I look at my six year old son through the rear-view mirror. He sits there, quietly, playing with a cheap McDonald’s toy he earned at school for good behavior. Amazing how such a simple piece of plastic can delight a child. Contentment was the look on his face. No stress or worry, pain or sadness; just a Thursday in daddy’s (cool) car enjoying the rewards of his natural bent towards being pleasant in school. We are on the way to his psychiatrist. He loves his psychiatrist; and so do I.
My son was officially diagnosed with ADHD just about a year ago and with bipolar childhood depression about 2 months ago. I say officially because we’ve known for a long time that he was dealing with some chemical imbalances. It was evident as a toddler that his mood would swing wildly and that no matter the method of discipline, he was an over-active child. Despite my wife’s repeated pleas to have him evaluated, I was a real skeptic but, when 16 out of 17 children can participate in circle reading time and one needs constant computer stimulation by himself in the corner, something is not right. We waited until the end of his first semester of kindergarten to have him seen. The opening paragraph of this article is the result.
In the end, it all boils down to good ol’ fashioned depravity. [So] let’s talk about depravity.
I’ve been surprised (though I should not have been) with the reaction from my brothers and sisters in Christ. Some of them have had the same reaction you are having as you read this. Some of the very Sunday school teachers who witnessed the change and chalked it up to maturity were courteously judgmental at the revelation of his medically induced goodness. They suggested diet might be the problem. Maybe he would just grow out of it. We even received a book published by the Amish that suggested a good beating is all any kid needs. In the end, it all boils down to good ol’ fashioned depravity.
Sin Condition and Mental Condition
Let’s talk about depravity. An obese man is diagnosed with type-2 diabetes. This type is primarily caused by a poor diet though some are more susceptible than others. He broke his body’s sugar regulator because he overused it by eating way too much sugar and fat over a long period of time. The doctor prescribes insulin, the very same chemical the body produces on its own to regulate sugar but, since the mechanism is broken, it must be provided by different means.
Now let’s change the story. The doctor sits in front of the patient and says, “Do you know what the problem is? When Adam and Eve sinned, they broke their unity with God. Adam and Eve no longer depended on God for everything and this led to all sorts of sinful attitudes. You need to eat less but, the reason you eat more and more is because your body is manifesting the deep spiritual longing you have for God. You replace your need for God with food. You are a sinner in need of Jesus and the fulfillment that only He can bring because you are depraved and can’t satisfy yourself.”
The diabetic man, however, had a hand in his body’s sickness because he indulged his sinful gluttony. Why does he get a pass while my son and I are maligned for his uncontrollable tendency to get bored easily?
This spiritual diagnosis is 100 percent correct but, what does this do for his broken body which no longer produces insulin? This man needs Jesus for the salvation of his soul and to receive a new and glorified body in heaven. He also needs insulin now or he will die. If the latter example is not good enough for this man’s physical need, why is it good enough for my son? The fact is our bodies have these complications because of indwelling sin. Before we can open our eyes, our bodies are already doomed. Sickness, death and disorder exist because of the sinful nature passed down to us from Adam. Our bodies will fail and eventually die because of sin. The diabetic man, however, had a hand in his body’s sickness because he indulged his sinful gluttony. Why does he get a pass while my son and I are maligned for his uncontrollable tendency to get bored easily?
Pride and Ignorance- or, Life Abundant
I know many of us are concerned with trends in psychology and counseling which try to undermine personal responsibility and excuse sinful behavior as natural and good. I am not talking about accepting such things. However, we must not let serious physical problems or emotional damage caused by others to keep us from living a full life. Jesus is our joy. He is what fulfills us. What a shame then to let pride and ignorance keep us from enjoying him. Pride because it may be difficult to admit we have a problem and ignorance because we don’t research for ourselves what it means to have real disorders that can be easily treated.
I love my son. I had his name picked out since I was 12. I’ve prayed for my little guy since before he was a possibility. But God knew him. God made him. God gave him to me to love. It is my priestly duty to instruct him in the Lord’s way and to share the good news of Jesus with him. I would be negligent in my duties as a father to deny him the medical care he needs and to let him fall by the way side academically and socially because of pride and ignorance.
Jesus is our joy. He is what fulfills us. What a shame then to let pride and ignorance keep us from enjoying him.
Since this will be published on HolyCulture.net, I thought it would be appropriate to close out with a song which captures my struggle with this issue. The link is for a song called “I Ain’t Got an Answer’. The second verse by Sho Baraka made me cry. I hope this article will push you to get help if you need it and/or will cause you to show love and grace to fellow believers who are going through this.
I love my son… But God knew him. God made him. God gave him to me to love.