relationships, and go to great lengths to avoid any sort of interaction with his patients. Ethically, he has no problem lying to get what he wants. Phyically, he has chronic pain in his right leg, and because of that he is addicted to pain killers. But in spite of being deeply flawed in just about every possible way, he saves lives, successfully diagnosing and treating diseases that no other doctors (in the show) could do.
I think part of the reason why I, and judging by the show’s ratings, millions others are drawn to the show is that deep inside, we want to believe that in spite of our own flaws, we can live useful lives that make a difference.
The last episode I watched affected me rather deeply. A girl was brought in to the hospital who had been raped. She insisted on being treated by House, even though House found nothing medically interesting about her case. The girl refused to talk about what happened to her, but insisted on talking to House. She would talk about anything: They talked about the weather. They talked about House’s past. The girl was a Christian and they debated about religious philosophy. But she wouldn’t talk about herself or what happened to her.
House finally gave up and asked her why she wanted to talk to him. She said: “Because something about you tells me that you understand pain.” Towards the end of the show, in a (very) rare moment of self-disclosure, House confided that he was abused by his father as a child. Upon hearing House’ story, the episode ended with the girl saying: “Now I am ready to tell you what happened to me.”
During my own sleepless moments, I can’t help but think that perhaps my own story of pain will be useful to people, that perhaps there are people whom, like the girl in the show, NEEDS to hear it from someone who has gone through pain before being willing to say, “Now I am ready to tell you my pain.”
Recently I was told by the “higher powers that be” that I am no longer ‘qualifed for ministry’. It’s so ironic: The very things that I feel are making me ‘useful’ to others: doubts, brokenness, struggles, failures, pain; are being cited as reasons why I am no longer ‘qualifed’.
Perhaps part of my search is to look for a place where I will be accepted as a person rather than judged and dealt with as a “problem”, where my story will be embraced as a whole rather than “white-washed”, where I can be “useful” in helping people, flawed as I am.
I continue to search for that place, because I believe that’s where redemption lies. To me, redemption is not a abstract theological concept or an existential state of being. Rather, redemption is finding that place where your story, not just the ‘good parts’, but all of it, makes sense. Redemption is finding that community where your story will be embraced in all its glory and ugliness and together, you turn the page and discover, “Wow! there is a next chapter! This leads somewhere!”
So, the search goes on…