Day 89 | I Can Actually Contribute

June 6, 2017

Well… Today went exactly according to plan. I cleaned the van, did laundry, made lunch, did more laundry, worked on my blog and made dinner. Wow! Maybe we really are settling into a routine! That would be so wonderful!

This evening I was thinking about how amazing it is that I can actually do all of this work. Not just because it means that my body is finally healing but also because it’s so good for my heart to finally be able to do something helpful.

I was helpless and completely dependent for so long. I remember when I had to call for help just to get to the bathroom. My legs were so weak that Brett actually had to help me lower myself onto the toilet. I remember when I had to be carried out to the car and pushed to the doctor’s office in a wheelchair.

I remember when I couldn’t shower on my own. My mom would wash my hair in a bedside shower and Brett would help me wash my body in the bath.

I remember when I had to text my mom to ask her to bring me food. She even had help me sit up in bed and prop me up with a pillow so that I could eat. I remember when Brett had to come running with my “throw-up bucket” when I started gagging an hour or two later.

I even remember a few times when Brett had to brush my teeth for me and one time when I had to wear adult diapers for a couple days.

That kind of utter helplessness can definitely do a number on a person’s dignity. It can make you feel like you’re nothing more than a burden. Even when your caregivers are glad to do it, deep down, you know that it wears at them day after day. Even when your heart is full of gratitude towards them, it just never feels like enough. You can say “thank you” over and over but what good is it when you’re too sick to give anything in return?

I think one of the hardest parts about severe chronic illness is losing your ability to give… your ability to contribute something useful and valuable to the people you love. I know there were moments when I felt as though my life was pointless… And maybe more trouble than it was worth? It was a gut wrenching place to be.

Thankfully, the constant emergencies kept me from dwelling on that question too much. I just needed to focus on how I was going to survive the next minute. I could worry about the big questions later.

It was brutal. I don’t know how I made it through that. Yet somehow…. just like the difficulty of biking uphill made the ride down so much more thrilling… so these experiences (that I never want to relive again) are making all the laundry and cooking so much more wonderful.

It’s not that I always enjoy doing it. Sometimes, I feel completely overwhelmed by how much work it takes just to stay alive in the wilderness and have clean uncontaminated clothes to wear.

But I can’t deny how grateful I am that I can actually do something that helps us and makes our lives better. I can wash the laundry and cook dinner so that Brett doesn’t have to. And because he’s not having to worry about whether we’re going to have clothes to wear or food to eat, he can finally focus on growing his business and make a living for us.

It’s amazing he was able to provide for us at all when he could barely give his work a fifth of his time and energy. How frustrating it must have been to know he couldn’t really do his best because he simply didn’t have the time or mental bandwidth.

It makes me so happy to see him making so much progress now! I love it! It keeps me going in those moments when my body starts complaining, No way! I am not carrying this tub full of water! It’s too heavy!

I can just reply, It’s okay…. I know you’ve been through a lot. It’s left you really weak which means carrying this is really, really hard. But you can do it. It will get easier as you get stronger.

So, I do it anyway, take breaks when I need to and maybe even drop the tub on my foot, all the while trusting that it will get easier as my muscles get stronger.

I guess I didn’t spend 10 years in ballet training for nothing. 🙂

Watch a video of me carrying the laundry tub on my Facebook page.

By the way, Brett and I made a beautiful PDF of my favorite resources for suffering souls. I created the content and he made it look fancy with his superduper graphic design skills. It’s available for free to my email subscribers. Click here to sign up and receive 5 Resources for the Suffering Soul.

Get My 5 Favorite Resources

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  • Lizbeth E.

    Wow! I’m so glad you are getting better! My little sister prays for you everyday. Whenever I feel discouraged, I pray, “Awake my soul, to sing, with Your breath in me and I will worship. You have taught my feet to dance upon disappointments and I will worship.”

    June 11, 2017 at 12:23 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Aww… Thank you so much Lizbeth!

      June 11, 2017 at 7:41 pm Reply
  • Audrey

    That is so wonderful that you are improving day by day. BTW, you look absolutely radiant in this picture.

    June 11, 2017 at 12:56 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Thanks Audrey! You made me smile!

      June 11, 2017 at 7:42 pm Reply
  • Hannah Mead

    So good to see you smiling and hearing how you are able to work again! It must feel so wonderful after so many years of being bed-bound. 🙂

    June 11, 2017 at 1:17 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Yes! 😊

      June 11, 2017 at 7:42 pm Reply
  • Chris

    Ana this was a very poignant post!! I have learned so much from you!! On days when I feel like whining about something, I think about you and count my blessings and feel humbled and rebuked. Many of us have nothing to complain about. Yet, in our country, we are often ungrateful and feel entitled. I can also relate to feeling bad about not being able to contribute. After the birth of my second daughter, I was sick for a whole year and was in terrible shape. I don’t even really remember that year. It was terrible. I could barely get off the couch most days. After going to scads of docs, and loads of tests, they finally diagnosed fibromyalgia. Months later, medication kicking in, and getting back on track, I remember one morning being able to make the bed and being so grateful for it. But how soon we forget, and I needed the reminder that this post gave. So I thank you for it! And for your bravery, transparency and for all you are teaching us. I praise God for this healing in your body!! He has big plans for you. This I am sure of!! XOXO 🙂

    June 11, 2017 at 1:46 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Wow! This is so encouraging Chris! Thank you for sharing! 💕

      June 11, 2017 at 7:43 pm Reply
  • Natalie Julson

    This must be a wonderful feeling Ana, praying for you continually and excited to see how God is healing you

    June 11, 2017 at 4:40 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Thank you, thank you, thank you Natalie. 🙂💕

      June 11, 2017 at 7:43 pm Reply
  • Martín Fernandez

    Love to see you better!!! Praise God.

    June 12, 2017 at 8:35 am Reply
    • Ana Harris


      June 12, 2017 at 10:33 am Reply
  • ashley nicole

    Wow, thanks for being so honest and vulnerable here, Ana. I love your attitude toward all of this! It’s very encouraging to me. Keep getting stronger, friend 🙂

    June 12, 2017 at 10:39 am Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Aww… Thank you so much Ashley Nicole. 💕

      June 12, 2017 at 12:55 pm Reply
  • Erin

    Life is hard, but it’s good, Ana. 😉 (I got that from a sermon by Todd Wilson that my family and I listened to recently…I think you and Brett might like it too! Here’s the link: I’m sure it’s all stuff you’ve heard before, and after-all, Brett wrote Do Hard Things, but it might be a good reminder/encouragment….I don’t know. 🙂

    June 12, 2017 at 11:27 am Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Oh! Thank you so much for sharing Erin! We can always use reminders and encouragement! 😊

      June 12, 2017 at 12:56 pm Reply
  • Jamie McCutcheon

    You’re amazing dear friend and dear sister. Love you and I’m so happy for you! Reading your blog brightens my day❤

    June 12, 2017 at 6:32 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Jamie! Thanks so much for reading and commenting! I love you so much and I really miss you! We really need to catch up when I have a little more time. ❤️

      June 12, 2017 at 7:12 pm Reply
  • Ruth Meyer

    “…losing your ability to give… your ability to contribute something useful and valuable to the people you love.” This resonates so much with me, Ana! One of my older brothers has diabetes and other health problems, and-like me-still lives at home. On days when I feel like I can’t give back, I try to remind myself how much harder it is for him, and it motivates me to stay up and moving and see how I can help him. It feels like the “blind healing the blind” at times (lol), but in a way it makes me thankful for my own health struggles, because I can understand better what my brother is dealing with and how to be a help and blessing to him. All your little videos of late have been awesome! Makes me want to keep a journal, and call it “Joy in the little things”, just to catalog all the little triumphs and trophies of progress, no matter how simple or silly they seem. They really do matter. 🙂

    June 14, 2017 at 5:16 am Reply
  • Courtney

    Gifts and acts of service are my love-languages. I can’t imagine not being able to express my love that way. That would be horrible! I’m so happy you can again!
    (And I literally cringed when you said you’d drop the bucket of water on your foot. Ouch!)

    July 21, 2017 at 7:13 pm Reply
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