For the longest time I thought the term ADHD was reserved for parents who just didn’t know how to raise their kids. Then God gave me the poster child for the condition in our first born. My son, John, is a genius. He also has more energy than a platoon of Marines about to storm into enemy territory. Forget trying to fit John into any kind of mold of properness and organization. Calmness for him means that only two volcanoes are exploding simultaneously instead of twelve. But the real awakening came when I realized that if experts were classifying Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder when I was a kid back in the 70s, it would have been me they were talking about.
I could list story after story of my getting into trouble as a boy for just being, well, a boy. A boy with just too much energy and hunger for life than can nicely fit into a quiet and calm public school system. Checks for unnecessary talking in my elementary school report cards? Yup; every six weeks. Playing with fire? Do I really need to answer that one? Exploring beyond the lines and imagining inventions and inventive ways of doing life were the norm for me. I kind of feel sorry for my first grade teacher. Really, she was my second-time-around first grade teacher as I was one of those two term first-graders. She retired a couple years after she had me and I kind of understand why. But she probably just didn’t know what to do with me and honestly I suffered for it. My creativity? The lesson was to cut out and paste our train cars in numerical order going down the hill on a piece of paper. For me though, I wanted to make my train going uphill. So I did. So I got an “F” for not following directions. The fact that I actually knew my numbers seemed to be irrelevant and because I chose to be more interesting than the rest of the class, my attempt was deemed a failure. When you’re thinking of conquering the world, who has time to sit still in a reading group with a bunch of pansy girls with pretty dresses and curls? So Mrs. Garrett grabbed my chair, straightened me up, and let the class know that I was just like the The Boy in the Plastic Bubble who needed to be restricted.
My first trip to the principal’s office came after I urinated in a trash can in the boy’s restroom and another kid told on me. Now, let me explain first for all the ladies who are holding their hands over their mouths. The mental process probably went something like this. After recess and being in a long line in the boy’s room and my brain, running a thousand miles a second, notices a receptacle not being used. Before the various parts of my brain could hold a conference call on the merits of this observation, my cerebellum pulled the trigger on the project and I was relieving myself. So to the office I went and the path of my being labeled as a bad boy was beginning to set in.
When I think of my son John, myself, and countless other boys, it’s clear that there was no evil intent in some of these actions. Actually, there was probably not much “intent” at all. Just moving at a rapid rate of speed. It’s funny to hear my wife talk about this as she’s a first grade teacher and she has some ADHD boy stories of her own. At first she didn’t know what to think with our own boys and now her boys in school. But then she sees me smile when I hear about them and knows where it’s going. I’ve told her numerous times that the answer for just about any hyper boy in school is for me, or another man, to show up and take the boys out for wood splitting class 30 minutes prior to doing anything studious. And Debi knows I’m right. Let’s burn some energy boys!
Many times boys, and some girls as well, are just wired by God in such a way that they cannot fit into a regular structured system. At least not like everyone else. But that does not mean they are defective; just different. For the longest time I thought I was defective and I found very little in my life to convince me otherwise. For some boys it is athletics. For me it was a powerful scout troop, which resembled more of a paramilitary organization than a cuddly group of campers, which gave me an outlet to actually produce with my God given energy. I excelled. As I grew into the man I am today, I saw that my God given ADHD was actually a gift that has led me to various parts of the world and into some really exciting ministry opportunities. It took me a while honestly to see the good in God’s creation of Steve Hinton. I remember about 15 years ago when I read Wild At Heart by John Eldredge for the first time. About half way through the book I actually threw it across the room as it caused a geyser of emotions to burst up within me. I felt a sense of power. Eldredge meticulously pointed out that God himself is much more than we can handle with our nice systems. He is too big and wild for us to manage. In God we see both order and adventure. The cool connection is that my adventurous side is just part of His divine creation in me.
The truth of the matter is that we are all created in the image of God with different expressions of His creativeness in each of us. In the book of Psalms, King David noted that God “created our inmost being” and thus there is purpose to who we are. We are not accidents, but rather the masterpieces of God’s creative design. We also need each other in this grand drama of life to balance each other out. Some people are much more organized than I am and I honestly value their skills and ability. We’re just different. One of my good friends is an accountant and I’m sure we just annoy each other from time to time because I can’t sit still and he can’t catch up. But we need each other. Thus we can, and should, all celebrate who we are and use our gifts to build each other up.
Yes we are all different and those differences are needed. More: they’re beautiful. My son’s ADHD and my own are needed. And let’s just be honest here. Sometimes non ADHD people are just boring. It’s like I keep telling my wife, “Sure you could have married a more stable guy than me.” An accountant or something. “But if you did, your life wouldn’t be nearly as exciting.” She knows I’m right about that to.
How has God made you and how are you going to bless the world today with your mix of divine DNA?
Agreed Doug – also a help to me in discovering this in my journey. I expanded this theme in my book, Confessions, which is available on Amazon and B&N. And you’re probably right about Peter. Interesting to see historical pictures of this outside of the Bible as well. Being in Texas, it reminds me of what Sam Houston was probably like. Thanks much for the interaction on the bog.
Great article. What a revelation it was when I discovered that I had ADHD! Suddenly my life made sense. And then the wonderful revelation that the disciple Peter had ADHD. And look at how God used him.
From what I hear about you Walton; why does this not surprise me. I’m quite sure all the astronauts and explorers were ADHDers. I’d say we rule the world.
But it is still very intersting how God formed us all very different and we all need each other.
Hey Steve, Great article! I “bounced” through grade school too! By the way, I have a theory about ADHD in boys. When people left town & went out into “the wilderness” you had to pay attention to EVERYTHING around you. If an Indian didn’t try to kill you for your horse, a Grizzly might decide to eat you. Plus, if you didn’t pay attention, you didn’t see the game that was there to be killed & eaten. So, the ADHD types lived to reproduce. The others didn’t so much.
John Walton p.s. People who aren’t a little ADHD ARE kinda boring without us!