“When I have nothing, I have everything to give.” -Kristen Craig

by Meredith Angeline Hinton

I spent the weekend in Winston Salem with rising 6th graders working on and off sites around the Children’s Home. While there we did landscaping, and hard down-and-dirty work. It was amazing to see 6th graders focus their never ceasing energy into beneficial selfless work.

I had the opportunity to meet an amazing woman named Marian. She caught my eye from the beginning when I walked into the cafeteria Friday night with my rambunctious group. She stood at the front of the room signing to her adopted daughter,Vikki.  Marian’s passion was captivating. I couldn’t stop staring as she moved with grace and speed exerting all sorts of signs in animated communication with Vikki. I had an opportunity to speak with her Sunday morning before we left. I learned that any encounter with Marian is powerful. I learned that Marian speaks and communicates a love far beyond what  most people I know. I asked her about her life, what it meant to love people, and that she offer wisdom to a girl still trying to figure it all out. Her response was selfless, humble, and inspiring. She said, “If you want to love people you have to learn to speak their language. If they speak Spanish, speak Spanish. If they speak slang, speak slang. If they communicate through sign language, learn sign language. You have to meet people where they are. Be ready to walk down the street and take off your shoes to give someone. Be ready to give away your coat and remember to wear two shirts because you should probably be ready to give away one of them, even your underwear. You can’t be afraid to lose anything; you have everything to give. I’ve been held at knife point and my life has been threatened but I just told them they could have whatever they wanted from me but they couldn’t take my Jesus.  I told them I was there to give to them, not take away.”

As the rest of the crowd gathered in the cafeteria Sunday morning the session started keeping our conversation brief. While I watched Marian sign to Vikki I developed a completely different understanding of what it means to be alive. When we are alive we are meeting people’s needs. When we are alive we are paying it all for the ones we love, even our enemies. When are are alive we give. We give until there is nothing left. When we are alive we relentlessly press forward with confidence in the love that changes everything. When we are alive we offer mercy, grace, and speak the language the people. When we are alive we have everything to give and nothing to lose. When we are alive others com first and we come last. When we are alive we do not support war, violence, hatred, hunger, racism, or death.  When we are alive we bring life, everywhere.

Marian brought life to me.

Who are you bringing life to?