I ugly cried in church last Sunday.
I’m not a big crier. Crying in front of someone or worse yet, lots of someones, is my #1 Top Most Embarrassing Thing Ever.
And yet there I was absolutely weeping. Mascara dripping, nose running, shoulder shaking, flat-out sobbing. I blame Jeremy Riddle and his song God of the Redeemed. Go ahead, take a listen.
I didn’t even make it through the first verse. “Love has come. We’re orphans no longer.” At that point it was all over. I didn’t have time to swallow the lump rising in my throat before the tears started streaming.
By the time it got to, “Hallelujah, to You, the God of the redeemed,” I was a complete wreck. All I could do was stand there, lift my face and cry. The tears dripped down my cheeks and into my ears, so many tears that my ears filled up and overflowed down my neck.
I cried in joy because I’ll see my boys and all my other Ugandan kids in a few short days.
I cried for my boys who were orphans.
I cried because I’m overcome that they’ve chosen me as their mother.
I cried for my son who used to think he was nothing.
I cried out of gratitude for a school that in tangible ways shows my boys they’re worthy of redemption.
I cried the tears of a thousand hallelujahs.
And when I ran out of tears, I stood in silence doing nothing, not singing a word, barely uttering even a breath. And in my quiet, in my stark nothingness, I stood and didn’t care how many people saw me cry. In that moment everything else ceased to matter.
I’d been looking for a gift to give my boys, something to remind them that they’re not orphans anymore, that we have claimed each other as mother and sons. I looked and looked, but nothing was right. And then I saw them.
Simple rings, one for me and three for them, reminders that love has come and that the best love often comes in unexpected ways. Meeting the love of my life when I was fifteen and filthy dirty from helping build a church in Mexico. Finding my sons 9,049 miles away. The baby in a manger who redeemed us all.
Love has come and it leaves me in such awe that it’s all I can do to whisper hallelujah.