This liver transplant journey has been the most difficult period of my life but I see lots of good that has come out of it. For instance, I now am part of a pretty tight community. We all speak the same language and look at each other with complete understanding.
On Friday I had lunch with Joe Rosario. He had his transplant more than 5 years ago. How did Joe and I meet? Joe came looking for me before my transplant because he knew what I was going through. He knows the loneliness and frustration that comes when no one else understands.
It was so cool that we immediatley hit it off despite never having met before. We have a lot in common. Because of our transplants we speak the same language. We’re part of the same community. I liked it. I have a list of new friends I haven’t met in person yet but spend time with online – Bill, Brian, Jeanne, Millie, Pam, Linda, Jake, Barbara, Betty, Tim and Joseph. I could go on. They are all part of the transplant community and we speak the same language. There’s a weird bond there that I can’t fully explain. I think it comes because we truly understand each other because of what we’ve been through.
People ask me about my faith pretty frequently. I think it’s because they are surprised I’m still into God and following Jesus after what I’ve been through.
Some see my faith in Christ as a limiting thing. Me? I’ve found it freeing. Similar to my transplant community but much much larger, I’ve found a bond that exists across borders and oceans. A commonality. I’ve experienced a mystical bond strong enough to compel us to support each other and help each other. I’ve found community with other Christians. Family. It sounds cliche but I’m pretty glad to be part of the family of God.
My liver transplant family is similar. My support group, full of people like Robin and I who have lost most of our worldly wealth, pulls together as best it can to help during financial struggles and particularly difficult times. It’s a bond, a connection. Caring. I’m glad to be part of my transplant family. I like being part of the transplant community even though I do not like what has earned me my membership card.
Family is like fudge; mostly sweet with a few nuts. That’s true of all the families I’m part of. In my Christian family there are nuts doing things that make our whole family look crazy. In my transplant family I’ve found some nuts promising miracle cures through sucking lemons and talking about their new livers giving them character traits of their former owners. It’s all good. I like fudge and I find the nuts to be an interesting surprise.
What communities are you part of? Do you have family even beyond your physical family? I’ve found a lot of people who are totally alone. That bums me out because I know there is most likely a welcoming community nearby that they are hesitant to check out. I’m talking about the people around you who are truly trying to follow Christ and do what he did. Some of them gather in white buildings with pointy steeples, some of them gather in homes and some gather in storefronts and movie theaters.
I know, I know, there are plenty of churches that are cold, boring, judgemental and unwelcoming. I apologize for that. They are nothing like Jesus. But, you don’t give up on restaurants because you’ve had some terrible meals, right? Finding community is important.
We all have good days and bad days. You don’t have to have a transplant to understand that. Sharing them in community is the glue of friendship and family.
I don’t recommend that you try to get a liver transplant so that you can join my liver family. I do recommend that you try out some local churches until you find the one that welcomes you and makes you feel at home. Your community could be right around the corner. And if you walk in and find that piece of fudge loaded with nuts, walk out and find another piece to try. Their are some sweet ones out there.
What do you have to lose?