Recently, I have been on quite a few hikes with my son Liam who is already 18 months old. He now has an opinion of his own- I do wonder if that is because he is a Linton or if it is a 2 year old thing.
Anyway, this Saturday we decided to go up the mountains for a hike. I put Liam in a backpack to carry him and we started up the steep trail. About 5 minutes in to our hike, he somehow communicated that he wanted down so that he could walk on his own. I let him down and let him attempt to climb up the steep dirt trail, knowing full well he wouldn’t be able to do it on his own. He began all smiley and determined, but after 3 steps, his feet slipped out from under him and he belly flopped right onto the ground, and since it was loose and soft dirt, there was a small cloud of dust. I just watched to see if he would cry, get up, or ask for help. He got up and walked 4 more steps, and then biffed it again. He got up a little slower, and this time as a concerned father I went and asked him if he wanted help. He used one of only 10 words that he knows (or that we understand) and emphatically and clearly said “No” and shook his head. I smiled and said “fine” and started wondering what Michelle would think of this whole exchange and the fact that each time Liam fell, another layer of dirt covered him from shoes to shirt to face, he was definitely eating some dirt each time he fell. The dirt was eventually so caked on his face that he looked as if he was just beaten up by a mob of 3 year olds. To my amazement he didn’t cry. he continued this cycle 3 more times and each time he got up a little slower and with less determination, but still refused the help each time I offered. I kept encouraging him and telling him to get up and keep following me. We moved 15 feet in what seemed like 15 minutes, but I was learning a lot. But then he fell again and as he was getting up, he slipped once more and as I offered my help this time, he accepted and waved me over to help him. I of course ran to help, I reached down grabbed his hand, pulled him up. He barely held on to my hand and it was just used to steady him and guide him ever so slightly. We moved a lot faster (like 50 ft. every 5 minutes) and as we came to big rocks embedded in the trail, instead of going around them or stopping, he held my hand a little tighter and he powered over them. We made it another 50 ft. and then he let go as the terrain got a little easier but each time it got more difficult the whole process repeated itself. This describes our whole hike, until he got worn out and he asked me to pick him up and I carried my little boy covered with layers of dirt to the car and then home to mom.
I started thinking how we in our lives are like Liam hiking up a difficult path (too difficult to go it alone), and if we are going to make it up the mountain and get over the big rocks, and get up each time we fall, and not slip on the loose sand, we need to know that a “steadying hand’ is there for us to hold on to. Those “steadying hands” guide us in the right direction, help us over obstacles, give us confidence to do things beyond our own ability, and comfort us after we stumble, offering us encouragement and hope after failure and falls. I thought of the “steadying hands” in my life and how each has impacted me and made it possible for me to move up the path and enjoy the journey. I thought of my parents, good friends, the living prophets, the scriptures (specifically The Book of Mormon and New Testament), and Jesus Christ himself. “Steadying hands” are always there, reaching out, watching us fall and helping us up. Sometimes we don’t want their help and we refuse it, but they never are too far away, they are watching and waiting to run to help us, just as I was with Liam as he ventured up the difficult path.
Liam Hiking Video