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Almost 4 years ago, I wrote this post about being a Christian with ADHD. It made much more of a splash than I could have imagined, and I still receive comments and emails about it almost weekly. I’m still stunned that something I wrote in an attitude of humorous exasperation over my own personal condition has been so helpful to so many people!

That said, I’ve learned a lot in 4 years. I still stand behind everything that I wrote in that initial post, but I want to make some clarifications that I hope everyone, including those who don’t have ADHD/ADD, will find helpful!

1. My condition is not a mistake, but it’s not “how God intended” me either.
I hear people say this a lot, and I know their intent is good, but it irks me. Yes, this is technically “how God made me.” But I am of the firm belief that this is not how he intended me, at least not in the sense of how he intended humanity to be. It’s like looking at a person paralyzed from birth and saying, “That’s ok, it’s how God made you!” Technically, you’re right, but it’s not very nice to say, and it actually communicates a pretty serious falsehood about who God is and what He wants for us.

You see, without going into a full-blown explanation of Genesis, when God created the world, everything was perfect. When Adam and Eve first sinned, everything was thrown into chaos. From then on, the world we live in has been fundamentally broken. My messed-up brain chemistry is just another example of that. Yes, God is sovereign and knew it was going to happen. But He didn’t intentionally create me this way, and He won’t keep me this way. One day, I’ll have a new body, and I’m pretty sure it won’t include a brain with ADHD. Which will be awesome.

2. My condition makes my spiritual life different, but it’s not an excuse for a lack of spiritual discipline or maturity.
So I have a hard time focusing, my ability to sit still is limited, and I struggle with consistency. These things mean that my spiritual life will always look differently from someone with a normal brain, but I truly believe that they don’t give me license not to try. I won’t go into detail about the things that I’ve found helpful for maintaining spiritual disciplines (stay tuned for “Part 3” for that), but I will say that there are things that I’ve found helpful. I am fully capable of studying the Bible daily, praying consistently, and engage in group settings to grow.

3. My condition is NOT an excuse for sin.
I think this point is pretty self-explanatory, but I will elaborate. As tempted as I am to blame my sin on my ADHD, I know that’s not right. While it’s true that my propensity towards being impatient is caused by my ADHD, it doesn’t give me a free pass to selfishly force others to hurry up, not follow proper procedures, or otherwise make rash decisions. Yes, I hate waiting. I hate it more than I hate almost anything else in life. But the scriptures tell us, again and again, “be patient!” It’s one of the fruits of the Spirit. I don’t get to just excuse my lack of it as a “brain chemistry thing” and waltz on by. It just means that I’m going to have to pray more, repent more, try more.
I don’t get a free pass to sin, I get another opportunity to repent and rely on God to help me do what I know I cannot do on my own. 

4. I am fully capable of being a successful, mature, responsible adult who walks by faith and fulfills God’s purpose for my life.
My life will look different. I will probably never stop losing things. I will almost certainly need daily medication life-long. But I can, and I WILL be the person God made me to be. With the proper medication, a good support system, healthy Scriptural teaching, and a daily dependence on God – I can be all of the the above. I can have a life full of the good things that come from trusting God and working hard. I can learn to live life in the ways that God has prescribed. I can learn to let the truth change me for good. I can, as Jesus commanded us, “Go and make disciples of all nations.” Not even the most severe ADHD could stop that. And I’m grateful for that.

5. The prescription for how to live the Christian life with ADD/ADHD is GRACE
For YEARS, I wondered how to live the Christian life as a woman with ADHD. And then one day, when I wasn’t even looking for the answer, it hit me – GRACE. Grace, grace, grace, and more grace. The answer of how to live the Christian life as a person with ADHD/ADD is the same answer of how ANYONE is to live the Christian life. We’re not special, and we’re not different. We’re sinners, and we’re desperately in need of grace.

I might sin differently because of my ADHD, but it doesn’t nullify God’s grace. I am to repent and cast myself into His arms, same as anyone else. And I know that He will accept me, because Jesus died for that. He died for my failure to be patient, for my volatile mood swings, for my lack of self control, for my wandering affections. He died for my sin. And He died that one day, I might see Him as He is – beautiful, loving, ever-patient, slow to anger and full of steadfast love and mercy. For now, I see that only in part. But one day, I will see that in full. And in that day, my brain will be healed, along with my body. I will be perfectly patient, perfectly at peace, perfectly controlled, and all my affections will be set in their rightful place – with Him, in a never-ending day of praise to the King of the Universe.

Looking forward to that day, right alongside you. Until then, Brothers and Sisters, take heart in this –
“…I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” – 2 Corinthians 12


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.”

Past Musings