Donny's Ramblings


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Thoughts From Yaks Koffee

The Magic Chair

Earlier this afternoon I was sitting in my easy chair reading one of the textbooks for my Church History class. In case you’re a new reader, I’m currently a student of the Londen Institute for Evangelism, on my way to a degree in Ministry. From Porn Producer to Pastor? Perhaps.

Hmm… maybe I should contemplate that italicized sentence as a possible book title?

Anyway… where was I? Oh yeah, the easy chair. The chair is a magic chair. No, really, it is. Wendy and I bought it before Caden was born. I used to rock him to sleep in it late at night. Wendy was not a late-night type of person, so when Caden was an infant and woke up in the middle of the night, as infants do, Wendy would nurse him and then I’d take him downstairs to rock him to sleep. I’d pop in a movie and the two of us would have Daddy and Caden time. It was magical.

The magic chair… it wasn’t cheap, which is one of the two reasons why I still own it today, even though it doesn’t match the rest of the furniture in my apartment. One thing about that ex-wife of mine is that she will not settle for cheap furniture. I could tell you stories about the dressers that have been purchased for my son and the bunk bed set she’s currently talking me into buying. I didn’t realize such price tags could attach themselves to bunk beds! But I digress…

As I was sitting in Magic Chair reading A HISTORY OF THE CHURCH FROM PENTECOST TO PRESENT, by James B. North, I started thinking “I could be reading this at Yaks.”

And so… here I sit at Yaks Koffee. But I’m not reading. I’ve got the laptop fired up and am LOOKING at my text books while I type. Does looking count for anything?

Instead of being a good student, reading my textbooks and preparing to write the papers assigned to me, I am instead writing to you, my constant readers, about a few thoughts I’ve been pondering in the last few days. I want to share them with you and ask for your opinions and input.

Random Thought #1: Sin and God’s Jealousy

While driving, I was thinking to myself, “God is a jealous God, right? That’s what I’ve read and heard. But why is that?” The following thoughts came to mind (pardon the example used to illustrate these thoughts – it just seems that I often come to spiritual “realizations” by thinking of events from my life – is that normal?):

When I was playing that horrible game with Belinda I would find myself fighting jealousy from time to time. While it didn’t start that way, it wasn’t long before I was battling for her affections. If an idea was suggested by Mark, I didn’t want Belinda to like it. I wanted her to realize that anything coming from Mark was evil (I guess that didn’t work out quite as I planned because she now lives with him) and anything coming from me was good (of course). If she did happen to think one of his ideas was a good one I’d feel a surge of jealousy. In your own relationship, if you have one, imagine how you’d feel if the person you’re in love with found pleasure or delight in the suggestions of another.

In the case of real-life Good vs. Evil, all good comes from God. His opponent, and ours, creates and perpetuates evil. Most of us can agree on that, I’m sure. So it makes sense to me that when those God loves choose something that was created or suggested by His opponent, He feels jealousy.

I realize this is basic for most of you, but this is a perspective I’d never considered before. Input, anyone?

Random Thought #2: Is There ANYONE God Won’t Forgive and Use for His Good?

Somewhat related to the above line of thought, I began thinking of David, and also of Saul/Paul. As King, David was a man who had it all. He was wealthy. He could do whatever he pleased. He was in a position of leadership, and part of his duties were to protect his people. So when he murdered one of the men who served in his armed forces in order to take the poor man’s wife, in my opinion he deserved to die. How many of us could forgive such a thing if it happened today? But after his sin was called out and he became a broken person, begging God’s forgiveness, God did just that. And he even called David a man after his own heart.

We all know the story of Saul, the Christian killer. He found a lot of joy in hunting Christians down and persecuting them. Yet Jesus met him on the road to Damascus, temporarily blinded him, changed his life and used him to change the world. As the Apostle Paul, 13 books of the New Testament were written by him.

I wonder if God took pleasure in snatching these two men out of Satan’s hands, purposefully using them to do his work, in part, to rub it in Satan’s face? At one point, both of these men must have elicited an enormous amount of jealousy within God. After all, they were choosing to pursue Satan’s “suggestions” over God’s plan.

Gimme your thoughts, will ya?


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The Departure Of The Bad-Gunky

(well, some of it anyway)

I’m a hah-uge Stephen King fan. Have been all my life. I don’t apologize for that.

I mention this because the term “Bad-Gunky” comes from Stephen King’s Lisey’s Story. A very general definition would be “very bad stuff” inside oneself. If you’ve read the book, you know it’s a lot deeper than that.

All of us have “bad-gunky” inside. Pastor Bill calls it our “inner mess”. That’s a good term too. Pastor Bill, in some of his writings, even reminds me of Stephen King, but that’s another story who’s time has not yet come.

This evening as I sat reading, I realized some of my own “bad-gunky” has left me. I welcome that very much.

“Donny, to what are you referring?” you might ask.

“To Belinda”, I’d reply.

A few weeks ago I mentioned making up with Mark, Belinda’s new boyfriend. What I’ve yet to discuss is the emotional release I’ve had from Belinda as well. And it is SO welcomed. I thought it would never happen. Fortunately, and miraculously, I was wrong.

See, my heart was crushed by the way our relationship ended. I loved her so much. I made so many mistakes, and I felt so much guilt for those. I made Belinda feel emotions I never intended her to feel. I messed with her head, big time.

Slowly over time I’ve been able to forgive myself for what I’ve done. Like you, I know deep inside that God forgives me. Sometimes we humans have a hard time forgiving ourself, don’t we? We feel the need to punish ourselves because our human minds demand retribution for poor behavior. I did this. A lot. Yet when I was miserable I’d take out my “miserableness” on those in my life, including Belinda and her new boyfriend (who was my friend at one point – and who I so desperately wish remained my friend to this day).

I wallowed in self pity.

It’s been many weeks since I’ve last felt sorry for myself for Belinda moving on with someone else. Months, perhaps. I’ve kept from writing about it, until now, because I wanted to be sure all that bad-gunky was gone. I’m pretty sure it is. In my mind, when Belinda crosses it, I wish her nothing but good luck and great times in her new life. I don’t stew on how she supposedly wronged me. I don’t hate Mark for being with her. I see it as good. I see him as the best person in the world to take care of her. I see our “split” as the right thing to do.

I’m not saying our situation wasn’t unfortunate. It was. Very much so. But for many, many years I made a lot of decisions that were quite unfortunate and downright stupid: I cheated on Wendy, my one and only wife, who loved me much more than I realized (I took her for granted because I was SO IGNORANT). I left her when Caden, my beautifully innocent son, was an infant. I found Belinda while looking to fill the hole inside of me that only God can fill, and then I gave her to another man, thinking I was giving her a “gift” (how ignorant can one person be?).

I definitely cluttered my life with baggage, didn’t I?

At one time I thought the days of crying-until-I-puke were never going to end. I thought the sadness would consume me. I felt I was different than everyone else that has experienced heartbreak, and while others may heal, Donny would never again be well. Ever.

I was wrong: I’m okay.

I’m beyond okay, actually.

I’m great!

Making up with Mark was a good step in the right direction, but even before that I’d realized there’s no point feeling sorry for myself. I realized that I was handed a blessing in disguise. Things could have been SO much worse:

Since Belinda and I were no longer on the same spiritual path there was no way we could have stayed together. What if I’d have had to break up with her only to watch her wallow in sorrow and feelings of abandonment? I’m not heartless. Would I have moved away from God to comfort Belinda? I’d like to say, “no”, but the truth is that I don’t really know. I didn’t have to face that situation.

I’m very grateful for that.

I marvel at the way God’s “big picture” always seems to be the best picture. That’s what I’ve experienced in my own life, at least. God has his hands on everything: even the very worst situations, in the long run, have become some of my biggest blessings.

Perhaps I’ll elaborate on that in the future.

Without looking through the history of my blog, I’m pretty confident that I can say I’ve told you, my constant readers, of the endless days I’ve been torn up inside over the loss of my 6 years with Belinda. But I can also tell you that on this day (and many before it) I am SO blessed she’s no longer in my life, and I can rest easy knowing she has someone who loves and cherishes her. I’ll always care for her – any normal human, no matter how they try to deceive themselves, cannot say otherwise about someone with whom they’ve spent so much time – but the sting is gone. For good.

I thank God for that.

On a TOTALLY unrelated issue, please read this from my friend Jimmy. If you’re local, contact him will ya?


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Thoughts from Duffy's Tavern

I’m sitting at Duffy’s Tavern in Chico, California, reminiscing on the events of my life while sipping a margarita and listening to Frank Sinatra on the Jukebox. I’ve fed that jukebox full of music for the next hour. The playlist includes Frankie, Prince, and several selections from the Grease soundtrack.

Beautiful, I tell ya. I love this music.

Some Christians might be tempted to ask why I’m hanging out in a bar and sipping a margarita. There is no answer for those who would ask. I just felt like writing here. I love Chico, and Duffy’s Tavern is a Chico icon.

There are 7 other people here at the moment, each engrossed in conversation with those who came with them.

None have complained about Sinatra.

As for the margaritas:
My constant readers, Jesus did not turn water into kool-aid. Alcohol consumption isn’t up for discussion, so don’t bother.

This afternoon after church (each of us in a separate church), Wendy and I had lunch with our son at the new Chili’s restaurant by the Chico Mall. We accomplished something today. See, we’ve been doing quite a bit of arguing over a pretty serious issue we’ve both had to face, and we’ve been facing it for what seems an eternity. Today I think we made progress. She’s an amazing woman, I’ll tell ya. I really love and appreciate her so much. If only I’d done so when we were married…

But speaking of progress, I’m very happy to have come to a “truce” with Belinda’s new boyfriend. A few days ago, the two of us talked on the phone, man to man, as we should have done quite some time ago. Here’s to hoping we’ll stop ripping into each other with insults on public internet message boards, as well as in conversations with mutual acquaintances. Mark used to be a friend of mine. Speaking with him on the phone made me kinda miss that friendship (just a little). I don’t think we’ll be sitting around a campfire singing Kumbaya together anytime soon, but at least we’ve made some progress and have hopefully put the petty bickering in our past.

…which really makes me happy. Because the hatred I harbored for Mark was eating me alive. It was way out of hand. It was definitely preventing me from moving forward and pursuing a closer relationship with my Creator. I don’t want to go into any details, but the conversation we had was a healing experience for me. At one time I really loved Mark’s friendship. He can be a very funny, charismatic man. I hope I can focus on those positives from here on out. That sure would make life better.

And that’s all I have to say about that…

—–

When I think of God, I can’t help but think of my relationship with Caden. There really isn’t anything my beautiful son could ever do to make me love him any less.

In my mind, I can’t fathom ever loving anyone or anything more than I love my son. He is my life. When he hurts, I hurt. When something negatively affects his life, I’m nearly driven out of my mind with pain. I’m not being dramatic. I’d die for that little boy.

The other day I was at Wendy’s house with Caden. Wendy was out of town. Caden and I had a wonderful time together, bantering about lots of things that are important to 7 year old little boys. At one point he wanted to go outside and ride his bike with his friend Isaiah. I had a few things to do in the house before I could go out and watch him pedal around, laughing his head off with that angelic laugh he has. I let him go ahead of me.

5 minutes later I left the house to go watch him play. His hands were scraped and his knee was bloody. He was in pain.

Can I tell you how that affected me?

Even though he was fine, I had to fight to keep from crying. There was my precious little boy with blood dripping down his leg. He’d been riding around and his front tire had gone off the pavement and onto the gravel. That caused him to lose control of his bike and scrape his leg up pretty good. Although the injury was minor, everything inside of me cried out to run to him, hold him in my arms, and do whatever I could to make the pain go away.

He wasn’t crying. He’s a tough little guy.

I kept my emotions under control and acted like it wasn’t all that big a deal. I told him in a matter-of-fact tone that we should probably clean his wounds. He agreed. We went inside, where HE instructed ME on how MOMMY would clean and bandage his wound. That in itself made my heart attempt to leap through my chest. My little boy loves his mommy so much, and every word that comes out of her mouth, every routine she has for doing things her own way… well, that’s the way things should be in Caden’s mind.

I love that, so much (perhaps the day will come when I’ll tell you about how he wants to grow up to be a soldier, guarding his mommy’s door).

So after using Bactine instead of Neosporin (because mommy does it that way so it has to be better) Caden was back outside riding like a mad man on his “fire bike” with Isaiah.

And I was watching.

And cringing.

And hating yet loving every minute as he rode almost-out-of-control over speed bumps while looking over his shoulder wondering if daddy saw that and had recognized just how cool it was. And can there be anything more AWESOME than a long skid mark left on the pavement, dad?

AND ALL OF THIS JUST MAKES ME THINK:

God feels the same about his children. There’s nothing any of us could ever do to make HIM love US any less.

Nothing.

Nothing!

Does God observe us playing our beautiful little childish games, cringing when we are almost-out-of-control, trying hard not to cry when we hurt ourselves, and nursing us with spiritual “Bactine” when we do so?

Does he bandage our wounds and send us back out to play with Isaiah, watching from the sidewalk and loving us so much it literally hurts?

 

Click any photo to enlarge:
Within Minutes of Birth On the Plane Caden the Ring Bearer Flowers for Mommy


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Thoughts from Duffy’s Tavern

I’m sitting at Duffy’s Tavern in Chico, California, reminiscing on the events of my life while sipping a margarita and listening to Frank Sinatra on the Jukebox. I’ve fed that jukebox full of music for the next hour. The playlist includes Frankie, Prince, and several selections from the Grease soundtrack.

Beautiful, I tell ya. I love this music.

Some Christians might be tempted to ask why I’m hanging out in a bar and sipping a margarita. There is no answer for those who would ask. I just felt like writing here. I love Chico, and Duffy’s Tavern is a Chico icon.

There are 7 other people here at the moment, each engrossed in conversation with those who came with them.

None have complained about Sinatra.

As for the margaritas:
My constant readers, Jesus did not turn water into kool-aid. Alcohol consumption isn’t up for discussion, so don’t bother.

This afternoon after church (each of us in a separate church), Wendy and I had lunch with our son at the new Chili’s restaurant by the Chico Mall. We accomplished something today. See, we’ve been doing quite a bit of arguing over a pretty serious issue we’ve both had to face, and we’ve been facing it for what seems an eternity. Today I think we made progress. She’s an amazing woman, I’ll tell ya. I really love and appreciate her so much. If only I’d done so when we were married…

But speaking of progress, I’m very happy to have come to a “truce” with Belinda’s new boyfriend. A few days ago, the two of us talked on the phone, man to man, as we should have done quite some time ago. Here’s to hoping we’ll stop ripping into each other with insults on public internet message boards, as well as in conversations with mutual acquaintances. Mark used to be a friend of mine. Speaking with him on the phone made me kinda miss that friendship (just a little). I don’t think we’ll be sitting around a campfire singing Kumbaya together anytime soon, but at least we’ve made some progress and have hopefully put the petty bickering in our past.

…which really makes me happy. Because the hatred I harbored for Mark was eating me alive. It was way out of hand. It was definitely preventing me from moving forward and pursuing a closer relationship with my Creator. I don’t want to go into any details, but the conversation we had was a healing experience for me. At one time I really loved Mark’s friendship. He can be a very funny, charismatic man. I hope I can focus on those positives from here on out. That sure would make life better.

And that’s all I have to say about that…

—–

When I think of God, I can’t help but think of my relationship with Caden. There really isn’t anything my beautiful son could ever do to make me love him any less.

In my mind, I can’t fathom ever loving anyone or anything more than I love my son. He is my life. When he hurts, I hurt. When something negatively affects his life, I’m nearly driven out of my mind with pain. I’m not being dramatic. I’d die for that little boy.

The other day I was at Wendy’s house with Caden. Wendy was out of town. Caden and I had a wonderful time together, bantering about lots of things that are important to 7 year old little boys. At one point he wanted to go outside and ride his bike with his friend Isaiah. I had a few things to do in the house before I could go out and watch him pedal around, laughing his head off with that angelic laugh he has. I let him go ahead of me.

5 minutes later I left the house to go watch him play. His hands were scraped and his knee was bloody. He was in pain.

Can I tell you how that affected me?

Even though he was fine, I had to fight to keep from crying. There was my precious little boy with blood dripping down his leg. He’d been riding around and his front tire had gone off the pavement and onto the gravel. That caused him to lose control of his bike and scrape his leg up pretty good. Although the injury was minor, everything inside of me cried out to run to him, hold him in my arms, and do whatever I could to make the pain go away.

He wasn’t crying. He’s a tough little guy.

I kept my emotions under control and acted like it wasn’t all that big a deal. I told him in a matter-of-fact tone that we should probably clean his wounds. He agreed. We went inside, where HE instructed ME on how MOMMY would clean and bandage his wound. That in itself made my heart attempt to leap through my chest. My little boy loves his mommy so much, and every word that comes out of her mouth, every routine she has for doing things her own way… well, that’s the way things should be in Caden’s mind.

I love that, so much (perhaps the day will come when I’ll tell you about how he wants to grow up to be a soldier, guarding his mommy’s door).

So after using Bactine instead of Neosporin (because mommy does it that way so it has to be better) Caden was back outside riding like a mad man on his “fire bike” with Isaiah.

And I was watching.

And cringing.

And hating yet loving every minute as he rode almost-out-of-control over speed bumps while looking over his shoulder wondering if daddy saw that and had recognized just how cool it was. And can there be anything more AWESOME than a long skid mark left on the pavement, dad?

AND ALL OF THIS JUST MAKES ME THINK:

God feels the same about his children. There’s nothing any of us could ever do to make HIM love US any less.

Nothing.

Nothing!

Does God observe us playing our beautiful little childish games, cringing when we are almost-out-of-control, trying hard not to cry when we hurt ourselves, and nursing us with spiritual “Bactine” when we do so?

Does he bandage our wounds and send us back out to play with Isaiah, watching from the sidewalk and loving us so much it literally hurts?

 

Click any photo to enlarge:
Within Minutes of Birth On the Plane Caden the Ring Bearer Flowers for Mommy


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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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Anderson Cooper, I'm Ready!

On March 16th I received an email from Craig Gross asking if I was available this coming weekend to attend a Porn and Pancakes event in Illinois. He’s been speaking with the producer of CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360º show.

“Donny, he’s interested in talking with you about XXXchurch, your past, and your current transition out of porn. I told him there is a good chance you will be at the event next weekend.”

Yep, I’ll be there. I just finished packing. The scary thing is that I picked out my own clothes.

No, I don’t mean I got them out of the closet and put them in my bag. What I mean is: I just got back from JC Penney, where I purchased the outfit I’m going to be wearing.

All. By. Myself.

If Belinda was still around she’d tell you what a scary thought that is. When shopping for clothing, we used to go into a store, where I’d pick something up and start heading toward the check out register. She’d take the item of clothing out of my hands and put it back on the rack, replacing it with something she found more appropriate.

Tonight I was on the phone with a friend from Chico. She called as I was pulling up to the mall. I tried describing what I was picking out and she said it sounded good.

“But you don’t understand… I need a woman to tell me if this stuff looks good together, and more importantly, if it looks okay on ME.”

“I just saw you a couple days ago. Your clothes were perfect on you.”

“That’s because A WOMAN picked them out. This time I’m picking this stuff out myself. That’s the scary thing!”

The sales clerk told me it all looked great, but that’s her job. How good a sales clerk would she be if she told customers they shouldn’t spend a dime on the outfit they’ve brought to her counter?

So if y’all see me on CNN looking really funky… well, now you’ll understand why.

PS: click here and check out my pastor’s new blog


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Anderson Cooper, I’m Ready!

On March 16th I received an email from Craig Gross asking if I was available this coming weekend to attend a Porn and Pancakes event in Illinois. He’s been speaking with the producer of CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360º show.

“Donny, he’s interested in talking with you about XXXchurch, your past, and your current transition out of porn. I told him there is a good chance you will be at the event next weekend.”

Yep, I’ll be there. I just finished packing. The scary thing is that I picked out my own clothes.

No, I don’t mean I got them out of the closet and put them in my bag. What I mean is: I just got back from JC Penney, where I purchased the outfit I’m going to be wearing.

All. By. Myself.

If Belinda was still around she’d tell you what a scary thought that is. When shopping for clothing, we used to go into a store, where I’d pick something up and start heading toward the check out register. She’d take the item of clothing out of my hands and put it back on the rack, replacing it with something she found more appropriate.

Tonight I was on the phone with a friend from Chico. She called as I was pulling up to the mall. I tried describing what I was picking out and she said it sounded good.

“But you don’t understand… I need a woman to tell me if this stuff looks good together, and more importantly, if it looks okay on ME.”

“I just saw you a couple days ago. Your clothes were perfect on you.”

“That’s because A WOMAN picked them out. This time I’m picking this stuff out myself. That’s the scary thing!”

The sales clerk told me it all looked great, but that’s her job. How good a sales clerk would she be if she told customers they shouldn’t spend a dime on the outfit they’ve brought to her counter?

So if y’all see me on CNN looking really funky… well, now you’ll understand why.

PS: click here and check out my pastor’s new blog


10 Comments

The Soap Opera

When I was producing porn, I was very open about what I did for a living. I liked shocking people. Now that I’ve become a Christian I am just as open with the decision for Christ. Part of the promise I made to my dad to remain true to myself includes not pretending everything is perfect now that I’ve surrendered my life to God. Today I delve into the toughest issue I’ve had to face since that surrender.

I’m gonna lay it all out there.

Not long after people started hearing my story I began receiving inquiries about book deals. Some of those who’ve inquired are published authors. One was a writer for the Los Angeles Times. I’ve rejected all offers because my story, as yet, has no ending. No “testimony”. It is still being written. I have to admit, however, that the thought of having a book written about my life is flattering. What I must also admit is that this blog has one other benefit besides those I’ve mentioned before: it helps me record my thoughts and feelings, which will come in handy if a book is ever written. So not only is this a form of therapy, it serves as a way to keep track of how my life has changed. In real time.

Almost a week ago I wrote Answers to Prayers. At the end is a note that says “the rest of this blog entry has been edited”. As I explained the edit, one reader wrote to me, “I didn’t see anything wrong with the 2nd half of that post. I think it was necessary to explain and I think part of the healing process is to get this stuff out, thus write about your personal matters.” The reader is right. There wasn’t a whole lot about what I’d written that was bad. What was bad was the attitude in which the edited part was written.

I’m not entirely sure I’ll change a whole lot about what I wrote, but I do know my attitude is right this morning. I want to get this part of my story written. I’ve been thinking about it quite a bit and ask myself, “If I was writing a book, would this part be included?” The answer is yes. If my story is to be complete, this part has to be shared.

If you don’t want to read Donny’s personal soap opera just stop now, I won’t be offended. This blog entry is pure daytime tv. There will be bitching and moaning (can I say that here? hee hee). There will be admissions to things of which I’m not very proud. There will be lots of juicy personal issues put right out there in the open for the world to see, and they’re really not that attractive.

Besides, this is a really long blog entry. Do you really have time to read it right now? Nah, I didn’t think so. Might as well close your browser, get back to work, and stop wasting company time. Donny’s Ramblings will still be here later, before bed.

Perhaps I publicly reveal too many personal issues, but during the course of time I’ve been blogging about my life change I’ve received literally dozens of emails telling me that my transparency touches the life of the person sending the email. I don’t know if it’s just a “Donny thought”, but I feel like being transparent is something I’m supposed to do. When people face difficult situations in life it’s nice to know someone else has experienced the same things. Humans have a habit of talking about all that is good yet hiding anything negative.

I’ve had a real peace in my life in so many ways, but until recently one area really tormented me: Belinda.

Some have said, “Just forget about her, she’s not part of your future!”

Believe me, I realize this, but forgetting about a woman I loved for 6 years is much easier said than done. We lived together the entire time and were engaged since July of 2004 until the time we separated. We may as well have been married.

When you really love someone it’s not easy to just forget about them. It’s impossible to abandon the memories at the drop of a hat. She moved out of the area. I remained in the area where we spent the majority of our time together. Because of that, everywhere I go I’m reminded of her. And most of the time I can’t listen to anything but Christian music because it’s impossible to go half an hour without a song coming on that brings back memories.

The hardest part about being alone is not sharing the small things with someone who cares. Let’s see if I can explain this to you: You’re watching tv. Something strikes you as funny. You call out to your love interest, “Hey babe, come check this out! It’s hilarious!”. Or perhaps you’re driving somewhere together and a thought strikes you. “Hey babe, I was thinking…..” There are a million different scenarios like that. Simple things. Things you just can’t call up a friend and tell them about, because they really won’t care. Things that actually DO matter to someone who loves you and is intimate with you.

That’s what I miss most. But it is getting easier, day by day.

After surrendering my life to God I moved into the other master bedroom in my house. I hoped Belinda would encounter Jesus as well, but as time passed it became apparent that wasn’t going to happen. When I finally made her move out it was still not intended to be a permanent situation. We’d take a break from each other for awhile and see what happened.

Deep inside I’d already realized we were never going to reconcile no matter how much time we spent apart, but I didn’t want to accept that. I wanted to believe she’d move to another city, someone would reach out to her, she’d encounter Jesus, and we’d end up back together again: two pornographers who’s lives had been changed by a real encounter with their Creator. She could travel with me and help build a new business and a new life.

When she started seeing Mark less than a week after moving out I was crushed. I felt abandoned. I felt the years together meant nothing to her. I felt she never really loved me to begin with. For 3 weeks I’d cry so hard I’d puke, exhaust myself until I fell asleep, sleep a few hours, then wake up again and repeat the whole process. It was horrible. I’ve never experienced anything like it in my life.

Oddly enough, it was Wendy who helped me look beyond the pain and to welcome the tears as part of the healing process. She told me what worked for her when I’d put her through the same range of emotions. She didn’t find any joy in the fact that I was getting a taste of what I’d put her through. She truly wanted to help me get through it. That touched me so much.

Unfortunately, understanding and accepting things as they are doesn’t make the cycle end. As you can probably imagine, after so many years our lives had been joined together in many ways, and sometimes things would arise for which Belinda and I had to correspond. I’d be fine for a few days and then she’d call needing me to send her something she forgot at the house, or I’ll have to call and ask her to send me something she mistakenly took with her when she left, or… whatever. Things like that popped up all the time. Sometimes one of us would contact the other just because we wanted to hear the other’s voice.

Problems arose when one of us would ask, “How are you doing?”

The pain would begin all over again each time I’d hear that she was just as tore up as me, but that she had to bottle it all inside. She had to put on a good face for the new guy and the other people in her life that expect her to just be okay. The last time we spoke about it she said she feels like she can’t allow herself to grieve. In one email she wrote, “I’m a miserable person. I just try to look happy.”

Knowing she had to keep her own turmoil bottled up inside tore me apart.

During the day, when her new boyfriend is at work, she’d be sweet and warm and the person I loved so deeply for so long. Let the nights or weekends come, the times when my replacement is around, and she turned into something I’ve never seen before.

I guess she felt the need to put on a show for him. Unless she kept her true feelings bottled inside where he couldn’t see them he might get jealous. On numerous occasions she’d call to ask some random question about how to do something on her Mac or to just chat with me about something insignificant. But if I called just a few hours later (when Mark was home from work) to ask where she wanted me to send the check that arrived in the day’s mail or something similar, she’d be cold, rude, and downright mean. It hurt my feelings. A lot.

And so my days went for the longest time, an emotional roller coaster where I’d see glimpses of the girl I’d given my heart to, followed by some new girl I didn’t know. I’d never in my life experienced the cold, mean Belinda. Even long ago when she’d cheated on me she never had been cold, which is why it had been so easy to forgive her and move on. She was only 19 years old when we started dating, and I was able to watch her grow so much. The mistakes made along the way had always brought us closer together. I cherished them. She was very easy to love.

After our breakup, mutual acquaintances would constantly call or send instant messages online asking about Belinda. I’d have people telling me they saw her. I’d ask how she was doing. Mistake. Mistake. Mistake.

———-

Before I continue I want to make an admission about something really horrible that I did when we were right in the middle of the sex game I wrote about. Part of dealing with one’s issues requires admitting one’s mistakes. It’s been almost a year since this all happened, and it occurred during a time long before surrendering my life to God. I’m ready to face up to it. Here goes:

I begged Belinda to stop “the game”. I could have just forced her to stop but I wanted her to do so out of love for me. During the months she wanted to keep playing, despite knowing the pain I was experiencing, I felt like I was going insane. My ego was being destroyed. She saw a side of me she’d never seen in the years before the game began: a Donny who got very mean when drunk. We’d go out to bars on several occasions and come home wasted. While drunk, we’d almost always fight about Mark, who at the time was the “third wheel” in the game we’d played. I’d get very angry, sometimes breaking bottles of beer. One night I even broke one of her cameras by slamming it against stairs. She got in my face about that and I kept warning her to back off. When she wouldn’t do so I pushed her away from me so hard she fell to the floor. The push didn’t physically hurt her but it hurt her emotionally, deep inside.

On another occasion we had been arguing at home after drinking. I felt like I was getting out of control so I told her I was leaving the living room to go sleep in the guest bedroom. I closed and locked the door and laid down, so drunk the room was spinning. She didn’t feel we’d resolved our issues to her satisfaction, and since she, too, was drunk she decided to use a knife to pry open the lock on the bedroom door and continue arguing with me. As I lay in bed under the covers she jumped on top of me and started screaming in my face, pounding my chest with her fists. I was in no mood to just lay there and take that so I pushed her off of me as hard as I could, sending her flying onto to the floor. Again, she wasn’t physically hurt but emotionally she was devastated. This wasn’t the man she knew. The Donny she knew and loved would never react to problems like this. Ever. She cried hysterically and left the room.

The third episode we had is the one I’m most ashamed of… We left a night club in Sacramento and were following friends to their home. I was drunk, yet driving anyway. Belinda was beside me, drunk as well. We began arguing, once again over Mark. I can’t even remember what brought us to crescendo, but at that point I punched her hard in the leg. It left a bruise. I felt horrible. When I was sober I apologized profusely. In the 6 months months before I encountered God we stopped going to bars except on rare occasions. The game had already been stopped and most of the fighting about it had ceased. There were still lingering issues, but things were getting back to normal.

But after our separation I started hearing stories that Mark, who she is now dating, had begun telling people that Belinda had been physically abused and beaten while we were together. I asked her about it and she said, “Seriously, that’s all him. I’m not saying those things.” Since that time, I’ve hated him for spinning the story to sound like I was some horrible monster. I’m still trying to get over that hatred, which is only fueled some of the things you’ll read in the rest of this blog entry.

———-

God and I talk on the River Trail together on a daily basis. Not only do I receive physical healing on that trail in the form of weight loss and exercise, I also find spiritual healing as well. It’s a place of communion with my Creator. I usually don’t ask for anything, because God provides my needs without my requests. I just talk to him. One day I had to ask a favor.

I knew Belinda would never again be a part of my future, and while my heart sometimes wished that weren’t the case, my head had finally accepted it. I knew I should be able to just move on but it didn’t seem like I could. I began begging God for help to get over her. Tears were streaming down my face on the River Trail as I walked and prayed:

God, I just can’t get past this on my own. I just can’t get her out of my mind and I want her gone so badly. I want the pain to end. I don’t have the strength, on my own, to stop communicating with her. Everything inside of me wants to run to her when I hear she’s having a bad day or a hard time. I know she’s not the person you want me to be with and in my mind I agree with you, but when she calls or emails me I can’t seem to help but reply. And even though I try so hard not to contact her myself I fail miserably all the time. Everything else in life is going so well, but this area makes me feel like I’m going insane and failing you… failing myself. YOU are going to have to do this for me because I can’t do it myself. PLEASE, I am begging you.

Later that same day I received a phone call. The person on the other end told me about a conversation with Belinda’s new man. It really bothered me, because the caller claimed to have been in a conversation with him where he stated that he’s not very serious about her, that he feels sorry for her, that he’s only helping her out of an “abusive relationship” and that in return for her receiving emotional support, he receives a sex partner and someone to lean on as he faces his own turmoil of losing his family because of his repeated infidelity. The person also told me about some of the things going on between them that I’d never heard before. To the caller, it seemed Belinda’s new man wanted people to know he was not “off the market”, that he was just helping a girl who needed someone to lean on.

I couldn’t stand the thought of her being used that way. It turned my stomach. I knew I should just forget about it. I knew I shouldn’t tell Belinda because it wan’t really my place. Besides, she wouldn’t accept such information from me anyway. I asked the person on the phone to tell her but that was not an option. The response I received was, “I don’t want to get involved. Please don’t involve me in this.”

All of this was added to some very alarming personal issues Mark’s ex had told me more than a month before. I believe what she’d said, but figured Belinda would just have to find out the hard way. I kept it to myself.

But after hearing the things he was saying about Belinda I had a choice to make.

What do I do? What do I do? I love this woman. I think she needs to be aware of this, and nobody else is going to tell her. Our society keeps such things secret. This man openly, publicly cheated, repeatedly, on the woman who called herself his wife for 7 years and who bore him a child, yet not a single person would tell her. Many knew, but nobody would speak up and do the right thing. Now it has already begun for Belinda. I figured the “honeymoon” period would have to pass first. I didn’t think he’d start so soon. I knew she’d end up in the same situation, with people talking behind her back about things he was doing and saying, but nobody would have enough guts to tell her.

I thought about it for several hours and finally picked up the phone. I knew it would probably be the last time I spoke with Belinda. Once Mark was confronted, he’d convince her nothing had been said, and then he’d insist that she never speak with me again. And because she’d want to please him she’d comply. Still, I wanted her to know that she really needed to look out for herself.

“Belinda, you may not believe this coming from me…”

I told her what I’d heard. She listened. To reinforce that I was telling her the truth I told her the things he’d said about their present situation that I could not possibly have known. I told her to think about how I could possibly know such things if the information hadn’t come from either her or him. She didn’t get an attitude with me. I could tell she knew I was telling her the truth. During that call, she was the Belinda I’d always known.

But I knew she’d confront him, and the man is very slick with words and very good at hiding things. Since I am “the ex” and he is the new guy, of course she’ll end up listening to him over me. She WANTED to believe he’s a different person than he’d always been. She wanted to believe he will never betray her. She wanted to feel he’d love her and protect her heart. I knew she’d put aside her doubts and find a reason to listen to him, but I felt like I HAD to tell her anyway, even though she’d likely never talk to me again.

I asked her to call me later and let me know she was okay. I didn’t think she would. I figured Mark would take control of the situation and Belinda would promise to cease all contact with me. I was right.

The next day I took a stranded couple to Reno because they didn’t have the money for bus fare. On the drive back from Reno I received a phone call from a Realtor asking if she could show my house. The Realtor said, “I tried calling the other number [Belinda’s cell phone] but it has been changed.”

That made me curious. I dialed it myself. Sure enough, she’d changed her number.

For some reason that made me really happy! I immediately started praying:

God, you use the strangest things to answer prayer. I begged you to help me stop talking to Belinda because I can’t seem to find the strength to do so myself. She’s had that same number for 7 years. What are the odds she’d ever change it? She hasn’t been emailing me either, and she didn’t respond to the last email I sent to her. It seems you’ve answered my prayer by giving her a reason not to communicate with me anymore. I know I should have been able to do it myself but since I couldn’t I thank you for using this to do it for me. You know I worry about her but it’s time to finally just put her in your hands and let you worry about her. She’s your daughter and I know you love her. Take care of her. And thank you for lifting this weight for me when I couldn’t do so myself.

Besides changing her number, Belinda decided to send a letter to Wendy asking her to request that I stop contacting her, and explaining that it had been necessary to change her number to avoid me. I was mildly annoyed that she’d drag Wendy into such soap opera style drama, particularly when she was being a bit dishonest about it. I’d promised my counselor that I would not initiate phone contact, and with the exception of the call I just told you about I’d kept to that promise for 3 weeks by that point. On days Belinda contacted me first I’d return her calls. Sometimes I’d follow up on a conversation we’d had earlier in the day via phone or text message, but in no way was I the person initiating conversation.

After looking at things a bit deeper I realized she was just trying to please Mark. The change of her cell number was a symbolic gesture to him that she was committed to honoring his request to cease contact with me, and the letter to Wendy was a way of reinforcing that gesture. She didn’t want him knowing that it was actually her that called most of the time. I carbon copied an email to both of them, assuring them that I too wished to cease contact (ironically, no email addresses or Instant Messenger nicknames had been changed).

Afterward I was finally able to let go and let Belinda worry about herself. I no longer feel the need to be the white knight trying to rescue the damsel in distress from the evil fire breathing dragon. In fact, I don’t really worry too much about her at all anymore. I’ll always value the good times, good memories and those in her family who I came to love, but each day she crosses my mind less frequently than the day before. In retrospect, I don’t really think God had anything to do with Belinda changing her number, but I’m sure glad that particular day broke the few chains left connecting me to her.

It’s been a very long time since I’ve cried about her. That’s a good thing.


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Counseling, Every Man's Battle, and About That Ex-Wife

COUNSELING

I recently accepted the advice of a trusted friend to start receiving counseling. I’d been of the mindset that any healing I needed could be done on my own and in church with God’s help. I gave no respect to the “counseling” idea.
It was time to do so. I’m finding it hard to find the words to explain to you exactly how much these counseling sessions are helping.

Some of the effects really surprise me, however. Take for example the seemingly endless nights of crying. I’m talking about that cry where it feels like you’re ejecting your guts out of your mouth. Tears drop like they came from a sprinkler. You cry out unintelligible sentences. You feel like you’re losing your mind. Finally you’re so exhausted that you can’t keep your eyes open, so you fall asleep for a few hours, only to awaken and start the process again.

Especially at night. It always seems worse at night.

What’s causing this? I’d have to say “responsibility”. Finally facing some. Part of the healing process is being responsible and accountable.

It was a lot easier, for example, to be go through my day angry at Belinda and the way she hurt me than it is to face the fact that I pushed her into doing something she never wanted to do… that all she wanted to do was love ME and I couldn’t accept that. I thought she needed something more. I insisted that she take the “more” even after she’d let me know it wasn’t what she wanted. That fantasy wasn’t reality. The feelings that developed inside of her because of what I encouraged her to do… those are the feelings that led to the things she did which hurt me. She felt unloved. Why would someone who loved her allow and even encourage her to “play” with someone else?

Accountability. It hurts.

At the same time, I’ve also been addressing how my marriage to Wendy was ended. How I ripped HER apart too. How I sent her through the same things I’ve been experiencing (and more). How, when she thought she was going to lose her mind, I’d get on the phone and yell at her about it and tell her to stop listening to the people in her church. Those people were trying to help her. I told her she needed a prescription.

I can’t imagine going through what I’ve been experiencing, and having to take care of an infant alone at the same time. That’s what I sent my beautiful ex-wife through. The man she’d loved so well was off in a world of porn production. The man she thought she’d spend the rest of her life with was off living with another woman, and had “moved on” to that other woman so painfully quickly.

I remember her asking me why I’d moved on so quickly. I always felt justified by telling her, “I need someone. I’m all alone here. You have Caden, but I have nobody.” At the time it seemed like a really good explanation. How depraved. I guess some of us need to experience the same things we put others through in order to actually understand them.

What really blows me away about Wendy is that she sees what I’ve been going through and fully understands it. She doesn’t say, “I told you so” or laugh that I’m being paid back. She tells me it’s normal to wail. She tells me it will get better. She tells me to stop thinking of it as a bad thing, because it’s a very normal, healthy part of healing. About what I put her through, she tells me she wouldn’t have had it any other way because this horror and pain builds a much stronger person. She tells me it’s okay to grieve and mourn.

She loves me despite all of the things I’ve done to her. Isn’t that amazing? And when we talk I don’t hide any of the feelings I’ve been having about Belinda. Do you know what she does when I tell her those things? She mourns for Belinda. Her heart cries out to God to heal Belinda. I cannot tell you how much that touches me. I cannot begin to describe how much I see Jesus in her when she does stuff like that.

Then there’s Caden: I can’t express how horrible I feel that he’s had to live in a home without his daddy for as long as he can remember. Yeah, I’d see him very regularly and several times per week, but it’s not the same. He wasn’t meant to be unable to remember the times his daddy used to live in the same house. I only pray he’s never given crap from others about the work his daddy used to do. People can be cruel.

These are the things I’ve begun addressing on a much deeper level since counseling began. It has been excruciating.

EVERY MAN’S BATTLE

Every Man’s Battle continued this path of accountability.

What is Every Man’s Battle, you ask? It’s a program run by New Life Ministries. I’ll copy and paste their description for you:

“Every month, around the country, we offer the Every Man’s Battle Workshop three-day intensive program for men who are struggling with sexual integrity. It is Christ-centered, and uses a combination of teaching sessions and small group work, led by licensed Christian counselors.”

Several weeks ago I was asked if I’d come to one of these 3 day programs and share my story with the men in attendance. On Friday night I’d share my personal story, from Pastor’s son to porn producer to surrendering my life to God. On Saturday night I’d attempt to shed some light on the reality of pornography. Men that struggle with a porn addiction struggle with the FANTASY porn presents. The reality of porn is much different.

Those in attendance have either repeatedly cheated on their wives, have a very hard time keeping away from massage parlors or strip clubs, have had their relationships harmed by pornography, or have been affected in some other way by sexual sin.

During the day I was invited to sit in on the sessions if I’d like. This led to something very unexpected: although my marriage ended 6 years ago, I was yet another man in attendance who had deeply hurt his wife with my sexual sins. I was another man this program had been designed to help.

Much of the time I sat at the back of the room with tears streaming down my face, just like most of the other men.

My words can’t possibly describe what a great program New Life Ministries has put together. Every Man’s Battle offers men a huge tool to win their battles with sex addiction and repair their relationships.

While speaking, I struggled with the flow of words coming out of my mouth. I rambled a bit, but the intended message was communicated. Feedback was positive. I’m sure many of the men were given another tool to use in their personal struggles.

One of the counselors emailed me afterward and paid me a huge compliment:

You have an amazing maturity so early in your walk and a zeal that is contagious – I learned a lot from you this weekend (not just the porn stuff). I love the way you love God without the ‘infection’ of the American church culture (I think you know what I mean by that, don’t know how else to put it). Quite refreshing to say the least.

I know you played a major part in touching the men’s lives this weekend and in causing major casualties in the enemy’s armies.”

Reading that email this morning was very uplifting.

AND ABOUT THAT EX-WIFE

Following the second night came a question and answer period. One of the men asked if I thought I’d reconcile with Wendy. That’s a common question. It’s probably been asked a few hundred times, both to me and to Wendy as well. What a beautiful story it would be if things went full circle and our relationship was re-established and healed. Many think it will be.

But I’ll answer that question with a question of my own:

Do any of you think it’s fair to Wendy for me to pursue such a reconciliation while I’m still a complete mess inside? Until I can honestly say that all feelings for Belinda have gone away and that God has completely healed my soul I wouldn’t dare disrespect Wendy by trying to make her my wife again. She’s a truly remarkable, beautiful person who loved me better than anyone I know, and she’s continued to do so despite the hell I put her through. She’s an amazing, amazing woman who deserves an equally amazing man.

I’ll admit, however: the thought is never far from my mind. Perhaps someday… only God knows, I guess.