You might be sick, but you’re not useless.

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A friend of mine recently sent me a link to the Wikipedia page of Laura Hillenbrand. The name, at first, meant nothing to me, and I wasn’t sure why she’d sent it, but as I read, something jumped out at me, and I knew it was what she wanted me to see:

“Hillenbrand’s first book was the acclaimed Seabiscuit: An American Legend (2001), a nonfiction account of the career of the great racehorse Seabiscuit, for which she won the William Hill Sports Book of the Year in 2001…Hillenbrand suffers from severe Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and remains largely confined to her home.”

I am not confined to my home, but I do know the debilitating weight of this illness; the way in which it seems to strangle your talents and potential. And yet, I find in Hillenbrand’s life the inspiration that sick people don’t have to feel useless.

To recount all the blessings I have encountered not despite, but because of my illness would take thousands of words, but I too have discovered that even sick people have a purpose and calling from God. We may not all be great writers, but God does not leave his Children without gifts to use for the building up of the church.

So if you’re sick, or tired or you find yourself in circumstances that you never would have chosen, do not, on top of all that, despair that you have no earthly use or purpose.

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Paying it Forward

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Several years ago I really wrestled with having some friends who were able to offer me so much more than I could offer them. They were a young couple who had an abundance of gifts and abilities. The wife used to get me hugely discounted designer clothes, and sew up couture items for me. She’d do my waxing at cost price and buy my hair products from the wholesaler. When I moved out of home, she went through her kitchen and stocked me up with utensils, appliances and a fry pan. I was always welcome in their home, and the husband did electrical work for me, fixed my car, and installed my CD player.

I was overwhelmed by their friendship and generosity and I was discouraged as I looked at my own skills: Teaching. Writing. Reading. What could I possibly do for them? This never bothered them, they just appreciated my friendship, but it bothered me, until I spoke to dad.

He reflected on a couple who was able to help him when he was younger. He was never able to repay them, but, down the track, he was in a position to help others when they had need. Effectively, he paid it forward.

In recent years, I have had many opportunities to help others in various ways. When they say they ‘owe me,’ I remember the friends who did so much for me, and I tell them they owe me nothing; that one day they can pay it forward.