Reality and Redemption

D L Henderson
5 min readOct 17, 2023

--

October 16,2023

PART ONE: suicide

When I was going through the growing pains of adolescence, my relationship with my Dad grew worse and worse. One time in early adulthood I was so upset with him that when he came to my bedroom door to find out what was wrong, in tears mixed with great misdirected anger, I shook my fists in his face saying that I hated him. Looking back, I was expressing my hatred for myself. I thought I was a failure and useless in his mind and in his sight. When my mother had told me to go out and help in the garden, I thought he had yelled at me saying I was stupid… Soon after, my first true girlfriend told me her father said that I was a bum.

For whatever other troubles my mind was tortured by, the combination of the two adults condemning words initiated my attempted suicide.

Looking back it now seems pathetic and actually a bit funny.

You see, first of all, I think every father of every teenage girl thinks her boyfriend is a bum. His high expectations for her life makes his position quite clear and stringently firm. Now, I understand, and my correct response should have been to try to prove him wrong.

The event of my dad calling me stupid was simply a misunderstanding. While I had nothing going on to make me feel particularly good about myself, nothing was a constant feeling of disappointment or had risen to the degree of murdering myself. Besides, I realized much later and not long before his death that he was tending to replanting Mom’s tulips, which chore he hated, because he hates those tulips which were preventing him from watching the College football game on TV… Dad wasn’t calling me stupid, He was calling the tulips stupid.

Dad died on an Easter Sunday and the same day as my birthday no less.

The saddest part of this story is that sitting on my back porch with him in that Spring, I was so much looking forward to spending that Summer with him — for the first time as friends. It still brings up tearful emotions and regrets for all the wasted years… So many missed conversations…

PART TWO: signs of life

Still progressing through my extended adolescence and during those formative years of High School, a friend and fellow classmate was killed in an auto accident which severed the artery in her neck, and she died several days later in the hospital. All of our prayers didn’t seem to matter…

She was popular, because she was so nice. She had a great smile and laugh. She was a cheerleader, participating in class activities and supporting others in their pursuits. The whole class went to her wake at the Catholic Church. She was buried nearby.

At the wake, Dad had let me drive his car. The three biggest and most impressive young men rode with me. I have no idea why really, except maybe they weren’t so self conscious to be weepy, alone with me and the other manly men…

Years later, I’d go there every now and then, weeping and wondering if there was Heaven where she would be. That would be great and maybe I’d see her again.

Anyways, I’d go visit her grave and talk to God to assure me that she was in heaven. One time, a white dove suddenly flew up and fluttered away in the sunny sky. Another time, in the middle of the day, a young doe came out of the woods that were around the cemetery. That was a time when that deer should have been sleeping. With those doelike, reassuring eyes…

The last time I visited, I had a certain impression to leave her and her sister who had died much later and allow her to be undisturbed in heaven, in her new home.

Another classmate, a close friend of mine, rolled his car and had severe head injuries. I was very troubled, of course. I was so upset that I drove down to the local Park in the middle of the night and wept aloud and prayed, making the impossible promise that if God would save him, I would save all the trees. I think God understood that that silly promise was never going to happen, but He measured my request and found it satisfactory.

Now, I’m sure his family and his many other friends were praying for his recovery, also. Nevertheless, he recovered with some obvious brain injury, but he did recover and continued to heal more and more, living and working a normal life.

Never realizing the intellectual impact of these two experiences, I went on my merry way, missing the essential revelations that God really does exist, He really does care, and He truly gives comfort and healing in both earthly and eternal ways.

PART THREE: God remembers

Once, I was lost, because I had made a horrible mess of my life. I was on a road to nowhere. I took all my complaints to God, blaming Him for all the trouble in the world, and feeling free to do so, because I was alone in the middle of the high plains desert waiting to catch a ride to the Elysian fields of hippiedom in California.

God did not hold my complaining against me, and neither did He strike me down with a lightning bolt for my accusing attitude, saying, “God, it’s all your fault!”

Instead He led me to a hostel with fellow seekers and an elder missionary where God led me to accept responsibility for the mess I had made of my life, to turn to Jesus and ask forgiveness. Well, He does forgive. He began to lead me by lighting the way and with the help of other Believers and a beneficial opportunity to read the Bible and to apply its precepts into my daily living. There was no indoctrination — only freedom and opportunity. It’s been a long but continuing journey. He still faithfully and patiently leads and guides me — without scolding and blaming me for bad steps, but lovingly showing me the better path to travel.

“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:17, biblehub.com/john/3–17).

“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (biblehub.com/matthew/11–29).

--

--

D L Henderson

Born 1950; HS 1968; Born again 1972; Cornell ILR; Steward, Local President/Business Agent; Husband, father, grandfather; winner/loser/everything in between