11
Aug
16

What I’ve learned being an addict

(Disclaimer: these are my personal opinions- take it or leave it. Probably leave it.)

Man I started out writing this a couple times and wanted to write some elegant prose and an example of the Jews in the New Testament not recognizing Jesus as the Savior even though all their laws, performances, and observations pointed to the fact He was. But each time I tried to be formal I couldn’t write, so let’s just have a heart-to-heart.

I don’t think a majority of Mormons understand grace.

It’s the biggest problem in the church in my opinion. We just don’t get it. One time some dude from BYU wrote a book called “Believing Christ” and it helped some people –  a lot of people – and leaders started handing it out to people who had problems with perfectionism. When I was 17 that happened to me and I read the book and nothing changed and it scared me and I was like, maybe all this is a farce and I’m not happy and what the hell am I going to do.

In the book there was something called “the parable of the bicycle” where he talks about how his daughter wanted a bike and so he told her “save up your pennies and you’ll get one” hoping that she would forget, but she actually did it and he was like, ‘oh shi* I’m gonna actually have to buy this girl a bike’ – well it wasn’t completely like that- but basically he felt sorry because she only saved up $0.61 and bikes are a lot more expensive than $0.61, I know because I tried to buy one recently and instead I just lay on the couch a lot.

But he tells her basically that if she gives him the $0.61 and a hug and a kiss, he’ll make up the rest and get her this bike.

I think this is the root of misunderstanding grace in the LDS church.

I’m not going to speak for all Mormons, but for myself and a lot of my friends that have misunderstood this- we go around in our lives trying to save up as many pennies as we can so that if salvation costs $100, maybe with my amount of sins Jesus only has to spend 90$, or if I’m really good only $80 – or even worse – I’m not worth a bike so maybe he’ll be like my friend Chubby who would take a couch cushion and put it on the handlebars for me to ride while he peddles his bike (this is not safe).

This is false doctrine.

The truth is Jesus paid the $100. It’s already paid. We can’t take away from it or give to the fund.

As Lehi says, “Salvation is free.”

People here usually think to themselves, well then what is my part to which I usually respond- we have none. We’re saved. That’s what makes it infinite.

Well then why in the world would I repent then?

The answer: Because you want to.

It’s really that simple. Sin is just the process of putting other gods before God. If worshiping other gods works for you, great. No one condemns you. In fact God himself “granteth unto all men according to their desire… whether they be unto salvation or unto destruction”.

These gods provide temporary satisfaction, but nothing lasting to hold us through hard times. They also don’t provide unconditional love, the one thing we all want. For addicts like myself we learn this the very hard way.

So if someone wants to stop worshiping other gods before God, how is it done?

Only through grace.

The greatest blessing an addict has is that we learn out of necessity that we need a higher power to overcome. Before I recognized I struggled with addiction I thought the Atonement was activated when someone sinned and then you used it to repent and then you were made whole and didn’t use it again until you sinned or needed help with something.

Awful. False. AWFUL. FALSE.

Now I realize that using the Atonement is accepting the truth in John 15: 5 – “without me, you can do nothing”.

I used to think repentance was keeping the commandments. I now realize it’s admitting, daily, hourly, moment-to-moment, that I can’t.

No one can. All are fallen and lost. No one can keep the commandments. No one can do good.

My friend said the other day, “I feel it’s impossible to be good.” She is absolutely right.

I used to take comfort in being worthy. I now let go of that false god and admit that I’m not.

Admitting the inability to do good and daily, consistent, constant dependence on God’s grace, is the only way to “press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, and a perfect brightness of hope, with a love of God and all men” to eventually participate in the “perfect love that casteth out all fear” and become the “sons (and daughters) of God, and when He shall appear, we shall be like Him, see Him as He is, and be purified even as He is pure.”

It is the way to feel comfortable with God and “know him, and Jesus Christ whom [He] has sent.”

Once again, this is all a choice to know God if I want.

I’m glad we had this talk about grace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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09
Nov
15

On being a mental gymnast

My favorite character from the Office is Creed and without a doubt my favorite Creed moment is this:

That’s how I used to feel watching my sister do cartwheels.

I bring that up because in my church I’ve seen a lot of talk recently about gymnastics. Mental gymnastics specifically. The most recent convos is about a new policy not baptizing children of same-sex couples. (Some outraged, some vehemently defending it as though they gained a testimony of the policy itself. I feel if I asked God about it, he’d ask me how my home teaching was going. ((Which btw, is going awful as I shamefully have time each week for a 4-hour Cowboy game but not that. Probably why they are 2-6)).

But I’ve thought a lot about mental gymnastics. Years ago I went through a faith crisis- probably because my faith was built upon the wrong foundation. It was and still is at times awful. I find myself often doing mental gymnastics, and struggling a lot to find where my beliefs fit in.

I originally thought my faith crisis was not from God. I now believe it was.

You see, people think only believers use mental gymnastics. Those who believe that should come with me and talk with the people I’ve talked to, follow the people I follow, and see them try to explain away the miracles, faith, and profound spiritual experiences they’ve had. You’ll can find blogs upon blogs of trying to explain away the spiritual.

Or you could follow me to about 2 years ago when I was standing in the shower trying to say “the Book of Mormon is not true.” It came out like Jim Carrey in Liar, Liar.

Or you can follow me to a time 9 years ago in Stamford, Connecticut. It was there I was talking with a 29-year old wealthy bachelor in his home as a missionary. He wanted to get baptized a few weeks before, but I mean, c’mon- commandments are hard and being a 29-year old good-looking single man with money living a train ride away from NYC I would have a hard time committing myself to a holy life too. He told us he didn’t know the Book of Mormon was the word of God and alluded to no one really being able to know that. However 30 minutes into the lesson, our hearts connected and the Spirit came and while he was looking at me I said “I know you know this is all true- because you are feeling it right now.” His smile faded and he broke eye contact with me and looked at the ground very solemnly.

It was the last time he spoke to us- he didn’t want to don the leotard.

I don the leotard when I see friends who have left my faith tradition progress in their lives in a way I believe they couldn’t have within it. I do it again when I don’t see how it sometimes fits in my own life.

Yet there are also times like this weekend when during a vulnerable conversation my mom says “remember we have a life after this one, to see Him again” in a very matter-of-fact, non-pretentious, guileless way, that shakes me to my very core while the truth of it rings in my ears, heart, and mind.

The way this little old lady – who is not the most educated, barely reads the scriptures, goes to church with the sole purpose of seeing her friends, and complains about not wanting to go to relief society activities – said it pulled me out of the weeds for a moment and let me see the horizon. I knew for a second my mom at that moment was proof of the phrase “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

So I continue to struggle with ambiguity, playing the mental gymnastics game that all honest humans play because no one likes to feel the ground moving under their mental feet.

Jesus said: “Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” I hope I do.

Until then, I’m Josh Bolding. I’m a mental gymnast. And yes, I’m a Mormon.

Here’s to Rio 2016.

15
Sep
12

Hey, Listen!

I’ve been really unhappy lately. For like the past month or so. I think it started with my “zelda” moment. When I was young I used to play The Ocarina of Time with my friends Paco and Chubby on N64 (I’m not making up their names). But when we played that game we used to just run around doing dumb things, not following the storyline, because we didn’t like when Link got older. It got boring then. But in order to annoy the heck out of you, they give Link this fairy that, everytime he needs to do something to mature, says “Hey, Listen!” Eventually you get so annoyed by this fairy that you eventually follow what she says and progress in the game.

I’ve been trying to do my best to follow the Lord these past 10-12 months. I had taken huge steps of faith for me as He has asked me to give up certain things that has definitely made my life better. But I feel like  there comes a point where I’m trying to continue to follow Him, but I feel kind of confused about what to do next. So I try to go after what I want, because I feel like I can’t just be sitting around waiting for Him to tell me what’s next. However I’m starting to recognize that I’m naturally attracted to things that aren’t good for me. I don’t know why this is, but it’s a fact. 

In the past, in order to get out of these situations, the Lord would prompt me and tell me to flee from them. But now, I am starting to feel my heart saying “Hey Listen!” I’m starting to recognize when something isn’t good for me. But it is still so hard to stay away from those situations because my logical mind says, there is nothing wrong with this. I even try to talk the voice away and say “no you don’t understand, quit being scared, why are you directing me away from this… this is what I want!” But just like in the game the voice won’t stop bothering me. 

This has made me unhappy. How do I change what I naturally want? Especially when the options seem great? I have felt very alone and forsaken.

Until today. I had an interview in Dallas. On the escalator I was riding in the Dallas airport, a nice, young African-American man saw me and complimented me on my suit. Being overwhelmed with all my thoughts, I said, “thanks man, I have a job interview.” He responded “Well good luck on it… unless it’s not right for you. In that case bad luck.” I laughed and said, “you know I’ve been feeling kind of confused about it, I’m nervous as to what I should do.”

Manasseh was this Godsend’s name. With a smiling face and a seeming light in his eyes, he said “you know, when I was looking for a job, I wrote down everything I wanted in it- salary, paid vacation, type of job, everything. Then I took it to the Lord and prayed about it. And I promise you, He will take care of those things and help you find what’s right for you.”

We ended up talking for the next half hour. He mentioned how he takes that process he explained to me for all His decisions- dating, jobs, where he should live, etc. I wish I could explain how this affected me, but to keep a long story short, I broke down when I got back to my hotel. I felt so loved and so much peace. I know the Lord put this man in my way to let me know He is still there. I still feel some unhappiness but I love that He let me know that no matter how I feel, He is still aware and will help me. 

I usually end with some witty line, but I want to end with just things I’m thankful for.

-Manasseh

-Good friends placed timely in my life

-the ability to cry, which is something I couldn’t do for a few years

-wise advice

-good and bad experiences

-the feeling in my heart that says to “Hey Listen” so I can progress in the game.

 

23
Apr
12

Cool guys don’t look at explosions

I’ve never been good at making stuff. When I was in 2nd grade we had to make Santa Clauses out of construction paper and mine was so bad compared to everyone else’s that I just started crying. In front of the class. During a Christmas party.

Well for the past 8 years I’ve been trying to build something else. I’ve been trying to build something out of my life. I’ve worked hard to do it, put a lot of hours into it, and done my best. Yet even so, it has come out about as bad as my Santa Claus in second grade, minus the whole class being confused as to how I could be crying when cookies, juice, and presents were in the room.

Actually maybe it is exactly like that, because sure, it has looked good from the outside. I mean with the ability to make hundreds of people laugh in an auditorium, the church callings that have given me notoriety, the jobs that have had me rub shoulders with bigwigs, the quick-wittedness to never have an awkward moment- I know how to make it look good.

However, I couldn’t fool myself. The mansion I tried to portray to others, sometimes successfully, was just a shed to me. Behind the smoke and mirrors of confidence, happiness, and laughter was 8 years of depression, anxiety, insecurity, and isolation. All the things I tried to use to make my shed look good from the outside, never ended up filling up the inside. The hardest part was coming to the realization I was broken, because if I did, what if there was no way to be fixed?

Luckily one day after church I read Elder Holland’s “Broken things to mend.” In it he says that the Savior’s invitation to be healed starts with the words “Come unto me.” Elder Holland points out that the Savior is really saying, “Trust me, learn of me, do what I do. Then, when you walk where I am going,” He says, “we can talk about where you are going, and the problems you face and the troubles you have. If you will follow me, I will lead you out of darkness.”

Well I started taking those steps. I told the Lord, “Look, I’m going to trust this, and I expect something out of it.” And miraculously, things started getting better. I started to learn how to hand over my life to the Lord and have real faith. I have begun to learn who He is, and am starting to get glimpses into who I am and what my life can be.

You may say, “well Josh, ain’t that great? I mean you said yourself that your shed sucked. Look at what you are going to get.” Well sure, I believe that. But you have to remember, I spent 8 years in that shed. It has sentimental value. There are things in there I really loved. Or at least thought I did. And most importantly, as bad as it was, it was my shed. I was in control. It didn’t matter how bad it leaked during the storms or how hot it got during the summertime, it was mine. I could invite whoever I wanted over, and tell whoever I wanted to leave.

But now it’s not. In fact I don’t control anything. The only thing I control is letting God have control. And sometimes it’s hard. Because he isn’t just throwing out stuff I really like, but he has set charges to the foundation and has asked me to leave. I have reluctantly agreed, but I feel like I’ve had conversations with Him that have gone like this:

“You know I really like this chair, right?”

“Yes, I do”

“And this table?”

“Yes.”

“And this bookshelf?”

“Josh, how about you just leave?”

“If I do what are you going to promise me?”

“Something better.”

“Well, what exactly is better?”

“You’re just gonna have to trust me.”

And so reluctantly I have. Nervous about what He’s going to do with my shed, and with only glimpses in my head of what He has shown me is better. But that’s not to say that I don’t get that unbelievable temptation to run back in there and yell “no! stop! don’t!”

And I am by no means out of the woods. It is a daily struggle to say, “I’m here, what’s next.” In fact sometimes I ask it with my head down, not wanting to make eye contact and just whimper it for fear of what He might ask. The temptation to look back to see what He is doing with what I give Him is constantly there.

Really, sometimes the only thing that keeps me looking forward is the truth that my friend Jordan taught me this weekend- that cool guys don’t look at explosions.

19
Apr
12

I don’t know, I just work here.

One time in my mission I was being barraged by some guy on the street about my church’s more peculiar doctrines and practices. He had seen some show and thought he was a Mormonism expert and was just going off on me about a ton of obscure things about the church’s history. As he was on the topic of polygamy, he demanded of me “How do you explain that?” By this point I was almost laughing that this guy was getting so heated about a religion that he obviously had no interest in and so I responded,

“Look man, I don’t know. I just work here.”

I can’t remember how he reacted, but I’ve thought about that experience lately. As I’ve worked in journalism for my short stint, especially on the religious beat, I have learned so much about different religions. I have had my mind opened about faith. As a shameless self-promotion plug, I am going to post some of the most interesting things I’ve learned here:

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/700198897/Faith-and-the-millennials-Progressive-minded-generation-has-a-hard-time-relating-to-organized.html

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/700214889/Diffusion-of-faith-Immigrants-are-transforming-American-Christianity.html

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/765558232/The-God-Gaps-Why-religious-affiliation-and-attendance-effect-US-politics.html

As I have been writing, I have been trying to really decipher what “faith” is. I’ve met some incredible people who have pointed me in the right way, such as former NBA player A.C. Green who, although being a 17-year-old All-American and having a full-ride scholarship to the number 1 basketball school in the nation, asked his pastor if he needed to give up basketball to know God.

That’s faith.

I also admired the faith of the “It Gets Better” video filmed here at BYU. These people who deal with same-sex attraction at the most socially conservative campus in America must be admired. Their ability to find self-acceptance and the love of God was inspiring to me. The video opened my mind and i wrote about it here… http://www.deseretnews.com/article/765566664/BYU-groups-seek-to-understand-students-with-same-sex-attraction.html

The video has also created a lot of good discussion about the gay and lesbian community in the church. And I think it’s great. I know even though I consider myself to be pretty open-minded, to have had some closed-minded views on this community previously in my life. It’s also hurt me to think about some of my friends who have same-gender attraction and how they struggle to fit into the church.

Do I believe I know how things will be in the future in my church? No. Will same-gender couples ever be allowed to marry or live in same-gender relationships in the church? I don’t even know what’s going happen at 5 p.m. today in my own life, I don’t pretend to know what’s going to happen in the future of my church. I believe in “all that God has revealed and believe He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the kingdom of God,” (AofF 9). I can’t stand people in my church who think they know how things are going to be.

That being said, I also don’t have much patience (and that’s a personal problem) for people who advocate against what has been revealed. I once interviewed someone in the church who is in a pretty prominent position and likes to vocalize what they think about the gospel. They accept the traditions Mormonism has, yet when it comes to hard doctrine, they try to create the church in the image of their own God. They aren’t just skeptical of certain doctrines (which I think is healthy for internalization), but openly challenge them.

I find that inconsistent with the statement in Doctrine and Covenants that says, “whether by my voice, or the voice of my servants, it is the same,” (D&C 1: 38).

The reason I can have that attitude isn’t because I am blindly following faith. When I was 12 years old, I did a serious study of the Book of Mormon. I came to understand the promise given in the Bible that “any man should do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.” (John 7:17). The Book of Mormon changed my life, I knew it was God’s word and truth doesn’t change. I knew that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints was true, led by living prophets. I knew then and now know God lives and the only way to happiness is through following his commandments, despite believing I know what’s best for me and others.

And so as I have learned certain things and tried to develop my faith, I have put them in the context of what I already know to be true. And I’ve learned that what faith really is, is to take something from God that may not make sense, or that may go against what I want, or even what I think is right, and just follow it. And as I’ve done that, I haven’t had to have answers for everything, I’ve been able to take things on faith.

And that sometimes leads me to say,

“Look man, I don’t know. I just work here.”




Battle of the Alamo

"The enemy has demanded a surrender at discretion, otherwise the garrison are to be put to the sword if the fort is taken. I have answered their demand with a cannon shot." -William B. Travis

evolution of thought

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