On Saturday Jan took her son to his soccer match, part of the Christian Soccer Association fixtures. During the match he played as he normally did, boisterously! The half time whistle went and the children came off the field to get a half time snack. Jan quickly approached her son and reminded him, “You remember that we talked about eating oranges instead of the jelly snakes for energy – they are here next to your water.” Her son complained and looked wistfully at the other kids eating the glucose snacks, but ate his oranges and drank his water.
After the children had gone back on, some of the mums came to Jan and said, “We noticed you brought oranges today – is everything OK?”
“Well”, Jan explained speaking to the group, “We’ve been to a psychologist recently about a concern that perhaps he has ADHD. So one of the things we are doing is modifying his diet. No more sugary snakes I am afraid. I am just so worried about him and don’t really know which way to turn.”
The parents nodded. They had watched Jan’s son over the year and were aware of some of his behaviours. However, one of the mothers said, “You have to be a bit careful about diagnosing ADHD. I know that you go to church – are you asking your church community to pray for you? The Bible does say “Ask and it will be given to you.”
Another mum said, “You could bring him to our church on Sunday. Every week we see Jesus’ healing power change the lives of people just like your son.”
“You must be feeling pretty stressed at this stage,” said another. “These things are often sent to try us, to help us re-evaluate our lives. We’ve just done the Purpose Driven life and Rick Warren explains that life on earth is a test. This might be part of the test”
“Im not so sure about that,”said another, “I believe that God is compassionate and maybe you have already found the answer to your prayers with the psychologist who is obviously giving you some direction. We can see God working in all those who help us on our life’s journey.”
Another mum declared, “I’ve never thought about the impact of the jelly snakes. I’m going to have a look for some snacks that don’ have the same effect. Until then we could all go back to oranges”.
There was a general murmur of agreement from the group and Jan thanked them. “I really didn’t want this to be such a big issue, but thank you so much for understanding”, she said.
Later as Jan and he son drove off (they’d lost by one goal in the second half) Jan struggled with the idea of life as a test. She wondered who the test might be for, herself, her son, her husband or the whole family.
Who would have thought theological reflection would be done on the soccer field sidelines? Last month, in the home group Jan’s friends helped her reflect through the telling of stories. This time her friends are responding to psychology and medicine through their “confessional perspectives”. Some are drawing on the resources of their traditions, including teaching at church and popular books.