Even When We're Not

In our modern culture, the term “ADHD” is a collective, misused title. We don’t often know what it means. But to those of us who have ADHD, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, it is more than a collection of letters to call us hyper. This is only my story, this is only my experience, but within the Church, I feel like my story is not unique to only me. This is also not a debate to prove if the disorder exists or not, this is merely my point of view.
 
When I was diagnosed with ADHD in 2001, I was seven years old and a elementary school student. I always had thought I was a good student, if, admittedly, a bit odd. I did not think the way other students did, but I was able to go through school with almost no problem. I was never in trouble, but I did get fussed at. Answering questions I wasn’t supposed to answer, finishing work before other students, daydreaming were all offenses that earned a stern face from teachers who usually regarded me well. I went through middle school and high school with an odd stigma attached to me: That’s the kid that is in gifted classes and in learning lab. High school culture says, wrongly, that if you need help, you’re broken, but somehow I avoided that stigma because I didn’t have to try to ace a history test or an English exam. During that time in high school, though, I did start to wonder if I was broken. Why couldn’t I focus? Do I talk too much? Why this, why that? Do I ask too many questions?
 
Now I’m four years removed from high school, and I work at the Church I grew up in, the place I love with all of my being, and I’ll start attending seminary in the fall, but even as an adult, I still struggle with ADHD every single day of my life. I am constantly thinking at a million miles an hour, even as I type this. It’s a life of constant motion and thought. I’m talkative, and if I weren’t me, I’d probably hate to be around me sometimes. But the single most defining attribute in my life with ADHD is Jesus. Jesus has been the constant in all of my struggles with the disorder, even when I was shoving Him to the side during high school and community college when I really struggled with my faith. He was there, and His grace, His strength, His power carried not only me, but my family when it seemed like I was not going to make it out of math, when it seemed like the middle school bullies would never stop, when it seemed like ADHD was going to derail me, He came through. I’ve learned that ADHD is not a curse deemed to wreck me, not an excuse to lean on, but it’s a way I was wired differently. It was and is something that is part of me, no matter what I do, but it is also something that has taught me to lean on Jesus when the world seems like it’s going a million miles an hour and my mind won’t stop racing.
 
There’s a book called the Westminster Shorter Catechism that was written in 1646 that includes a quote that is astounding to think about and still rings true with me about our purpose. A question is raised: what is the chief end of man? The answer is “the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” That is an astounding answer to humans, to people because it points our origin of existence outside of us, and because it points to the focus of worship away from us and onto God. My power is not myself. It can’t be, I am not the focus of existence, but I know the One who is. Struggles come and go, but God is eternal. He can’t leave, even when it feels like He has. My high school question was answered in this notion. Yes, I was broken, but healing has happened, rescue has come, and His strength carries me, and carries many like me, many like you. We all struggle, we all fall, we all feel like we can’t go another step at times, but God picks us up and takes us where we need to go. Our weaknesses are nothing of value compared to His strength.
 
“The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever,” no matter what we look like, what struggles or weaknesses we have, because He is enough.  He is strong, even when we’re not.