I have ignored the whisper inside me for years now. Making excuses time and time again. I have a very real fear of needles. Specifically about having blood drawn. I would battle major anxiety attacks each time I knew it was coming during my pregnancies.
To give blood - lots of it - by choice, sounded terrifying to me. Had it been a child of mine, a friend, or family member - I would have stepped up to the plate without question, but to take this action, one that scared me greatly, for the unknown people in my community who depend on blood donation - it was much easier for me to overlook that need.
But there inside of me was a thought that would not leave me alone. It was a whisper for a long time and then, more recently, louder and harder to ignore. “Do something physical and purposeful for others. Do something that pushes you outside your zone of comfort. Do something that is not easy. Do it solely because you desire to help.”
I did a good job at looking past every Blood Drive Today! poster I saw and swallowed down that deep seeded request inside me to commit. A few months ago, I almost had myself talked into signing up, but again, I started to think about the process.. about the needle… and I backed out.
Yesterday, out of nowhere, as I was winding up my day at work a thought popped into my head.
Give blood tomorrow.
In the next minute, I found myself googling the nearest Red Cross blood donation center and shortly thereafter, I had scheduled an appointment. My eyes filled with tears as I hit the confirm button. What was I doing?
Sometimes when I want to do only what feels comfortable, God gives me a little nudge to step outside the neat little bubble that I’ve made for myself. And other times, when I really dig my heels into my own selfishness he gives me a shove. In my life, God will never be a booming voice from the heavens. He is not a puppeteer on my strings. Like a true father, He is a gentle nudge on my conscience, and a strong hand to steady my path. Yesterday, he was a tiny whisper in my ears, the sound of my heart beating loudly in my chest and fingers moving over a keyboard saying yes, I will.
I scheduled my appointment for 8:15am this morning. The first one of the day. Less time for me to over analyze and try to back out. I laid awake until 1am last night thinking apprehensively about it.
I don’t want to go. I don’t want to go. I don’t want to go.
But at 8:15am on the dot this morning, I was standing at the check-in desk filling out the necessary paperwork. Part of me was really hoping that I would be denied for one reason or another, but just as I suspected, I was approved to donate.
The check-in nurse handed me a packet with a bunch of tubing in it and I felt nauseous. I was directed to a chair where I sat down and tried to flip through a magazine. By the time the nurse who set up my blood draw came over, I was fighting back tears.
Sugar, are you ok?
Yes ma’am. Just nervous. I’m not much for needles and I’ve never done this before.
Well, I will walk you through each step. It’s a breeze, I promise. And if you don’t stop taking those deep breaths like that, you’re going to pass out before we even draw any blood.
She got me a cup of soda with a straw and told me to look away before she brought the needle out. Just a slight pinch and it was in place.
The experience was so much better than I had anticipated. I was relieved to see that there were no big clear plastic bags full of blood visible to remind me of what I was doing. She even covered the needle site so I didn’t have to look at it.
My body shook the entire twenty minutes or so it took to donate. She asked me if I was cold and I told her I was just anxious and that I’m sure it would stop once we were finished. I never felt light headed or sick and six hours later, I still don’t have any bruising.
Afterwards, I ate a donut and watched an episode of Family Feud that they had playing on the televisions overhead. I waited about fifteen minutes and traded wishes for a Merry Christmas with the staff on my way out.
I want to laugh at myself as I write this for being so fearful. It feels silly. It was not hard or painful in anyway but dealing with the fear I felt was a very real part of the experience for me today.
I wanted to turn back at every step. The minute I rolled out of bed. On the drive there. At the front door. After I was approved to donate….But my body kept moving forward. God steadied me and encouraged me. He asked this of me, continuously, for years until I was ready to listen. Today I faced a fear in order to do something sacrificial for someone I will never know. It was a meager gesture in the grand scope of human kindness, but it was mine to give.
Lord, keep me accountable. Let me love others not only when it is convenient, but even more so when it is not. Break down my selfishness. Teach me to live out Your goodness through my actions. Help me to not make excuses, but instead to say yes, I will.
To learn more about donating blood or to find a blood donation center in your area, please visit RedCrossBlood.org