with equal parts compassion & hilarity

Plasma, anyone?

Three years ago, my first experience donating plasma was exhilarating. 

The attendant rearranged and organized the plethora of tubing while taking great effort to ensure I was comfortable at my first donation. 

He asked me a seemingly innocent question,

“So, why are you here?”

“I have student loans,” I responded quickly.

In retrospect, I could have added, “Two days ago my steering wheel was smoking, my computer is malfunctioning, my tax return is lower than expected, and because I want a nice bike to ride so I can feel the wind blow through my luscious locks, OKAY!”

My family would be happy to know I refrained from voicing all of that. I mean, I barely knew the guy. Still, my four word answer was enough to cause a wave of understanding to pass over the attendant’s face. 

“Say no more, I understand!”

The second time I visited the plasma donation center the process was smoother once I remembered which finger I had previously elected to use as my signature (right middle, fyi). 

That time was interesting because the attendant who assisted in un-sticking me queried as to whether I was married to the man formerly hooked up kitty-korner to me. Reader- I was not married at the time and I’d never seen that man before in my life.

“Oh, usually people who look at each other like that are married,” she said.

Shockingly enough, that’s not the first time I’ve been mistaken for a wife. The other time was at a funeral and I was fourteen. Although scarring, it did apparently prep me somewhat for my second experience donating plasma. 

Needless to say, I anxiously wondered whether I had been looking at people incorrectly for my whole life. Since the statement at the plasma donation center, I have taken great pains to practice caution in how I look at people. 

As a brief aside, what a bizarre statement to make to someone! How googly-eyed was I looking at this perfect stranger? He seemed nice enough, sure. But, in all honesty, I was watching him so closely because he had been hooked to up his plasma-thief of a machine the same time I had been hooked up to my plasma-thief of a machine. I just wanted to race. Because, you know, everything in life is a competition.

The third time I donated plasma I felt like a seasoned professional. Unfortunately, I developed a nasty brownish looking bruise on my arm after I left. My mom freaked out when she saw me next and advised me not to return. And, three years later, I still haven’t. 

Anytime I start thinking about donating plasma (which I clearly am now), my thoughts return to that first experience when I was asked a seemingly innocent question: “So, why are you here?” 

That’s a bit bizarre too, don’t you think? To say to a stranger? 

Normally, I think “why” is a little bit of a harsh word, but I like to use it for this. Say it softly and kindly in your mind or aloud – it sounds less accusatory then. 

Why are you here, working at your job? Why are you here, still in bed after pressing snooze four times? Why are you here, in the town you rent? Why are you here, with a person you love – the two of you crying because you’ve hurt each other again? Why are you here, toasting champagne at the wedding reception?

Why are you here, alive on this earth?

In my great human and humble opinion, I think you are here because you matter. Your story matters. I think you’re here because The Lord has great plans for you and for your story to contribute to the story He’s written for the world. I think you’re here to live wrapped in grace and to love your neighbor. I think The Lord wants you to know Him and wants you to know you’re loved.

In any given situation, how are you contributing to your story? Your neighbor’s story? The world’s story?

I donated plasma three times because I wanted to pay off my student loans faster. I’m sometimes pressing snooze because I stay up late watching The Office re-runs. I’m crying with a person I love because I didn’t mean to intentionally hurt them and I’m still trying to learn how to discipline my flawed humanness even though I’m 25 and think I should just know better. I’m here toasting champagne at the wedding reception because I want to celebrate my dear friends. I’m here living on this earth to love Jesus and to love my neighbors. 

Those are just my answers. I like some of them and others I don’t like as much. If you’re the same, I would say to you what I was told at my first plasma donation, “Say no more, I understand!” 

I see how your heart is trying to make a beautiful story and I love that – that is what I am rooting for! I am for you, for your goodness, for your trying, and for your story. That’s why I’m here.

(Also, it is really a donation if you’re being compensated for it? Is it called a donation to make people feel better? Just curious.)

Photo by Paweł Czerwiński on Unsplash

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