Tears, Laughter, and Uncomfortable Undergarments in the Holy Land

“Deborah, something’s not quite right.” My mother squirmed as she made this odd statement.

Sitting on a rock wall, looking over an olive tree garden outside the city of Jerusalem, I was an emotional mess. Mom’s declaration didn’t match the moment.

One of the great privileges in my life was visiting The Holy Land with my parents. We traveled with a group from our church, led by our pastor and music director.

I’m not sure I can convey the significance this trip holds in my spiritual journey. I’m a visual, tactile learner. To walk the roads where my Savior walked was overwhelming. Each stop, our leader would read from scripture and discuss what we knew to be true about the land, people, and history. We participated in beautiful praise services.

I looked out over the countryside of my namesake, Deborah the Judge. Walked the dirt path where the woman who bled for twelve years touched the hem of Jesus. Breathed the air of Galilee. Floated in the Dead Sea. Was Baptized in the Jordan River.

And on that day, I looked over an olive tree garden, flooded with emotions, as I pictured my Lord. Alone. Crying. Praying to His Father. The night before he was crucified.

I couldn’t stop the tears from streaming down my face. As in, I was creating a scene within our little group because I couldn’t pull myself together. The presence of God was tangible. This is where my Jesus stared His mission in the face. He would love me enough to die for me. In spite of His innocence, He would pay for my sin.

My mother sat on that wall, her arms circled around me, comforting me in the heavy silence of the moment.

This woman. The one who pointed me to God every single time I struggled. The one who pulled the car over to pray for people who were in accidents. The one whose solid faith in God shone brightly during her eventual terminal cancer journey. 

This woman comforted me for long moments.

And then she started giggling.

Our group had long gone on without us, leaving us to our tears. Which is probably why she chose this moment to share.

“Deborah, I went shopping for underwear before the trip.” She shifted. “And I don’t think I did it right.”

My gaze slid to hers. Was she for real? My forever modest mother, with a sense of propriety to rival the Queen of England’s, was discussing undergarments on Holy ground. I wiped tears off my cheeks, and tried to hide my smile. “What are you talking about?”

“The sales lady said something about boy shorts, and I thought that sounded comfortable.” The President of the Granny Panties Club whispered into my ear.

I covered my mouth to stifle the laughter. “Mom! Those aren’t comfortable at all.”

“I know.” She handed me a Kleenex. “This is what I’m trying to tell you. Who invented these? Nothing lines up the way it’s supposed to.”

And there we were. Tears turned to giggles. The gloriously deep with the amazingly shallow.

It’s what she taught me about life. You can have both. Even in the same moment. 

And so I think of her today, the 11th anniversary of her Homecoming.

Thank you, mom, for teaching me to sit in God’s presence. Allow the tears. And look for the laughter. 

You were a gift. And I miss you everyday.


Do you have someone similar in your life? I would love to hear from you.