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Josh Manson: ‘God Is Always There With You’

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Josh Manson

I’m not sure what the answer would have been on the question of “What are the odds you’ll have two pieces of content today, Dater, that will aggregate what two Avalanche players said on podcasts recently” but I would probably, conservatively, estimate that to be 10,000-1 or so. And yet, here we are. Avalanche D-man Josh Manson was on a podcast called “Sports Spectrum” and I, for one, found it to be great. To listen to the full episode, click here.

It’s a podcast about the intersection of sports and faith, something I’m very interested in these days. I think one of my big problems the last few years has been letting my own spiritual feelings and beliefs take a back seat to more worldly matters like career and status and all that other stuff. And, I’m still in one heck of a fight/crossroads about it all. I’m just not an easy convert/member of the flock. I have serious questions on everything, why we’re here, why things are the way they are, why it’s such an unfair world, etc. etc. etc. etc. etc.

A quick story: Back when I was 21 or so, I moved from N.H. to Cape Cod for a summer. The girlfriend I had at the time, Sheila, was big into the Lord and so, therefore, I was too all of a sudden. We went to a charismatic church together and I tried speaking in tongues and things like that. Basically, I started out just trying to impress her on all this, of course. I’m thankful there are no cell phone videos of me trying to speak in tongues, because I had no idea what I was doing or what any of it meant.

But here’s the thing: I have always been very interested in spiritual matters. I went to church with my mom as a young boy, and I got to know the Bible more, ironically enough, from a movie my father did with Johnny Cash called “The Gospel Road.” It’s the literal story of the Bible, up to the crucifiction, filmed on location in Israel and financed by Mr. Cash himself. It’s still very much a cult classic. My dad filmed some of it, did the sound on some of it and also played the part of Nicodemus.

(If you look at the movie credits on this classic, original poster of the 1973 film, you’ll see my dad’s name in there)

Despite being baffled by the speaking-in-tongues part, I really got into it. I had my interest in God and Jesus and the Bible all rekindled, and, as I tend to do with anything I get interested in, really immersed myself into it. I read a lot of books, including the Bible, and started to feel like this all would become the central part of my life. And, that felt good. I liked the feeling of “I’m going to live forever in heaven, and so why worry about making my rent this month?” Stuff like that.

Sheila and I eventually broke up, but God and The Meaning Of It All has never been far away from my mind. I was very disillusioned by some fellow church members, though, who said that if I didn’t quit college and just go to work for the Lord, even if it just meant bagging groceries all day at my local supermarket, that I would burn in Hell and not do God’s wishes. I thought, ‘God wants more from me than that” and basically told the parishoners to go eff themselves.

But I want to know what, if anything, comes next after we leave this mortal coil. For a long time, I had a fear of dying young. For instance: In my early days of covering the Avalanche for The Denver Post, I would worry myself sick – literally – that I’d die in a plane crash and that my dream job would be over before it really got started.

Like, I would stress for at least two full days before any flight I had scheduled. If we hit any kind of turbulence at all, I’d immediately bury my face in a hand and think, “That’s it. We’re going down.” Usually I just waited it out, but not before my blood pressure jumped about 50 points. A couple of times, I got so panicked that I truly did need intervention from flight attendants. Usually, just them talking to me would get me through. But, at least one of the times, a flight attendant just handed me a couple of those little bottles of wine and told me to chug them.

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As an older man of 57 now, I actually have little fear of flying now, or of dying really. For me, and I’m only speaking for myself, once I got into my 50s I stopped worrying about things like that as much. “I’ve lived a good life, I mostly accomplished a lot of the things I wanted to accomplish,” I’d tell myself, and so if it all ended at that moment, I’d be OK. We’re all going to die at some point, you know.

My problem is: I transferred the worry onto other things. Regrets. Beating myself up, over and over and over, for past mistakes. Chastising myself for some slip of the tongue, or some other undesirable stuff. If there’s any chance for me to beat up on myself for some imperfect moment, I’m going to do it. That explains some of my current mindset, which I’ve hinted at recently. I think I’ll be OK, but it’s been a real struggle of late.

I don’t want you to think I’m kind of fishing for compliments by saying this, though. That would actually only make me feel worse. I think I’ve only got so long for God to be proud of me, and right now I don’t think I’m there.

That’s what really worries me. But it’s so hard. I just can’t be one of those people who just goes along with everything and doesn’t question it. For me, I have a really hard time with questions to God like, “Why do young kids die of starvation God? Why do you allow that to happen, if you’re so kind and compassionate and don’t give anyone “more than they can bear?” 

I’m not too satisfied with the answer I get from clergy and others on that question. “Well, it’s just God’s plan.” Well, sorry, but that’s a crap plan then. Kids literally die from all kinds of horrible things – torture, starvation, neglect, abuse – and I just have to accept that it’s God’s Plan that that happens to them on their time on earth, but some bubble-headed idiot lives a long life of comfort and riches and “sin” and, yet, they get into Heaven too, if they just ask for a mulligan on their deathbed?

Sorry, but that’s illogical. And yet, I definitely believe there’s a God. There NO CHANCE this whole earth and universe just happened, without some intelligent design. Zero. Zip. Zilch. Nada.

Go ask an atheist sometime how the Big Bang started, and you’ll get a look of “I have no idea.” Yeah, sorry, but that’s bad science. Tell me how something was created out of nothing and duplicate that in a lab and get back to me. That’s where faith comes in. I just have questions about God’s Plan, I guess. But not too many. I sort of just think now that it’s all beyond our human comprehension, and we’ll either know what it’s all about someday, or we won’t. But I believe we will.

Which leads me to the words of Josh Manson on the podcast. Some highlights:

  •  When he was put in a period of uncertainty, whether the Anaheim Ducks would actually trade him or not at the deadline, as the new GM of the team hinted to him would happen, he put everything in God’s hands. “God is always there with you, but that was when you start to lean in a bit heavier and have to put your trust in Him a lot. ‘What does the future hold? Well, I don’t know, but you know.’ That was a big part, those couple weeks before the trade deadline – really leaning on Him, and just sitting back, but the anxiety hits, the stress hits. Just letting it all kind of go, and trusting in Him.”
  • “Where I ended up, it ended up being a huge blessing. Part of God’s plan. Little did I know it at that time.”
  • “They were hungry to win. … It was hard to feel that winning feeling again, but when I came into the dressing room it was “We want to win.”
  • “There were some questions to (God) as to why? I think I’d be lying if I said, ‘Why did it have to go like this?’ I think our plan was to stay in Anaheim. We enjoyed where we were, we had a house there and we made a lot of friends, put a lot of time and energy and blood, sweat and tears into that organization. We were wanting to stay. And so, there was a little bit of that ‘why? Why are we moving, God? Why is this happening?’ And then it kind of turned into, ‘Well, OK, look at the opportunity He’s presenting to you, in front of us.'”
  • “Then, it was just like, ‘OK, sit back, let it happen, trust in what’s going to happen.” But that’s an easy thing to do. And there were a lot of challenges with that, and a lot of prayer and a lot of reflection and talking to God and just trying to listen and have faith in what His plan was going to be.”
  • Manson said he doesn’t swear in the locker room, which is hard. Everybody swears in a hockey locker room. Some teammates started to pick up on that and think it was “cool” in a way.
  • Manson said he read the Bible every single day of the playoffs. He read for 30 minutes after lunch every day.
  • He said those two months of the playoffs were “the most conversations I’ve had with God I think, in my life.”

I know some people here will automatically rip me here for being “religious.” I’m NOT here to preach and judge and all that. I just wanted to share what I feel, in the context of what another Avalanche player feels.

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Adrian Dater - Kiss and Larry Bird fan. Writer with @Gambling and @Bookies, Avs Insider with 104.3 The Fan. Denver Post, SI, Bleacher Report alum, author of seven books.

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ericgren

Great article. I now have a greater respect for Josh. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I wouldn’t beat myself up over questioning God’s plan, I’m a pastor and even I do that at times. Keep asking and one day the answers will come.

Ryan Krueger

A lot of people question (especially Ukranians now) why God allows suffering. The bible, particularly the Old Testament is filled with violence, wars, cruelty and suffering. The bible/Jesus never claimed that life would be free from suffering but in exchange for our sins and the suffering we cause we will have eternal life in heaven. I know there are a lot of cynics about organized religion but pastors, churches, etc. are not exempt from flaws and causing pain and cruelty. Still, I have seen so much suffering and people in pain alleviating by the mostly good things churches do. My… Read more »

Sarah Yost

Great stuff AD

David Schwartz

Adrian
Very nice article. Good luck with your journey.

Marcella Hollie

Great article, I appreciate your honesty and openess.Well written👍🏻

Roger Hutton

Adrian. I admire you and Manson. I am a conservative Catholic and whole I am not a “God Squader or Jesus Freak” , I spend an hour daily on prayer. It makes a difference. Congrats.

GWood

AD, great article. I think a lot of people feel the exact same way and have the same questions. I was raised with structured religion, but its hard when you see how religions can be perverted by some and then twisted into something that is the antithesis of the stated intent. Its hard to explain, but you did a good job here. All you can do is be a good person and help others as much as you can. In the end, whatever happens, happens and if you weren’t a total shithead, you’ll be okay.

MLiden

I have much respect for Josh Manson and AD and anyone who isn’t afraid in this day and time to show their love for God and trust in his love for us all. Gif bless all of you!

Rob

AD, Great article! Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings. It is a risk putting yourself out there. I very much appreciate it. Manson seems like a great dude. I was really hoping that we would re-sign him and was very glad when we did. Keep up the great work!

Ted Grycel

I loved this article, absolutely loved every aspect of it. To show humility and boldness to expose yourself is truly inspiring. I am a Pastor as well, something about your site must attract us, ll! Biggest compliment we could give !!! Coming to the realization that we need God, no matter how or when it happens it the start of a transformation in us, from the inside out. I know someone is going to read this article and it’s going to spark the question of God in their lives, we never know when our testimony is going to impact someone.… Read more »

Tdub

Journey on, Adrian. God loves you no matter what……

peter martin

Another example of how relatable you are A.D. Love it.

I also notice lately, it seems like spiritual people are more grounded overall. Manson talks about his anxiety and then how he can let go of those feelings by giving them to God. So many people get hung up on things they can’t control, where it is much more effective to simply let them be. I’m thinking his return is a huge deal for this Avs team, and when we look back on it five years from now, we’ll be surprised at how much Manson contributed to being a winner.

Ryan

Love this AD! This is what journalism can be very short on… Humanity. I’ve reflected on the question of why a good God would allow evil to happen. What I’ve come to: the greatest thing in life is love which comes through free will, the ability to choose others above ourselves. If humans had no free will to choose, we’d just be robots following the algorithm written into us.

jimstrohmeier

nailed it

NickH

I’ve read tons of articles on this site the last few months and love the Avs coverage. I’m also a big fan of how open you are with your struggles because that takes guts. Thank you for sharing your faith journey. I’ve been a Christian since I was young. I currently work as a missionary for a ministry that is trying to get more funds and prayers to people who are serving youth outside of the US. I’ve also had my fair share of doubts and questions along the way. I’d encourage you to keep asking questions because Yahweh is… Read more »

John Mauss

Your honesty and openness create a personal relationship with your readers. I, for one, get more from your writing by knowing who you are. That is very rare. I always enjoyed Roger Ebert’s movie reviews more than anyone else’s because I knew something of Roger (and not just because we were in the same college tat the same time but because of how he wrote.). Also, a nice story on Manson.

Brenton

I appreciate the way you opened up about your journey in these last couple of articles. I’ve found it refreshing. Mental health and spiritual health are important and topics people tend to shy away from. I’m in my 50s (54) and can relate a bit to your perspective.

Matt Briggle

I’m there with you AD in the questioning thing. The only two things I can say is that I believer there is a God or Gods and that organized religion is complete BS. I will happily support anyone in their own spiritual journey no matter what religion or lack of they have since in the end all any of us are searching for with all these questions is some sort of inner peace and sense of meaning. The most important thing for me though is – Your freedom of religion also guarantees me my freedom from your religion.

jimstrohmeier

God bless you, my friend. I appreciate your honesty here. A lot of people wouldn’t put themselves out there like that. Your explaining a life story sounds a bit like what Nathan MacKinnon talked about on that great pod cast – when some players stood up in front of the other players and said their piece before Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals. I thought Nate saying he was still digesting winning the Cup, summed up my feelings too – I wish I could pinch myself .. lol It’s not about religion, which is a structure created (and ruined)… Read more »

Effem Ahl

Wow, AD! I love the candid convo. Just my $0.02 (that doesn’t even get you a gumball with inflation) – I think God is not so interested in controlling the events of our life as He is who we become by the events in our life. He’s interested in what character we develop through the highs and lows. If you have kids, you know you can’t control everything that happens to them, but you love them and want them to become amazing humans. Same with God; it’s about relationship. To me, it’s kind of freeing. And on bad days, I… Read more »

Last edited 21 days ago by Effem Ahl
dp10

I am agnostic when it comes to matters of faith and with regard to Christian doctrine specifically I am far closer to atheism than to believing in the historicity of a two thousand year old book. So when someone asks me what was there before the Big Bang, I just shrug with my shoulders because when it comes to beliefs, you are talking about things that are essentially unknowable with anything even remotely resembling absolute certainty. Having said all that I have profound respect for faith and people of faith. Faith, after all, attempts to capture constructs of the universe… Read more »

Todd

I’ve read you for years Adrian, and really appreciate all the Avs coverage and your take on hockey, etc, even though I don’t always agree. It’s refreshing to read some of your stuff lately on mental health and now religion. Makes you a real person. Great stuff man

Robert Romaniak

Would be cool if more professional athletes spoke out about their faith. Maybe it would lead to more people putting their trust in God.

dk

Go ask an atheist sometime how the Big Bang started, and you’ll get a look of “I have no idea.” Yeah, sorry, but that’s bad science.”

This statement provides proof that your understanding of both atheism and science is grossly lacking. Either that, or you are being willfully obtuse.

Of course, I’m happy to debate it, sans strawmen and red herrings though please…

The_Last_Ray_Gun

Yeah, kinda just skimmed the article after that. No point in giving serious consideration to unserious people.

dk

Funny thing is I’m not even an atheist…

hockeyhacker5

Adrian, one big reason I subscribe is because of your willingness to share about your life, whether it’s struggles or good times. That makes the whole publication feel more personal. As a Christian, it’s disheartening to see how many people have been given bad advice or experiences by professed believers who are utterly clueless, like the people who told you to quit college. Absurd. If a professed Christian says something that seems extreme and they can’t back it up from the Bible, they are just spouting nonsense and should be ignored. Have a great week!

Luke Waggoner

Been reading you since the days of All Things Avs, and never knew your religious beliefs. I think it’s become “accepted practice” to not let that kind of thing into your professional life, and I think that does all of us a disservice.

Loved reading this, and I’m not an even bigger fan of Josh Manson!

Aaron Rud

Makes me appreciate Josh a lot more.

joshwright

Great one, AD.

shanedogg

I concur with the comments here. Great article. You dont find these in the Denver Post. The freedom you have on this platform is refreshing, why I check it daily.

Also Adrian

Regarding your rich guy comment, Jesus said, “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven” or something to that effect. Many rich men do not struggle for necessities, so they have little or no appreciation for what is provided them daily. It’s not an absolute, there are wealthy Godly men. Just as there are evil poor men. And a deathbed mea culpa has to be truly heartfelt for it to count. Can’t just say “My bad” and croak, expecting to head on up to join “the… Read more »

Aaron Rud

Great podcast. Josh is a solid man.

Charlie Anderson

I have mad respect for you AD, always have. I don’t care about if you aren’t perfect, to me it’s just all about being “real”, and you got that my man, so I’m a fan of yours and always have been. To me there’s a big difference between religion and spirituality. Religion is what our overlords use(d) to tell us what to think and how to live (to keep us enslaved, think Dark Ages). Science has become the new religion or God in that sense, that it comes from above us, we can’t verify it for ourselves, and it tells… Read more »

Last edited 21 days ago by Charlie Anderson
John Hansen

Science has become the new religion or God in that sense … and it tells us what to think and how to live our lives.”

Charlie, you really don’t know what science is.

Bob Neal

As a Christian I very much enjoyed reading this article. It surprised me after reading about some of your phobias described in your article yesterday. I very much appreciate you being open with your beliefs. As most people have noted, it was refreshing to have someone write about this topic. I’ve also become even a bigger Manson fan. Take care.

Dennis

Mr. Dater:

Thank you for having the courage to share your thoughts and feelings around religion. While I do not believe in a God. I am very superstitious, and am having the very same struggles you are having. As to why bad things happen to good people,. There is No rhythm or reason, I don’t look for an answer, because there isn’t one; so I simply go with the flow of things as Neil Peart( Rush) said, why does it happen, because it happens, roll the bones. Best of luck to you, and stay safe.

John M Schlosser

The greatest answer I’ve ever heard to the question about “G-d allowing suffering” was contained in the movie, “Oh God!”, where John Denver plays a grocery clerk named Jerry who is visited, and then tasked, by G-d”, as played by George Burns. Hoping not to cause copyright issues, here it is: (John Denver) “How can you permit all the suffering that goes on the world?” (George Burns) “Ah, how can I permit the suffering?” (John Denver) “Yeah.” (George Burns) “I don’t permit the suffering. You do. Free will. All the choices are yours.” (John Denver) “Choices? What choices?” (George Burns) “You can love each other, cherish… Read more »

Maranatha

I’ve had those same questions/concerns as you. I gave my life to Jesus Christ about 5 years ago not knowing what I was doing but I was genuinely curious to find the truth on Jesus. The important thing to know about God and your salvation is you are saved by grace through faith. Grace is getting something you don’t deserve. We don’t deserve to be saved, but God has made a provision through faith in Jesus. Jesus died for you to take away your sin against God. What’s your sin against God? Review the 10 Commandments and if you’ve broken… Read more »

Jon Ben Jehovah
Jon Ben Jehovah

I really appreciated the candour & authenticity of your own story & journey, I think it helps others who have similar questions and experiences & who too might struggle with reconciling their beliefs & faith into our daily life experiences. It’s great to see how star athletes like Josh Manson share their faith as well. Imo I think It encourages us to keep the faith & keep moving forward no matter what. Thank you Lord Jesus.

David Evangelista

I love that you are asking tough questions. I don’t think that we should be afraid to ask the questions that haunt us, nor should we be satisfied with pat answers that don’t hold up to logic. I believe that the definition of faith is askew in our culture. Most people employ the word faith to mean something that people resort to when there is a lack of evidence that we can see to believe something. That faith is a blind leap into the unknown. Biblical faith, I believe, is a persuasion based upon evidence. We can have strong conviction… Read more »

Zach Flaig

Adrian—very meaningful post. My dad was a huge Avs fan and also a pastor. He died at age 52 from COVID complications in September last year. I cried watching the Avs lift the Cup this year, knowing how much he would love it.

All that to say—I understand hard things happening in life and having big questions for God. Every truly thoughtful person wrestles with those issues. Keep wrestling. You’re closer to the Kingdom of heaven than you know. ☺️ Much respect. 🙏

Last edited 20 days ago by Zach Flaig
Ronald Munoz

Love this article Adrian. My brother and I were pray for our boys all through the playoffs. Btw, bad things happen in the earth because the enemy is temporarily in control for the most part. It is our responsibility as Christians to use our authority in Christ to remove him from the situation.

Randy Phillips

Hey Adrian, Like many have said here, on so many levels, love your vulnerability. I’d like to gift you a tremendous little booklet through Audible (Tim Keller, The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness) and the only way I know how to do it is to get your email address. More than willing to explain if you want to email me

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