ADHD Christianity, Part 1: What Are the Struggles?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Tuesday, November 16, 2021 0 comments

by Eric Hansen

Some of the hardest things we can write about are criticisms about us. This is no different, especially since I’m just starting to broach this topic on a personal level. But first I think some clarification on ADHD is necessary. The “H” in it stands for hyperactivity, but that doesn’t mean one has to be constantly moving physically. There are actually 3 types of this: inattentive, hyperactive-impulsive, and combined. The hyperactive-impulsive is what we normally call ADHD, but the combined version is most common. While I don’t agree with some of the wording of symptoms (i.e., “careless mistakes”), if you feel you fall into any of these 3 camps, please see your doctor about it. This post or series isn’t meant to give you a diagnosis; only a proper medical professional can do that.

When we start going to church and exploring our faith, we often hear things such as “have quiet time” or “just read the Bible.” For some this may be super easy to do or build a routine for, but for others like myself, this has been extremely daunting to the point of questioning if I’m saved. Even if I remind myself that as long as I believe Christ is my Lord and Savior and died on the cross for my sins, I can still doubt because I can’t just do it. This is made even worse for me because I am an introvert and I internalize all these emotions.

The fact of it all, though, is that we just need to better understand how we function. It’s very probable you cannot sit in quiet space for more than a minute before your brain vrooms right off the Prayer Interstate. ADHD people are better with stimulation, and intrinsic (or internal) motivation often isn’t enough to make us stick to any sort of prayer routine, let alone exercise. That dopamine hit we get when we start doing it can quickly fade away even as soon as the next day, and we’re left wondering why we don’t feel joy anymore from doing it. This can lead to burnout, depression, or a multitude of other emotions. So what can we do about this? It mostly depends on what problem you’re trying to solve, but let's look at a couple.

Prayer Time

It’s no secret we need quiet prayer time with God if we want to build a real relationship with Him. This doesn’t mean do it at night while going to bed (a bad habit of mine), since our minds can quickly start wandering and we need rest.

If you are someone who loves reading, explore the psalms during your free time (first waking up, lunch, etc.). They are God-fearing and God-honoring prayers on different topics. A good concordance in your Bible can help you with a theme as well. I don’t suggest a digital Bible if you can help it, because the more senses you can utilize the less distracted you will likely become. If you use a phone or tablet, you’ll get notifications, texts, etc. that can deter you. Instead, go somewhere with a physical Bible so your hands and eyes are doing something.

Overdoing Bible Time

While there’s no doubt that reading the Bible as much as we can is a good thing for our soul, God also has given us various responsibilities and commitments that we need to honor. If you are a hyper-focused ADHD who can’t get away from something once they start, set a timer. If you have a smart watch or a health tracker like a Fitbit, set a timer to go off. I’ve started doing this even for non-Christian tasks like lunch because I can often get caught up revisiting my work while waiting and forget all about my food.

Just Doing It

While sometimes it’s good to just make yourself do something, it can also hurt your spiritual growth as well. If you struggle with just sitting down and doing something, consider making it something you do earlier in the day. For lack of a better thought, getting the “worst of it out of the way” so, worst case, your hyperactive mind can reflect on it longer throughout the day.

Committing To It

An extremely common trait of one with ADHD is starting but not finishing something. There are about 10 scripts and 5 outlines of content for my ministry and Worldview Warriors sitting in my “inbox” still.

Being a Christian is a 24x7x365 commitment, and one not even the greatest can achieve. This is where having something like a todo list or journal of some sort (I’ve started going back to bullet journaling) can be great for you. Planning is a great thing for us to do, so we know what we’re committing to and what it will take to accomplish that goal. While this topic as a whole can take an article in itself, I’ll provide a good bullet journaling starter guide at the end of this article.

Comparing Yourself

Comparing ourselves to others is another common trait an ADHD person can have. This correlates more to perfectionism, but there’s a strong bisection between the two.

We can look at our pastor, elders, or others in the congregation and see how they may have the “perfect” Christian life. Even if we get to know them and realize they’re far from perfect and still going through sanctification like us, we can get caught in that comparison loop.

This is a very tough element to resolve. It took me a good few years of just asking myself why when I realized I was comparing myself to my best friend. It got even worse when my salvation started coming into the picture.

What has helped me is reflecting back on Jesus’s words, mostly the Sermon on the Mount (starting in Matthew 5). Jesus outlined there perfectly that sinners have a place in Heaven if they surrender to God, and while we will remain sinners on this planet, it’s by our faith that we will be justified. This made me realize that I didn’t need a fancy house or car, and my health may be bad, but God loves me regardless.

I’m doing this as a series since there’s so much to unload about this. There are some resources about ADHD and Christianity, but nothing (or at least fewer) about being an ADHD Christian. There’s scripture to help us remind our overactive minds to stay focused on God, but I want to explore not just what they are but how it can be practical and applied.

How to Create a Bullet Journal Plus My Top 10 Tips
A Bible Study on Staying Focused

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