Hope & ADHD
Taking A Look at ADHD, and Biblical Solutions for Hope
by Keith Phillips, DMin, LPC, LPC-S
A Glimpse into Life with ADHD
“There are no windows and my gaze drifts toward the orange door of my classroom. My foot bounces up and down, and my attention pings around during the lecture. My professor is speaking just a few feet away, but he fades in and out of my focus. I drift between the PowerPoint on the screen and the notes on my computer. I absent-mindedly enter bullet points. Occasionally, a ripple of laughter flows through the classroom. My classmates’ questions and stories, along with my professor’s responses, swirl around me and fill the room.”
This is just a snippet of college student Kerri McKay’s story. She is one of the millions in America that has not only been diagnosed, but unequivocally lives with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD. Thankfully it is possible that as one gets older they can learn how to adjust and cope with their condition.
However, children are not yet equipped to evaluate and respond as well. Since their condition is all they have known, how would they have an appropriate standard? Would they be as capable to express what they are thinking and feeling? Just imagine a child being even more confused than their parent who doesn’t understand their behavior.
What do we think we know about ADHD? Imaging studies have shown some difference in brain development that could affect attention span and impulse. There is also a belief that a low level of neurotransmitters/chemical messengers in the brain leads to the symptoms of ADHD, as well as Hereditary and dietary considerations. Studies have also shown that boys are much more likely to receive a diagnosis of ADHD than girls. There is some debate about this because of the natural exertion and activity of boys. However, there is no certain/dogmatic explanation for ADHD. It is not fully understood.
There is no certain/dogmatic explanation for ADHD.
Consider the morning of seven year old Dusty Nash’s mother after their physician requested she skip one day of his prescribed medication…
Dusty Nash, an angelic-looking blond child of seven, awoke at 5 am one recent morning in his Chicago home and proceeded to throw a fit. He wailed. He kicked. Every muscle in his 50-lb. body flew in furious motion. Finally, after about 30 minutes, Dusty pulled himself together sufficiently to head downstairs for breakfast. While his mother bustled about the kitchen, the hyperkinetic child pulled a box of Kix cereal from the cupboard and sat on a chair.
But sitting still was not in the cards this morning. After grabbing some cereal with his hands, he began kicking the box, scattering little round corn puffs across the room. Next he turned his attention to the TV set, or rather, the table supporting it. The table was covered with a checkerboard Con-Tact paper, and Dusty began peeling it off. Then he became intrigued with the spilled cereal and started stomping it to bits. At this point his mother interceded. In a firm but calm voice she told her son to get the stand-up dust pan and broom and clean up the mess. Dusty got out the dust pan but forgot the rest of the order. Within seconds he was dismantling the plastic dust pan, piece by piece. His next project: grabbing three rolls of toilet paper from the bathroom and unraveling them around the house.
Is this a disciplinary issue? Is this an environment issue? Is this a parenting issue, an emotional issue or a spiritual issue? Is this an ADHD issue? Could this be none of the above, one of the above or a combination? One thing for sure it was an issue for Dusty and his mom, and cases similar to this, and some not as extreme are increasing in American families. The dynamics of ADHD can render tremendous pressures and uncertainties in a parent’s world and their family.
Please do not just assume your child’s issues are just behavioral related; they could be, but it also could be that your child needs an evaluation from your family physician. Do that for them, your family, and yourself. It is widely known that there are medications regularly prescribed for ADHD. In addition, many parents seek the help of professional counselors, including those that integrate a biblical worldview. It has been found that behavioral management skills for youth and parenting strategies for parents are very helpful.
Just imagine your brain being a roller-coaster that you could not get off of.
This brief article has referred to a young adult, a child, and a parent that know what it is like to adjust in life. They have to, maybe you do also. No one knows what you know about your ADHD challenges. Except God. Most of us have heard or have experienced that difficulties can make us bitter or better. Fear can have a crippling effect on us without a foundational hope in Christ. Anxiety creates indecisiveness and our inability to make decisions that give peace. Doubt can begin to creep into our soul along with suppressed unresolved anger that de-masks itself at the most unsuspecting times. It is easy to become emotionally overwhelmed. We were not designed to sustain ourselves with ourselves. God’s Word is about eternal life, but it also is about daily life. A great example is this very affirming fundamental truth…
“For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world-our faith” (I John 5:4).
God puts Himself in us and through our confidence and commitment to Him, we can be overcomers of life’s challenges. ADHD is very real, but so is God’s desire to meet us where we are in our life. We should pray for and prioritize our children’s salvation, educate ourselves about ADHD, get outside help, make life adjustments, and listen for guidance from God.
The Apostle Paul is very transparent concerning a very difficult time in his life…
Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong (II Corinthians 12:8-10).
Paul’s infirmity was not removed but some things were added that surpassed it. God’s grace, His strength, and His power. Paul did not ask for these, but he received more than he asked for and according to his testimony, he received better than he asked for.
Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him” (John 9:1-3).
It is understandable to wonder why, but it is not spiritually or emotionally healthy to linger there. It is no one’s fault, but feelings of guilt, shame, hopelessness, or lack of self-worth can overwhelm us. As a parent or as an adult with ADHD it can be tempting to turn on yourself or God. Please do not do this. Looking within takes a downward spiral if it is not accompanied by the Holy Spirit. Condemnation or self-recrimination moves one away from God. Condemnation is individual focused and does not think of God. As Jesus stated, God wants to always be revealed in our lives, He sustains us with life purpose regardless of our struggles.
 Kerri MacKay. “What ADHD Feels Like To Me,” Understood By Us. Accessed November 16, 2020. https://www.understood.org/en/young-adults/what-is-like/what-adhd-feels-like-to-me
 John W. Santrock. “Adolescence” 11th ed. (New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education, 2007), 368.
 Robert S. Feldman “Development Across the Life Span” 5th ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2008), 297.