There are several themes in my Christian faith that have been especially helpful to me in dealing with ADHD (even during the 40 years before I knew I had it). Christianity begins with the notion that God has high standards for how we should live, and that we have all failed his expectations. It’s called “sin” in theological circles.
Some of us have pretty high defenses and hate to admit we’re ever wrong, but in honest moments, most people with ADHD feel right at home with the notion that we are error-prone and fall short of what we should be.The real magic of the Christian faith for me begins with the notion that God still loves me, despite my failures. This is where the healing effect of my faith on my ADHD really begins.
Self-esteem is a tough issue for most everyone with ADHD. Many of us are social misfits. Even those of us that are the “life of the party” find that there is a limit to how much of our levity other people want in their lives. Many are divorced—literally rejected by people who once promised they would love us until we died. The sense of loneliness that is so common for people with ADHD arises from the failure to maintain close relationships over the years.
There is little I find more affirming than to be desired. It is an antidote to the expectation of rejection experienced by many of us with ADHD. I am fortunate to have had parents who did a great job of instilling a healthy sense of self-worth in me from an early age, so I’ve suffered less than others. The basis of their attitude was their firm belief that God made me uniquely for His own purpose. Despite my flaws, they always helped me feel I was someone special—not just special to them, but special to God as well.
Now, think what it would be like if your favorite current or recent president knew you by name. Imagine you’re at a political gathering, and he spots you in the crowd of a thousand people and waves you to come over. He smiles broadly and introduces you to the other dignitaries.
Hey, everybody, I want you to meet [insert your name] from [insert your hometown], one of my favorite friends. I’m so glad you’re here. This really makes my day.
It’s hard to imagine just how good that would feel.
But this isn’t merely the president we’re talking about; this is the God of the universe, the One who is so powerful that He knows seven billion people by name and cares immensely for each one. I grew up hearing that He knew my name and smiled when He thought of me. Imagine what it does for me to think that God is happy to see me. He could be done with me. My behavior is not up to His standards. I’m not His type. However, for reasons that must have more to do with love than fairness, He wants me to come home in the end and live with Him forever.
This piece is an excerpt from “Reaching for a New Potential: A Life Guide for Adults with ADD from a Fellow Traveler” by Oren Mason, M.D.
Oren Mason, M.D. is a father, husband, ADHD patient, and physician at Attention MD. He wrote “Reaching for a New Potential” in 2009 after being diagnosed with adult ADHD. He hopes this book can serve as a source of encouragement and hope for those traveling a similar path.