So, in case you haven’t already figured this one out on your own, I have ADHD – attention deficit hyperactivity disorder Full blown, “I get distracted by shiny things and – squirrel! – can’t sit still for more than 10 minutes” disorder.
I’ve often wondered how my ADHD fits into my life as a Christian. So many of the characteristics of my ADHD simply aren’t conducive to the stereotypical model of what a Christian woman should look like. I’m not quiet, I’m actually pretty loud. I can’t sit still through prayer – even if it’s 30 seconds, if I’m not the one speaking, my mind wanders. I’d much rather get up and move around than sit and listen to someone talk. I’m easily distracted, easily excitable, and am far more prone to fluctuations of emotion of epic proportions than a quiet spirit.
One of the things that I’ve struggled with particularly (and continue to struggle) is patience. If you ask a specialist, a lack of patience is actually a key indicator of ADHD. It’s simply not something I easily possess. When I want something, I want it right then. Waiting frustrates me beyond belief. Now, as much as I want to, I simply can’t write this off as a symptom of my disorder. And trust me, I want to.
Overhead, on the shelf of my desk, I have the Fruits of the Holy Spirit taped up to remind myself what I’m striving for. They’re placed in order of how they occur in the Bible. I find it particularly ironic that when I look up from my desk chair, the first once I see, directly overhead, is patience. Everytime, I’m reminded of what I don’t yet have.
I want to be patient. But I want to be patient now. A lack of patience makes the Christian life very, very hard. I’m wrestling with this and more often than not, I feel that I’m losing.
I wish I had a nice little neat ending like “and then I learned to emulate the patience character of God and now I’m patient, and life is candy and butterflies.” But that’s not reality. The Christian life is far more often scraped knees and bruised skin. When I speak of my walk with Jesus, I should probably just say my “Stumble, trip, fall, scrape my knee, cry, get up, whine, and learn to keep going” with Jesus. Cause that’s more often what it is.
That’s what I’m learning. What are you learning?
I want to run,
but I haven’t learned to walk yet.
I want to sing,
but I haven’t learned to talk yet.
UPDATE: Wow! I cannot believe the popularity that this post has had. It’s been over 2 years since I first published this post, and the amount of emails, comments, and conversations it has sparked has been incredible. Considering that I wrote this blog for myself as a creative outlet – it’s a little overwhelming. God really can use anything!
That being said, I wanted to provide a few updates. I wrote this as a freshmen in college. I am now finishing up my junior year, and I have to say – a LOT has happened over the past few years. God has been working on me like crazy. Life has been incredibly hard, but God has been incredibly good.
I still struggle in my walk with the Lord – a LOT. Patience is still an issue for me. But I’ve learned one important thing – my ADHD is not the cause of my sin. To be sure, ADHD significantly influences the WAY that I sin, but it is not WHY I sin. I sin because I’m a sinner. And sinners need grace.
Perhaps that’s the biggest thing that I’ve learned. That Jesus died for that. Jesus died for my ADHD. Think about it – he died for yours too. He died for the anger, the tumultuous emotions, the impatience, the impulsive decisions. He died for all that. And because He did – we are freed.
The prescription for living the Christian life as a person with ADHD is the same as the person without. Grace. Grace upon grace upon grace. You might have to modify how you read the Bible, or how you pray, or how to control your decision making. But the need for grace remains the same. Pray for it. God will grant you grace abundantly when you ask.
And he will give it. He will provide the grace that we need to cover the inattention, the lack of empathy, the forgetfulness. The sin.
“Grace grace, God’s grace. Grace that will pardon all my sin.”