When I was a teenager, I had a tough time. It led me into making poor choices that had a massive impact on others as well as myself. I left church and went in a direction that I am sure grieved God and made me very worthy of his anger and judgement.
One day I came back to God, on my own, in a quiet and beautiful place. I told him all I had done and how I had suffered because of it. I only wanted to know he was real and if he would want a person like me.
All I received was love. Love that accepted me, forgave me and helped me change what was bad for me into a new direction in my life.
Now think about those children who come to your church group or Sunday school. In particular the one (or ones) you breathe a sigh of relief for when they DON”T turn up. The ones who are disruptive, make you anxious because you don’t know how to deal with them and often create havoc wherever they go.
I have spent the last couple of years researching about ADHD. This started because some of the children I work with were being diagnosed with autism and ADHD and I wanted to understand it well so I can help them. But one thing that shocked me most was the reaction of most people when you say a child has got ADHD. So many people immediately roll their eyes and mention how ‘naughty’ these children can be and tell you about the ‘nightmare’ of having such a child in their class or group. I confess I had thought the same myself.
The next thing that shocked me was the impact of this on the children themselves. They are told from an early age that they are ‘bad’. I read a blog about a boy who thought his name was “No-Joseph”. SO much of the feedback they get from adults around them is negative. “Don’t”; “No”; and “Won’t” are typical words they hear throughout the day. One piece of research I read said that ADHD children are given less understanding and are not liked by their peers from an early age. Socially they are left out because they are ‘too much trouble’. No wonder they gravitate to others like themselves and often get into bigger trouble as young adults because they know by then that no-one cares about them, they have been written off by society, school and sometimes their families.
There are 3 types of ADHD. See below. (and notice the strengths as well as symptoms) and it is predominantly the hyperactivity and inattentiveness we notice and find difficult to handle.
(But there are many children with the mainly inattentive type which we may miss because they seem well behaved and are undisruptive – but that’s another blog!)
God sees the heart
What I learned when I became a Christian was that God knew and understood the circumstances that led me to behaving in a sinful way. I was happy to admit my wrongdoing before such a love as that, and it was an amazing relief to confess my sin and receive his forgiveness. Slowly he healed my hurts and gave me a new identity in Christ. However, I do not to this day tell many people the details of what happened to me, what I did because I know they will ‘disapprove’ and judge me. My past AND my present does not live up to the standards they think make a ‘good Christian’. I hate that this exists in the church because when we disapprove of each other we make people think that God disapproves of them and they are not up to his standards…we are failures and therefore condemned.
Romans 8:1 : Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
The children we struggle with are condemned almost every time they come to church and we tut, sigh or despair at their arrival. They know what we think of them. They know they struggle to sit still, to listen, not to get bored and they know they are impulsive and do things that impact on others and are always in trouble. They know when you don’t like them.
But then they think that God must not like them either. Because aren’t you the face of God that they see?