Donny's Ramblings


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The Journey: Ranting and Admission of Failures

I fancy myself as being able to let go on this blog. To make myself totally vulnerable. To hold nothing back.

In reality, that’s not the case at all. Sometimes I feel like ranting, as I did near the beginning of this journey, but I’ll stop myself from doing so.

Why do I do so? Why do I keep negatives bottled inside?

Fear. Fear of losing everything positive that’s been happening in my life. Fear that others won’t want to read what I write or listen to me speak if I let out every aspect of Donny…

If I loose myself on the world, so to speak.

What do I mean?

I want to write about everything going on inside of me. It’s a huge release to let it out on “paper”, and I want to remember all of this journey. Every step. I want to talk about feelings where I question my own sanity. I want to talk about the times I’m sexually tempted, but how I combat those temptations by reminding myself of all that has changed about me, all that I’ve given up, and how disappointing it would be to make those changes mean absolutely nothing at all by giving in to temptation.

I want to admit to being set off every time I receive another check in the mail with Belinda’s name on it. Or another letter from the bank financing her car.

How hard can it be to call these people and change your address? How hard can it be to tell the bank financing your car that you no longer work for me, so they’ll stop calling if you’re a few days late with your payment? How hard can it be to give them your new number so they’ll stop calling mine? And what in the world makes you think it’s okay to have my replacement relay messages to me? If you want to let me know where to send your mail have the respect to tell me yourself.

I want to admit that it hurts when I find out Belinda’s new boyfriend has changed his MySpace title into a very personal message to me (click here to see a screenshot of it), and the pain is multiplied once I see Belinda posting on a public message board that the message comes from both of them.

But I hold that back and don’t write about it.

I want to admit that such things make me wish to steal from her every good memory we’ve ever had together. I wish I could remove all of those from her mind. She doesn’t deserve to remember the NUMEROUS great, amazing times we had together. She doesn’t deserve to remember my son, who loved her so much.

Sometimes I’m spiteful and will send a text message or email that reflects my mood. The purpose? To steal memories. To replace any positive thoughts she has in her mind about me with negative thoughts. To purposefully poison the past so that it no longer brings a smile to her face. To be in control of how she thinks of me. It’s SO WRONG to be that way, yet I still do it once in awhile.

But I hold that back and don’t write about it.

And then I stand up on a stage in front of hundreds of people and talk about how God has saved me and changed my life. Hypocrisy, no? And I do hate hypocrisy.

This inner struggle, this turmoil, this cycle… I don’t beat myself up about it. I find it beautiful for some reason. I love it, yet hate it, all at the same time.

I haven’t given in to physical temptations, and for that I often congratulate myself. But isn’t it just as bad, or worse, to give in to spite by sending negative messages to Belinda from time to time?

Besides, those physical temptations really aren’t that big a challenge for me. My past has given me plenty of tools to combat them. They’re a relatively easy battle to win. My biggest problems are my ego and my stubbornness. I lose those battles almost every time.

I’m not the smartest man, but I’m beginning to think there’s no perfect solution to these problems. They’re a constant battle over which victory is going to take much time. Much effort. Much pain.

Is it crazy that I look forward to the fight?


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Emotional Roller Coaster, a Healed Ear and a 45lbs Lighter Donny

I started writing this on April 3rd, 11 days ago. I wrote most of it, saved it as a draft, and haven’t returned to finish it. Today I intend to do so.

Before becoming a Christian, I’d never seriously considered ending my life.

Ever.

Ever ever ever.

So after surrendering my life to God… after He begins doing amazing, powerful, profound things for me… after having real encounters with the Creator of the Universe… why is it that after all of that I arrived at a place where I seriously wished to die?

This happened just a few days short of a month ago. John says I played it down when I very briefly mentioned it in my “Dear Daphne” letter. He says I did so because I’m afraid that if I tell the truth people won’t like me as much. People might stop reading my blog. People might think I’m not really a Christian. People might think I’m crazy and, as such, might not want to listen to me speak.

John is very blunt. I love him. He’s my best friend and he knows me pretty damned well. He calls it like he sees it and trusts me enough to know I won’t be offended when he does so. He knows I respect that about him.

And really, what is there to be afraid of? I discuss everything here, and because of that I’ve received dozens of emails thanking me for being transparent. Telling me that this blog speaks into the lives of many.

I feel that’s what I’m supposed to do here. I feel that very strongly.

So now I’m going to tell you about the emotional roller coaster I was riding.

It felt like the world came crashing down on March 16th.

On that day:

– I’d just settled in to a new place to live after the bank took my house. The new place isn’t nearly as comfortable as what I’ve been used to, and having two roommates takes a bit of adjustment, especially when you have to share a bathroom with one of them.

– That afternoon Wendy let me know that there’s no hope for reconciliation on any sort of romantic level, and when I heard her reasons for feeling that way I knew she was serious.

I had to face a very serious issue from my past that I’ve been trying to forget.

– I was still upset that, the day before, a man from the adult industry… a man I used to consider a good friend… publicly posted the following message to me, where hundreds if not thousands of people could read it:

If you think you are some reborn Christian, you have lost it. Seriously, I anticipate the day I hear/read about you offing yourself, and I will state now that not only does it not surprise me, but it doesn’t sadden me either. You have inner demons that must be cast out, and at the rate you are going, death is the only thing that will help that along.

– Feelings of rejection (Belinda) begun raising up inside, once again (sometimes I still can’t wrap my mind around how someone can move on so quickly after 6 years of being together – deep inside I know it was my fault, but that doesn’t always satisfy my questions).

– My counselor was out of town.

– My dad, too, was out of town: on vacation for the entire month.

I started thinking, “Lloyd’s right. I should do the world a favor and take myself out.”

I don’t want to discuss the full details of that day because, looking back, I am very embarrassed to have felt that way at all. But I will tell you what kept me from parking my running car in a garage at my former residence, where my garage door opener still works, and listening to music until I went to sleep: I ended up making a call for help. That call brought me down to earth enough that I deciding to check myself into a mental hospital instead of doing something really stupid.

The hospital turned me away. It was after normal admissions hours.  I was informed that in order to be admitted I’d need to go to the emergency room of a regular local hospital and ask for a counselor to be sent.

On the way to the ER I became angry and asked myself what the hell I was doing. Why was I being so stupid? It turned out not to be necessary to check in. Simply attempting to admit myself made something change inside of me, so instead of going to the ER, I went directly to the church for Friday night service…

where God healed my ear. It had been hurting pretty badly for several days. During the service, a man whose name I don’t know started praying for it. Less than 10 seconds into his prayer I started hearing popping noises, the pain went away, and it hasn’t returned.

How can one continue wallowing in self pity after God heals their ear?

God, that was a really good way to refocus my mind back onto you. Thank you for that.

The next day I read Donald Miller’s To Own a Dragon. I was very embarrassed about how I’d felt the day before. How could I have allowed such thoughts to enter my brain?

I was feeling normal again.

For a few days.

The beautiful conversations I’d been having with Wendy were over. There’s nothing more intimate than connecting with words and being on the same page. But that intimacy had to stop.

Once again, I started feeling like I had nobody who truly cared. I bought into that lie. I didn’t sink again to a level where I wanted to die, but I sure was feeling sorry for myself. Today I can’t even remember why.

Because of all of this I realized I was giving myself way too much free time to ponder things that don’t need to be pondered. I immersed myself in work, which is why this blog hasn’t been updated as regularly as I’d like. Dealer Web Concepts, the business I started to help auto dealers with their internet marketing needs, now services 7 auto dealerships in 4 towns. I had to drop one client due to a conflict of interest with another. That turned out to be a good thing, however, because I have no idea where I’d find the time to service them.

Is now a good time to take a break and mention that I’ve lost 45 lbs? I haven’t been at this weight for almost 6 years. Not long ago I read a comment made on an internet message board by Belinda’s new boyfriend, alluding to him wanting to be “the bigger man” and I couldn’t help but snicker a little. Because now he literally IS the bigger man. But I digress.

Dear God, you’ve allowed me to work past my hatred of Mark to the point where it no longer exists, now please help me lose the residual bitterness as well.

Besides immersing myself in work, I’ve begun attending more home groups. Surrounding myself with like minded people works wonders. When I was growing up, the churches I attended never had small groups. Are these a relatively new creation or were we just clueless? Home groups are amazing! And the churches I associate with have so many to choose from! I attend a Singles group, a Single Parents group, a Christian Sportsman group and another group that wouldn’t quite fit into any particular category.

Feelings of being “alone” no longer exist.

As a Christian I’m still an infant, but I’m loving every experience, good and bad. I’m so far from perfect it’s not even funny. Thank God for Romans 7 verse 17-25. I’ve used those scriptures to help lead others to surrendering their life to God, but I personally find a lot of strength to stand back up each time I fall down.

Here’s Paul, the man who wrote the majority of the New Testament upon which literally BILLIONS of people have lived their lives, talking about his personal struggles. Not struggles he USED TO HAVE, but struggles he faced as a Christian, all the time. “The Message” translation says it best:

But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help!

I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it.

I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway.

My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.

It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up.

I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.

I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question?

The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.

As Rob Bell talks about in the first of his Nooma videos, so many people think being a Christian means you have to have your life in perfect order. But Jesus himself said he didn’t come for those who have it all together. He came for the sick.

Thank God for that.


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To Daphne

You’re right, Daphne, most of what people will say to you is going to be trite. There’s simply not a whole lot of substance that the majority of the population will be able to offer to you.

I know how you feel. I can offer that much to you. Perhaps I don’t know EXACTLY how you feel, because nobody can know that. I don’t have magic answers for you, either. I just know that it was a very short time ago I wanted to check myself into a mental institution because just minutes earlier I was planning out how to end my life.

And that happened AFTER I became a Christian.

“God, what’s wrong with me? I SHOULD feel on top of the world, but I don’t! You’re doing so much in my life, and I even feel your presence all the time. Why do I still feel this way?”

The answer is that I have no idea what the answer is, Daphne. I simply can’t understand how those feelings still enter my being. I’m sure you feel the same.

Daphne, I’m just an overweight ex-porn-producer who gave his life to God on September 25th. Yesterday made 6 months for me. God has given me so much, yet I still feel like a failure much of the time and feel despair on a regular basis. Then I feel like more of a failure for the mood swings I keep having. My mood changes from being on top of the world to feeling really low. There’s no reason for it, but for some reason it happens anyway.

Why do I mention all of that? I dunno. Probably to just let you know that you are not alone. Sometimes that helps. Sometimes it doesn’t.

I can tell you that I’ll pray for you, and while that’s true, I’m sure that offers little comfort. It’s just another trite thing to say. I will pray for you, for sure. But I’ll also ask God if there’s anything he wants me to tell you.

I don’t have an answer to your need for a family, Daphne. I live in Redding, California: 500 miles north of you. And the only people I really know in LA are in the porn business. “I’ll pray for you to find what you need” just seems like worthless words.

What I do know is this: you’re a talented writer. You’re an amazing artist. You’re a beautiful girl. Looking at the photos in your profile, my heart skips a beat. That, my dear, is not some trite sentence. I mean it. I know you feel broken right now, but from the little I can learn about you on MySpace it sure looks to me like you’ve got some really good ingredients sitting in your bowl. You can use what you have to bake a really beautiful cake. You’ve got the makings of something very good.

And, look forward to this: there are hundreds, thousands, perhaps millions of other girls out there who feel just like you do. If you can reach inside and find a way to get over what you’re feeling right now… if you can find a way to step on Satan’s head and tell him that he’s not taking you down… then at some point in the future when another person comes to you asking for the help you’re seeking right now: YOU will be able to help, instead of posting trite replies on MySpace.

That, dear Daphne, is PURPOSE. That’s something to hold onto. You matter, and God wants to use you to help other Daphnes that he loves so dearly. I want to tell you something I learned recently, about Jesus. Perhaps Jesus isn’t what you want to hear about right now, but I’m gonna tell you anyway:

In Jesus’ day, children received their education from Rabbis starting around age 6. Between age 10 and 15, the rabbi would start to consider which of the kids he taught was good enough to carry on his yoke (his yoke = his way of teaching the Torah, or scriptures). He’d tell those who were “good enough”: “Come, follow me”. Those who were good enough would then have the honor of following that rabbi around for years, learning how to teach about God in the style of their master. The rest would be sent back home to learn the family business. They weren’t good enough to carry on the Rabbi’s yoke.

When Jesus called his disciples, you’ll notice he went to the losers. They’d been cast aside by other rabbis and sent home to learn the family business. He went to them and said, “Come, follow me.” He was saying “YOU are good enough to carry on MY yoke. You’re good enough to do my work and carry on my traditions. I don’t care if others have cast you aside, I am telling you that you’re good enough to do what I need you to do”.

I hold on to that when I feel like a failure. How can I be a failure when God himself, in the form of a man, has told me I’m good enough to carry on his yoke?

Daphne, you’re good enough to reach other people for Jesus. He wants you to be part of his family, and to help the rest of his kids through you. It doesn’t matter how often you fail. All that matters is that you get up one time more than you fall down. He’ll give you a huge hug and sit you on his lap, wiping away your tears. I know, I know, it sounds trite. But it’s so true.

I hope you find the physical family you’re looking for, but you’ve already got a spiritual family. God himself is your father, brother, and even your lover (yes, God is a lover – read Sex God by Rob Bell if you can – I’d also recommend reading Donald Miller’s Books: Blue Like Jazz, Searching for God Knows What, To Own a Dragon – you’ll SO identify with them, and I’d be happy to send my copies to you). And there are many of us in your spiritual family who can identify with how you feel. We’re here, even if it sometimes doesn’t feel like it.

(I’d like to ask all readers to please keep Daphne in your prayers. She’s having a rough time right now.)


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Who Am I Kidding?

Like I’ll ever be able to shut my mouth

Last week was a hard week. I felt like a miserable failure due to something that happened more than a decade ago. I’d tried forgetting about it, and had been able to do so to an extent. It rose up and smacked me in the face.

The thing is, I had yet to bring it to God in prayer. Nor had I asked for his forgiveness. Even after doing so, I still felt worthless. I still felt unusable. I felt like life was over.

Ridiculous to feel this way? Sure. Yet some of those feelings linger still. My initial reaction was a desire to shut down every unnecessary action and lock myself in a cave somewhere with nothing but my Bible and some Christian books, hoping that God would eventually forgive.

I’m not going to let feelings of shame keep me in a gutter. I’ll ask God’s opinion on how to address this properly, do so, and keep moving forward.

Hiatus over (as if it ever really began). I like it here. I’ll just keep reminding myself that I’m still a broken man. The fact that I am broken doesn’t mean I can’t be fixed. God’s grace and forgiveness covers ALL sins, even those that cause us to feel worthless.

Let’s see if I can learn something from this. Sometimes it seems an individual’s mistakes end up making them a better person. Let it be so, God. Let it be so.

________________________

By the way, Donald Miller‘s To Own a Dragon is an amazing book. I read it this weekend.


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Meltdown: Crash and Burn

Last Friday night:

I’m leaving my best friend John’s house. In just a few hours it will be my birthday. John has given me good advice about the situation at hand.

“Why did she pick this day of all days, John?”

“Go home and forget about it. Just go to sleep or something. Forget it. What good will it do you to keep thinking about it?”

But my feelings are hurt. I feel betrayed. I feel unimportant. I feel rage, but the rage is now being fueled by vodka and orange juice as I sit alone in my house. The stop at Raley’s Supermarket to purchase this beverage, a beverage that was intended to put me to sleep, turns out not to be such a good idea.

I drink into the wee hours of Saturday morning.
I crash and burn.
I melt down.
In public.

———-

The meltdown was witnessed in one of the last places where it should have happened: an adult webmaster forum where pornographers from all over the world converse with each other online. Thousands of them, all of whom knew Donny had become a Christian.

Except, now they’re seeing Donny act very unlike a follower of Christ. Donny is getting into arguments with some. Tearing down others.

Tearing down Belinda.
In public.

Complete failure.
In public.

———-

Belinda and I played a sex game for 10 months that ended in February of this year, 7 months before I surrendered my life to God. Perhaps someday I’ll share with everyone what I learned about stupidity, pride, ego and relationships from that experience. But let’s suffice it to say that even now, despite spending months and months trying to deal with the wages of our sin, it still is allowed to influence the lives of all involved.

That game had a lot to do with this meltdown.
I’m still influenced by past sins that ended months ago.

I try to make myself feel better by pointing out that others played a big part in all of this.

“Yes, I did ___, but they did ___!”

That logic doesn’t stop my stomach from churning. Even today, almost a full week later, my stomach is still a mess. It grumbles loud enough for people to hear it 20 feet away. I am that disgusted by my actions.

Thousands of eyeballs in the adult entertainment industry are watching me. Many doubt my “conversion” is genuine. This sure didn’t help alleviate that doubt.

———-

Three weeks ago I met a counselor at a small group meeting. She’s also a published author and writes for a well known Christian magazine. I emailed her and asked if she’d be interested in writing about my “testimony” for the magazine. In response, she very bluntly let me know that I do not yet HAVE a testimony… that I am just another sinner who asked to be rescued from a sinful life. She put me in my place. She made me think. She made me realize that my ego is still enormous. Two days ago she saw me again and commented that I’ve noticeably changed.

This meltdown had a lot to do with that. I’ve realized I am not strong, like I thought I was. I realized I am not beyond my razor-sharp tongue. I am still a man who jumps at the chance to rip people apart for hurting my feelings.

Song lyrics are stuck in my head.

What’s going on inside of me? I despise my own behavior. This only serves to confirm my suspicions: that I’m still a man in need of a savior.