My dad’s no contender for an Olympic gold, but for as long as I can remember he has run nearly every day. When I was a young boy I would often accompany him on my bicycle for his Saturday morning jogs.
We’d begin by choosing the proper athletic attire. Dad always wore the same thing—shorts, an old T-shirt, and a pair of beat-up running shoes. I would choose a uniform or at least something with a team name on it. I figured if I was going to do anything athletic, I’d have to be representing someone.
Then we’d always do the traditional pre-run stretch, which included putting our legs on several different pieces of furniture, pushing, lots of grunting, and several official ballet positions, I’m sure.
One Saturday when I was nine or ten years old, I remember hopping onto my red and black bicycle, complete with broken chain guard and peeling checkered decals, and heading off for a morning of healthy exercise. The morning was warm, and the rising sun held a promise that the mercury had only one direction to go—up.
We set out and quickly settled into a comfortable pace. I believe it was my dad’s love of the mountains that seemed to draw us up to the mouth of a nearby canyon. The last hill was quite a steep climb, especially for a nine-year-old boy on a broken bicycle.
As the hill came into sight, my father said, “Go ahead and build up speed; do what you need to do to make it to the top.” I then did my best Greg Lemond imitation, pumping my legs as fast as they would go, building momentum to carry me up the hill … which got me all of about 15 feet up. I quickly lost speed and began imagining myself jumping off my bike in admitted defeat.
I kept pedaling as hard as I could, but my morning bowl of cereal was failing me. I tried my best and pedaled with everything I had. Somehow I kept moving! To my surprise, my scrawny legs were propelling my equally scrawny body and red bicycle up that hill. Ha!
It was amazing. Halfway up the hill I turned to look back at my dad. It was then that I realized why I kept moving. There was my dad, with his hand placed gently on the back of my bicycle, pushing me to the top. By the look on his face and the gasps of air that he gave, I knew it was extremely difficult, but he continued until we reached the top.
Though I’ve long since outgrown the red bicycle, my dad continues to “run” with me now. I can feel his influence every day as I prepare to head out. The “uniform” I wear today consists of a white shirt, dark pants, tie, and nametag bearing the names “Elder Steadman” and “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”
Throughout my life, my father has helped me up countless hills. He helps me prepare and warns me of hills in my future. Whenever I think of jumping off in failure, he urges me to work my hardest and gives me the extra strength I need to make it. Sometimes I don’t notice his help, but when I turn to look back at my accomplishments, I soon notice that I haven’t been alone.
Not only has my dad taught me how to be a good father someday, but he has also shown me how to be a son, his son, as well as a son of our Heavenly Father. My father truly reflects the light of Christ and His love.