I was going to start this piece off by calling Shaun an idiot. However, after watching him confront Lea on last night’s episode (S03E18), I can’t seem to summon the vitriol anymore. Mostly because I think he finally realizes how idiotic he has been. And it’s not as fun to kick someone when they’re down, you know?
The Good Doctor centers around a brilliant surgical resident, Shaun, who is also autistic. In the current season (S3), Shaun is caught in a love-triangle of sorts. The incredibly ridiculous Carly/Shaun/Lea triangle.
Laughable, really. As if Lea can hold a candle to Carly in the girlfriend department. Honestly, Carly should be given the Oscars-equivalent for Best Girlfriend.
But maybe I’m biased. Let’s examine the facts, shall we?
When we first meet Lea, she is literally the girl-next-door. She breezes past Shaun’s autistic barrier to social interactions and worms her way into his affections. She doesn’t mind that he is autistic. Instead, she seems to like that he is autistic. One time, she even says that he is not like other guys. She takes him out of his comfort zone: road-tripping, driving, drinking, even giving him his first kiss. Perfect, romantic teenage-y stuff, right? No, because Lea drops him like a hot potato almost immediately, claiming that she just wants to be friends and moves right out of San Jose before he could say Dillalo.
Just when Shaun starts to become okay without her, she moves back to San Jose, right into his house and they become roommates. Poor, confused Shaun. Like he needs this much drama in his first situation-ship.
Thankfully, the writers realized that Shaun needs some sanity in his life, so at the end of season 2, Shaun asks another doctor out on a date. Her name is Carly and she has sense. Did I mention that she has sense? Yeah, okay.
In his relationship with Carly, Shaun grows by leaps and bounds. He learns how to be comfortable with his autism. He learns that he is desirable even as someone with autism. He and Carly have open, honest, and deep conversations about their biases (Carly wondering if she is dating him to prove a point because her sister is autistic), their personalities (Shaun disliking intimate physical contact, i.e. handholding), fears (Shaun being afraid Carly will grow tired of his “issues”). For the record, she never gets tired of his “issues.”
Meanwhile, Lea hovers around their relationship like a visible ghost. She lives with Shaun until Carly tells him that she is not comfortable with their housing arrangement. Lea moves out, but less than two episodes later, she is around again, working in the same hospital as a technical assistant (y’all, Lea is supposed to be an automotive engineer! What does that have to do with medical software?)
Finally, the love triangle seems to be solved in S03E16 when Carly breaks up with Shaun because she thinks he is in love with Lea. It takes him an episode to get there, but Shaun agrees with Carly’s assessment and goes after Lea, because he “loves her more.” If I rolled my eyes any harder, they would pop out of their sockets.
Here’s why this is problematic: Shaun already picked Carly over Lea! In S03E11, he weighed Lea and Carly against each other, and picked Carly. If Shaun was not autistic, the storyline of him not “realizing” his love for Lea might be plausible. But he is, so it is not. Shaun is brutally honest and does not engage in nuanced emotional interactions that belie artifice. If he wanted Lea over Carly in S03E11, he would have picked Lea over Carly. But he didn’t.
So, for him to be persuaded that he loves Lea more than Carly because he and Lea sang into one mic at karaoke is a level of idiocy that Shaun should never even have considered. Shaun even tries justifying his decision by claiming Lea makes him a better version of himself (please read: not autistic).
Either Shaun is an idiot or the writers messed up by making Lea seem prejudiced. Either way, it doesn’t matter. Because Lea is who she is now, and Shaun is autistic. They do not fit together. It’s borderline toxic and just plain wrong. To insinuate that Carly did not make Shaun want to be better is a writer’s cop out. Shaun grew so much in one season with Carly than he did in two seasons with Lea. That might have something to do with Carly’s caring consistency and stability, something Lea is not great at.
I applaud Lea’s decision to reject Shaun, but it also highlights why it shouldn’t even have been an option in the first place.
As much as new year resolutions have become a cliche, we still make them. We still set goals and make plans for the new year and there is nothing wrong with that.
Here's what there is something wrong with: waiting for someone else to validate your goals.
You don't need it.
For instance, if you set a plan to own a house by the end of the year, you don't need someone to tell you it is not practical since you are not making a steady income.
You don't need it.
But the reality is that we want it. In fact, as humans, we crave validation and approval.
But the truth is that we don't always get it. We don't always have people in our lives who prioritize our interests. Even if they do, they are human and have their own ish to deal with.
Instead: pray, set your goals, pray some more, make your plans, do your best, and leave the rest to God.
Don't wait for someone else to say they like what you are doing or that you are doing good.
Plis dear, find your validation in God.7
"Let's begin to thank God because we're alive. There are people in the mortuary. There are people who are on the sick bed, who'd like to be here, but they can't. Yet here we are. It's not because we are better than them. It's only by God's grace. Let's just bless His Holy Name..."
A friend brought this to my attention the other day. "Why?" she queried. "Why do we have to say thank you while comparing it to those suffering?"
And you know what? She has a point.
However, as with most things in this world, there are pros and there are cons.
Let's examine the cons, shall we?
We have an "I-better-pass-my-neighbor" mentality, and to be honest, it hasn't done much for us.
It's like: we would accept mediocrity, as long as we are better than somebody else.
The problem with this mentality is that we could never reach our full potential because we are looking backwards at what is behind, rather than forward to what we could be.
It's never fun being the butt of the joke:
And now, the pros...
Empathy is more than feeling bad for someone. It is to put yourself in the shoes of another, to "vicariously experienc[e] their feelings, thoughts, and experience" (5)
That's what this prayerpoint does.
It reminds the congregration that it could just have easily been them in the hospital.
This prayerpoint is not unlike the Syrian refugees YouTube ads, the feed-the-hungry-African, or the-sponsor-a-child prompts that permeate social media.
By shedding light on the less privileged, these ads remind you that these people are actual people. People with dreams, goals, loved ones, families.
These ads remind you that it could just as easily have been you.
By realizing that there are people who are worse off than you, it makes you grateful for what you have.
This, I think, is the main intent behind those who use this prayerpoint as a call-to-worship. We can get so caught up in wanting more, wanting to be like someone who we think is better than we are (that I-better-pass-my-neighbor mentality at work again).
And this prayerpoint is meant to settle us and make us grateful for what we have.
So...what now? Should we use the prayerpoint or not?
Jeez, y'all, calm down. I am getting there.
You would have to decide that yourself. All that matters to God is your heart.
If you're using the prayerpoint to make yourself feel important, or if using it makes you feel like a jerk, then don't use it.
If, however, using it makes you appreciate what you have and empathize with those who are less privileged, then knock yourself out, with a little caveat: take a minute to pray for those who are less-privileged.
Keep in mind that if God had His way,
"there [w]ould be no poor among you, for the Lord your God will greatly bless you in the land he is giving you as a special possession" (Deuteronomy 15:4).
But, alas, sin has stolen what is to be ours.
So Romans 9: 18 says, "So you see, God chooses to show mercy to some, and he chooses to harden the hearts of others so they refuse to listen."
It's been a few weeks now since I posted Part One of this series, but I still remember what the Lord said in response to my questions.
He said, Jeremiah 29:11 and Romans 9:18 are not mutually exclusive. They are both true.
You see, to our very-human eyes and brains, these two verses are mutually exclusive - contradictory, even.
One says that God's thoughts towards us are good, and not evil, while the other says that He chooses to harden hearts so that they refuse to listen.
How can God who only wants good for a person choose to harden their heart so that they refuse to listen?
It. Just. Doesn't. Fit.
Jeremiah 29:11 and Romans 9:18 are not mutually exclusive.
Yet, the Lord stands His ground: "Jeremiah 29:11 and Romans 9:18 are not mutually exclusive, Ronke."
The Lord is asking me (and you, of course) to open our minds to a universe where Jeremiah 29:11 and Romans 9:18 are not mutually exclusive.
The Lord is asking us to understand in faith. Maybe we can't understand now with sight, but we can, with faith.*
We may not understand WHY or HOW it is even possible, but it is.
There is a paradigm shift here: Not trying to use human logic to prove the Bible right, but using the Bible to prove your thinking right (i.e. inform your thinking).
And if God - who made the heavens and the earth in six days - says that Jeremiah 29:11 and Romans 9:18 are both true, then they are.
It is true because He said it. Not because you can prove it - using logical reasoning or scientific evidence.
It is true because it is true.
Does this sound foolish?
Then, I must be saying something right. **
*2 Corinthians 5:7
** 1 Corinthians 1:18-27
Not trying to use human logic to prove the Bible right, but using the Bible to prove your thinking right (i.e. inform your thinking).
I finished When Dimple Met Rishi a few minutes ago, and I am just ruminating. This is not a review or anything like that. But if you must know: I thought it was a well-written piece of art.
It was quite obvious that the author, Sandhya Menon, was personally acquainted with the struggles of being a non-white immigrant in the United States.
What struck me most about this book (you know what...maybe this is a review?)...
As I was saying, what struck me most about this book is a statement that Rishi makes about Christianity always being the default in the United States. You know, Easter holidays, Christmas holidays, Christian-ese words interwoven into day-to-day speech.
Basically, Rishi was saying that Christianity is the majority. And other religions, like Hinduism in Rishi's case, are in the minority.
If you are a Christian and you are reading, I am willing to bet $5 that your initial reaction was, "No, it is not!" And you are probably ready to start listing instances where Christians have been persecuted, and ....yeah.
Well, I am a Christian, so I get it.
Here's the thing: Rishi is right, technically. We've all heard about WASP, right? The White Anglo-Saxon Protestants who were (and still are, for the most part) at the top of the social food chain.
See how somehow Christianity is roped into that title?
So whenever people talk about "the Guy," "the Man," the "society" they are rebelling against, Christianity is always, unfortunately yet unmistakably, there.
Well, I hate it.
Because if all the WASPs truly embodied what it meant to be a Christian, there wouldn't even be a WASP. Does that make sense?
Like if they truly were Christians, would they not be known for their love instead of their exclusivity? Would they not be known for Jesus rather than for jewels? (some good old-fashioned alliteration for you)
Christianity, in the true sense of the word, is not in the majority.
Heck, we are in the minority - actually, the worst kind of minority: The minority that everyone thinks is the majority, so when they raise their voices to be heard, they are shut down, because no one wants to hear anything the privileged princesses have to say.
Rishi's statement hurt because it rings true of a trend I have noticed of late.
The Lord Jesus Christ, in His unassuming humility, has somehow become the Man;
I hate it, but I don't have to defend the Lord's honor. He is quite capable of doing that Himself.
I just wanted you to know, dear reader, that being a Christian is more than a title. It's about loving Jesus.
**Picture pulled from: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28458598-when-dimple-met-rishi
There is a thing to be said about confidence.
Really, one of the coolest aspects of growing up (for me) is that my confidence has been forced to grow up as well.
I used to be terrified to have questions about Christianity, about the Lord, about the Bible.
I was scared I would unearth something that would change my faith, change my understanding, change me.
I was scared because I was afraid that one of the answers I sought would make Him untrue.
I should have known that when fear is the major driver, the Lord is probably not in it.
I remember asking an older person, as a kid, who gave birth to God. I don't remember the answer I was given, but I remember feeling that I should not have asked that question.
I remember feeling listless and unsatisfied with the thought that going to heaven meant we will be singing in choir forever and ever. I could barely stand 4 hours in church, talk less of eternity!
But I remember never questioning.
The problem with never questioning is that there is only one outcome: ignorance.
The thing is God does not do ignorance. He said that we perish when we don't know. (Hosea 4:6)
I would never, ever, ever, ever, in a million years, be where I am today if I did not question. If I just buried the contrary way I was feeling and let it go.
Don't get me wrong. There are still many things I don't understand yet, but I trust that God will explain it to me - either here on earth or when I see Him and bug Him with questions.
" The problem with never questioning is that there is only one outcome: ignorance.
This past Saturday, I was reading Romans 9.
Verse 18 says: "So you see, God chooses to show mercy to some, and he chooses to harden the hearts of others so they refuse to listen."
Well darn, I thought.
How am I supposed to explain this, Lord?
How do I counter a self-assured Twitter user who uses this verse to oppose Your goodness? How does this verse correlate with Your goodness?
Wanna know what He said, read Part 2!
Okay. I officially call it.
It is the most debilitating of all emotion-thought-feelings.
It takes you from logical, faith-full human to .... (insert your worst head-state scenario here).
I was teaching the children class at my church a few Sundays ago and we were discussing the story of Creation and how amazing everything was before we sinned.
The Lord helped us to understand that He did not create us with fear or shame (we can talk about shame on another day).
Case in point, when the Lord was bringing the animals for Adam to name - do you think He brought the lions and tigers and dinosaurs(!) in a cage or with a leash around their neck? (Genesis 2:19)
That would be a solid no.
Even more, do you think the animals we consider ferocious today were tied to trees or walking freely around the garden? (Genesis 3:1)
Fear was non-existent! Adam and Eve had zero reason to fear because they knew God was right there.
They had no reason to fear anyone's intentions - because they had no concept of evil.
Fear comes from knowing evil.
You are only afraid your children will be kidnapped, because you know children get kidnapped.
You are only afraid you will lose your job because you know people get fired..
Catch my drift, here?
Well, guess what you guys, we are no longer in the Garden of Eden - physically at least. (Shocker!)
But spiritually, we have been returned to that state of oneness, relationship and trust with God.
We don't have to fear - we have zero reason to fear - because we know that God is right there.
Sadly, I don't think we can do anything about the knowing evil part. Our ancestors ingested that fruit (I hope it went down well, Adam! 🙄)
Maybe we can - I don't know.
My point though is that we can choose, today, not to live in fear!
Who's with me with God?!
Many are the fears of a man, but the Lord invalidates them all.
"You don't have to change the world today; you just have to listen to Me." Those were the words the Lord whispered in my spirit a couple of minutes ago - literally.
It's been a while since I have written a blog. Honestly, it's been a while since I have written more than a full paragraph.
I'm not sure why. I can't tell you why.
I think part of me is terrified of staring at a blank screen, while my fingers hover aimlessly above the keyboard.
I think part of me wants to be the one with the best write-ups and the best quotes, so I relentlessly second-guess everything I do.
I don't know. And honestly, I am starting to realize, it does not matter.
What matters is that I ignore those thoughts, those feelings, those things that do not want me to do what I was made to do. And actually do it.
So, I am here. Doing it.
I read something on social media less than 20 minutes ago, written by someone I'd like to consider my friend, and I was struck. I was (and still am) floored by all she had gone through spiritually, and how mature she is now. And of course, I began to compare her to myself. Her achievements to mine.
I woke up with a start about 40 minutes ago. I had been praying when I fell asleep. Just before I fell asleep, I knew I would because it is so darn cold and I was bundled up under the covers. Yet, when I woke up, I had to consciously remind myself not to feel bad for taking a nap in the middle of the day.
"You don't have to change the world today," the Love of my Life reminds me, "you just have to listen to Me."
Okay, Dad. Okay.
I think I first saw Demi Lovato in Camp Rock.
There was something so relatable, so likable about her. Maybe it was her full-mouthed smile that made you want to smile too or her unencumbered laugh that, well, made you want to laugh too...
...There was just something about Demi.
Her unabashed honesty about what she was going through (i.e. her psychological disorders) was refreshing and endearing.
And I loved her. I prayed for her.
Then, she began to veer off onto a path that, despite my love for her, I could not follow her on.
I could have prayed.
I should have prayed.
But I didn't.
I may have muttered a few half-hearted words to God on her behalf. Maybe.
I stopped following her. I stopped praying for her.
Hearing the news of her overdose last Tuesday hit me hard. Right in the gut.
How dark of a place she must have been to forget about the last 6 years of her sobriety and use to a point of overdosing.
I was upset for hours. I am still upset, over a week later.
Oh, dear Demi, my heart cries out for you. Forgive its traitorous nature.
I pray to God that you are okay. And I pray to God that once more, you will find your way to Him - the only One who can truly satisfy you - mind, body, and spirit.
I love you. You brought laughter and hours of singing and dancing to my life.
But God loves you more. He will bring laughter and hours of singing and dancing to your life, again.
He promises. Just trust Him.
Psychologists have a theory; they say "bad is stronger than good." That is, our perception of negativity is stronger and far outweighs our ability to see what is good around us. It would be hard, during this time, to focus on the thousands of people who love you and want to see you get well. But try.
No, actually, scratch that.
Don't focus on them. They could be like me and desert you when they don't like something you do. They are human.
Focus on God. He loves you. He's got you. He knows you - flaws and all. He will never, ever disappoint you.
Dear Demi, feel better soon.
Picture of Demi above pulled from: https://bit.ly/2KkBJQe
Nothing hurts more than thinking I heard You when I didn't.