elitefts™ Sunday Edition

It's Father’s Day today. While this morning, most guys are getting the royal treatment and all the gadgets they want and wearing T-shirts that say “The world’s greatest dad” on them, I have to work. This isn’t a complaint. The money is good, and I'm thankful for the job. So this is a fact, not a complaint being stated.

Back to those T-shirts...World’s Greatest Dad, Super Dad, and other combinations to be worn on this holiday are fine. But me—I'm wearing a shirt that says “Redemption.” It's the shirt I bought at a big commercial store the week my son was born. He had to stay a couple days longer in the hospital, and I needed a clean shirt. Whether it was by accident, subconsciously, or on purpose, I realized that this is the perfect shirt for Father’s Day.

Everyone is looking for something in life—new cars, houses, climbing the cooperate ladder. Some people spend their lives looking to get out of doing anything. They look for the easy way out. There are the people who are always looking for the escape—drugs, alcohol, food. All they want to do is feel differently than they do on a daily basis. Lastly, there are the folks who look to religion. I have at one time or another looked to all of these. Some of them (like God) still remain today. In all of them, I sort out the bad and hope what remains makes me strong(er). What I've realized is that all of it was pointing in one direction. It just took me years to realize it. I was searching for redemption.

Most of you are waiting for this long paragraph about all the bad things that I've been through and how I overcame them. There aren't any stories here. We've all been through bad things and chances are we'll go through more. Everyone has certain defining moments or events in their lives. Some of them are ongoing. We all have scars. I couldn’t trust someone who doesn’t, those “leave it to Beaver” people who think that everything can be solved in thirty minutes with a happy ending and a good catch phrase. Nope, that isn’t for people like me and probably you.

I can also tell you that I haven’t found redemption. To ask me if I've found redemption would be the same as asking me if I will ever be strong enough. The answer will always be no. I will always strive to be strong(er). Extraordinary resolve is a never ending pursuit—stronger outside, stronger inside. There will always be work to do. There will always be things to improve on. There will always be wounds to heal, things to cope with, and things I can never change. Lastly, I will never quit making mistakes. Even with mistakes, at least I know I'm on the right path. I'm searching for redemption from within.

To me, that is what sets people with a love of the iron apart. Most aren’t chasing the things that don’t matter like the approval of others or wanting to be a victim. Me? I want to purge the pain with blood, iron, and chalk. Lifting has become the one constant marker of progress. Every morning when I wake up and walk into my garage gym, I know why I'm there. I'm there for redemption, not an escape from a bad day or a bad time in my life. Every rep moves me further away from those bad times. Every PR is a sign that I'm moving forward. The strength that I gain on the outside moves me closer to redemption by becoming stronger on the inside.

On Father’s Day, I hope that whatever it is my children seek redemption for someday, it wasn't caused by me. I hope that whatever I've learned from my search for it, I can help them on their search. At the very least, no matter what they go through, I hope they know that they won’t have to go through it alone. There will always be a part of me that wishes I could guarantee that my kids didn’t have to suffer a minute of sadness, hopelessness, pain, regret, emptiness, failure, or loneliness. I would do whatever it takes. I know they will though, and my biggest hope is that by feeling those emotions, they will become strong.

So on Father’s Day, today, the greatest gift I could ever receive is the knowledge that I will never find redemption and I will never be strong enough but that I will find peace while working for it. Even though I know I will never find it, I can have some happiness in the fact that by searching within, pushing myself to the limit, and being a good husband, father, and friend, every day I'm getting closer. Tonight, when I close my eyes to go to sleep, I hope I can tell myself “you moved forward today.” Whether it’s a hug from my kids, five pounds on the bar, or just waking up with a purpose that morning, I hope that I moved forward. Yes, the scars will always be there, but I don’t have time to think about them. I have iron to move, redemption to find, a family to love, and a life to live for today, not for yesterday.

Happy Father’s Day.