Three weeks ago, I donated my left kidney. I didn’t think I would blog about it. Only a handful of people even know I did it. I didn’t think people needed to know.
But now that I’m three weeks out and starting to process the journey, I realize that there is no use in hiding my light under a bushel. God is at work, and why would I not want His glory spread as far and as wide as possible?
I’m scared that I’ll make it a story about me. I’m scared that even if it’s not a story about me, people will turn it in to one. I’m scared of people thinking I’m a hero, when really I’m just a normal girl living a normal life and trying to love Jesus in my messiness. That’s what I want people to see—Jesus. If they don’t, I have failed. And I don’t want my kidney donation to be for nothing.
The main question people ask when they hear about the donation is, “Why?” The reply of my heart is, “Why not?” But that doesn’t go over too well with people, because they have a lot of reasons as to why not. Surgery is dangerous and you could die, what if a family member needs a kidney down the road, what if your remaining kidney has problems, maybe the recipient’s body will reject the kidney and it will all be for nothing, how will you be able to take all that recovery time off from work, etc. All are valid concerns, and maybe I will address them at some later point. But the answers to those questions are secondary to the deeper “why” of my donation.
Let me start with what is probably my favorite Bible verse. If I ever write a book, this will be the title. Mark 14:8 “She did what she could . . .” The context is when a sinful woman broke a jar of expensive perfume and anointed Jesus’ head at the house of Simon, during Passover. My whole life seems to be characterized by never feeling like I am doing enough. Sure, I give money to this organization, but I haven’t really helped end world hunger. Sure, I donate blood, but I haven’t really helped rescue girls from sex trafficking. It never seems enough. Although before you get the wrong idea, let me clarify. I don’t do good works to try to earn God’s love or approval. I know that with Christ’s work on the cross, I have God’s full blessing—having received Christ’s righteousness and given him my sin (2 Cor. 5:21). I want to do good works in order to PROVE my love for Him. It’s the difference of a husband buying his wife flowers because he did something wrong, and a husband buying his wife flowers just to show her he loves her. I am not trying to earn God’s love (which is impossible to do without Christ: Hebrews 11:6), but I do want to prove my love for Him—to Him, and to the world. Good works are a natural outflow from a heart thankful for its rescue. Even Ephesians 2:10 shares that we are meant for good works: “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” But if the King of the Universe has rescued my soul and given me an abundant life, nothing I do will ever really seem like “enough” to prove my love and thankfulness. That’s why Mark 14:8 is so important. The woman who anointed Jesus didn’t end world hunger or help build wells for people without clean water. She showed her love for Christ in the simple yet profound way she could. She did what she could. And it was enough.
So I want to do what I can. This may not look the same as what you would do. But I am doing what I can. Donating a kidney was easy and beautiful. It really has been more work for the people around me—helping me lift things, driving me places, checking in on me. For me, I’ve just been along for the ride.
It’s simple to see why I want to do good things. But people still don’t quite understand how I landed on kidney donation. I will say that it was a specific calling from God, that may not be for everyone, but was definitely for me. However, I think everyone that’s able should at least consider it, and here is why. 1 Corinthians 6:20 tells us, “you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” While the context of this verse is talking about sexuality, when paired with other themes in the Bible, it can mean so much more. See the following verses:
Romans 12:1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.
Ephesians 5:1-2 Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
Hebrews 13:16 And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.
Our bodies are made for so much more than simply avoiding sexual sin. They are made to bless others and bring glory to God. For me, this meant donating a kidney. For you, this might mean putting your body through the rigors of child-bearing. Maybe it means using your hands to scrub endless pots and pans. Maybe it means feeding the homeless. Or pushing a wheelchair. Or hugging the leprous in Calcutta. Or writing on the chalkboard to a class full of rowdy 10 year olds. Or raking the neighbor’s yard. There are so, so many ways we can honor God with our bodies. We each have to discover where our giftings and abilities lie. For me, my health and life circumstances allowed me to give up a kidney.
Was my donating a kidney completely selfless? No. All of my actions are tainted by sin, but they are all redeemed by the cross. I’m sure there’s a part of me that takes pleasure in thinking I’m so sacrificial. There’s probably a part of my subconscious that thinks I’m better than everyone else that hasn’t donated an organ. But I know that even with ulterior motives, God works. God uses sinful people, doing what they can, to change the world.
I hope my donation shows my recipient what it is like to receive new life—for free. This fellow didn’t do anything to earn or deserve my kidney. I have done nothing to earn or deserve God’s love. But He grants me eternal life because of His love, though I am undeserving. That’s the whole definition of grace—mercy contrary to merit. I earn death. But I am given life. Grace upon grace.