I guess all teenagers remember their first car accident. Mine occurred when I was in my first year in college. After spring break, I was driving back to school. The traffic was unusually heavy, and I was rushing and following too closely. Almost before I knew what had happened, I slammed into the car in front of me. It was clearly my fault, and I knew that there was no way of getting out of this.
As I answered the police officer’s questions, I fought back tears. Thankfully, the damage was not as bad as I had anticipated, and I was still able to drive the car. In those days before cell phones, I waited until I reached the dorm before I made that dreaded call.
As I finished the trip, I rehearsed the various scenarios in my head. I prepared myself for the worst. How was I going to tell my father? He had given me this car with the expectation that I would take care of it. I wondered what would be waiting for me at the other end of the phone line — a good talking-to, a lecture on responsibility, maybe I would even be forced to relinquish the keys for the remainder of the semester.
I trudged up the stairs in the dorm and made it to one of the phones in the hallway. I slowly dialed the number, anticipating my fate. When my Dad picked up the line, the whole story in a wave of emotion tearfully spilled out. I was talking fast, apologizing, trying to explain about the traffic.
When I finally paused for a breath, my father broke in, “Are you alright?” He sounded concerned.
“Why, yes, Dad, I’m fine,” I responded.
“Anything else can be fixed,” he said simply.
With that, it seemed to be over. I got no lecture, no angry voice or yelling, just clear instructions on what to do next. Before we hung up, he told me not to worry. He promised that he would drive up one day that week to look at the damage and call the insurance company. He told me he loved me and would see me soon.
When I got off the phone, I breathed a sigh of relief. I was not relieved to have escaped punishment. Instead, I was assured of my father’s love not just when I was making good grades and staying out of trouble, but when I made an error in judgment that would certainly cost him time and money. I have never forgotten how calm his voice was that night.
My father has shown me many examples like this of my Heavenly Father’s love over the years. In this month that celebrates fathers, I thought I would share a story about mine. Thanks, Dad, for that night when your love overshadowed a mistake, which seemed very big at the moment, and for countless other selfless acts, many of which I am aware and others that I am sure I will never fully understand.
Deana Johnson lives in Laurinburg.