It was such a pleasure to watch them stressing.
Our young Sunday School class, just turned sixteen years old, had bravely decided they wanted to celebrate this milestone by donating blood for the first time at the Red Cross Blood Bank. Sixteen of course is the minimum age for donating blood. Tasoni and I were there to join and encourage them.
It may not sound like much to many people, but it took a lot for some of these youth to do this, and their determination to see it through tells me something very important about them: they are serious about living out the true message of the Gospel.
Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. John 15:13
OK, they weren’t actually dying (though one or two seemed to come pretty close), but they were giving up their lifeblood in order to save the life of another.
What’s even nicer is that when you donate blood you have no idea who’s going to get it. It is not necessarily a ‘friend’. It may be a Muslim or an atheist or a Hindu or a Mormon (but probably not a Jehovah’s Witness – they ban donating or receiving blood donations!); it may be housewife or a homosexual, a CEO or a homeless person. And that is even more in keeping with the Gospel that teaches us to love everyone, no matter who they are or where they come from.
Sometimes people really want to serve God but do not feel comfortable teaching Sunday School or doing any kind of ‘public’ service like that. They come and ask me, “what else can I do?” Giving blood is a terrific service. It has the added benefit that it is largely a hidden service, not one done publicly for show (well, the people at the Blood Bank probably don’t even know you, do they?) This kind of service is one that is done sincerely from the heart (in more ways than one) and not in order to gain the adulation of others.
One of the benefits of donating blood is that you get to find out what your blood type is. The one I like best is B+. It almost sounds like a message from God: be positive! That optimism was certainly in evidence on the day from young people of all blood types. They were ready to try something new, something quite threatening and confronting for some of them. They faced it with courage and grace. They did not recoil or slink away. I really admire these young people, each and every one.