Donny's Ramblings


8 Comments

The Story of A Girl Whose Life I Ruined

I must warn you that what I’m about to share with you is very dark.  If you are in need of a “picker upper,” this story is not for you.  For some, this article might be quite depressing.  For others, it might be a wake-up call, causing them to think of a side of pornography they’ve never before considered.  The latter is my intent.  There’s not much light at the end of this particular dark tunnel.  Also note that I have Mindy’s permission, and indeed encouragment, to share her story.

When you tell a person what they can’t have, they’ll often try to convince you that you’re wrong.  This is especially true for the college aged who have recently left the safety of the nest to try their wings out on their own for the first time.  When recruiting new porn actresses, I understood this very well and used it to my advantage.  Often working from a nice home, I let the house and our lifestyle do the selling for me.  A new prospect would arrive after having driven through one of the better neighborhoods in town and, prior to sitting down to interview with me in my home office, would be shown around the property like a valued guest.  My girlfriend and I had things the interviewee didn’t have, the photos of us were taken at vacations spots where she likely hadn’t been, the “famous” people with whom we posed were people she’d recognize but likely hadn’t met.

There were psychological reasons for this:  I not only wanted her to feel comfortable in a warm, non-threatening environment, but I also knew she’d start painting herself into the picture.  “Porn can give me this lifestyle?” she’d ask herself.  “No, dear girl, this lifestyle isn’t for you,” I’d verbalize, “You can’t handle this business.  What if your dad finds out you’re working for me?”  The more a college aged girl was presented with questions like this, the more she’d argue that I was wrong and this life was something she could handle.  When her life began falling apart, I could pat myself on the back for having warned her against getting involved in the first place.

One December day a girl named Mindy arrived at my house.   She’d turned 18 barely a month before her interview.  I wish I could deny playing the part I played in her story.  For a long time I either didn’t want to talk about it, or I’d mention small bits of information.  Mindy is the reason my cell phone number has never been changed.  She has it memorized, and to this day she’ll call when she’s at her worst and has nowhere else to turn.

Back on that first day, I knew I had a money maker.  I verified the age on her ID because, well, isn’t it obvious by looking at her pictures?  She looks really young.  I’d already been in the business four years by this time, so I had a pretty good handle on the demands of the market.  I knew men would go crazy over this girl.

I initially emailed samples to clients who owned websites.  Every one of them either matched their largest order size, or ordered more of her than they had of any other model I’d submitted.  One client who specialized in the “teen” niche – which requires a model to be over 18 but look younger – started asking if I’d be willing to partner with him on solo-girl website.  Such a site features one girl, rather than a variety of girls.  We made a proposal to Mindy:  she’d receive 25% of site revenue, I’d receive 25% and my new business partner would keep the remaining 50%.  His portion was larger because he would be responsible for all website development, hosting and promotions.

Mindy was the easiest model I’ve ever worked with, at least when it came to porn production.  She had a natural charisma, beautiful smile and a melodic laugh.  She loved life, and enlivened any room into which she walked.  At the beginning of her “career,” she could have been the poster child for “bubbly personality.”  The second a camera was pointed at her, she’d just start posing.  She didn’t need to be directed.  I couldn’t press the shutter release quickly enough.  For the most part, she’d pick out her own clothing and props, and she didn’t care where we shot, from rolling around in the dirt of a dry field to posing on railroad tracks, from taking over an aircraft hangar – and using the aircraft within it as her own personal props – to breaking into an abandoned sawmill, Mindy was up for anything.  When it came to videos, no script was needed because you could be sure that whatever Mindy came up with would be something her “fans” enjoyed seeing.  The one thing she didn’t want to do, however, was touch another person.  I honored that… for a while.

I believe that into every woman is built a need to be desired.  This desire can be used for the purposes of manipulation by guys like the one I used to be.  With Mindy, we flattered her and praised the things we loved about her.  Prior to the launch of her website, her fan base had already exploded due to the release of thousands of images of her on other popular sites.  The feedback she received was shared with her.  We used it to inflate her ego and prod her along.  Her “fans” needed her, after all.  With that positive reinforcement in mind, she was under the impression that she was going to become a celebrity once her solo-site launched.  She told everyone about it.

When an 18 year old girl begins making $10,000 per month, she more than likely isn’t going to know how to handle that amount of money.  Mindy was no exception.  She wanted to take care of people by giving them money and buying things for them, and she wanted to have fun.  Not being promiscuous by nature, she wouldn’t go home with fans, but she could be found passed out at parties.  She was raped several times over the years. Sometimes I’d immediately be told about these rapes, and other times I would not, only having them brought up months later.  I encouraged her to speak to police, but she never wanted to do so.  I asked local law enforcement if there was anything I could do, and was told she had to be willing to talk about it herself.  By this time, she felt as if all she was good for was to serve as an outlet for the “needs” men thought they had, either by entertaining them on her website, or letting them get away with taking what they wanted from her when she was passed out.  The lifestyle I had saddled her with had drained all light and sparkle from her eyes.  They reflected a soul that had died inside.

Where once a girl existed who would light up a room just by being herself, now there was a girl who would often literally begin a sentence laughing and end that same sentence in tears.  She once broke down on a sidewalk after we’d gone out for pizza and loudly cried about how her website was destroying her life.  Another time, I shot scenes with her in a hotel room at a local casino, and in between scenes she passed out on the bed.  I let her sleep for hours, but by checkout time I still couldn’t get her to wake up.  I had to call security to see if they could help, because God knows I didn’t want to pay for another day, and ended up witnessing a room full of hostile men badgering a naked young girl who was quite angry at having been forced awake, trying to dress and gather her things as strangers screamed at her that she had to leave.

The first time Mindy told me she’d given her life to Jesus, I was actually happy to hear it.  The things I’d seen in Mindy’s life didn’t make me feel very good because I knew a big part of the blame was on me.  Built into her contract was the requirement to keep producing new content if she wanted to keep receiving her percentage of sales, and I knew that she’d have quit early on if she could have just walked away while keeping residual royalties.  Jesus entering her life meant I was going to lose one of my best-selling models, but at least I wouldn’t have to keep looking into those haunted eyes when she was around.

More than anything, I was a hate-filled, selfish man.  My hatred was fueled by the hypocrisy I’d witnessed within the church during my teen years, as well as the perceived ongoing hypocrisy of Christians who would lecture me about the life I was living, yet want to see what new pornographic content I’d produced.  While I was happy to see the lights return to Mindy’s eyes, I was not happy to be on the receiving end of her attempts to save my soul.  She definitely wasn’t prepared to discuss such matters with me.  Had she not decided to witness to me, I might not have made such an effort to drag her back into porn.  But since the church ladies who met with her on a regular basis had encouraged her to “plant seeds” into my mind, I in retaliation decided I’d try to remove Mindy’s faith entirely.  Already, she was having a hard time making ends meet, as income no longer came in from the site (remember, it depended upon her willingness to add new content).   I asked her if she understood that old religious men were the ones who had made up the moral rules prohibiting her from participating in her website, which was still able to provide very well for her financially if she’d just give up the crazy religious stuff.  I began pointing out inconsistencies in the Bible.  I asked her what loving God would command that unborn babies be ripped from their mother’s wombs, as is mentioned in the book of Hosea.  After having spent so much time with her – at one time she even lived with me – I knew how best to manipulate her into seeing things my way.  She’d come back to the lifestyle every time, initially insisting that she’d only shoot lingerie at most, but quickly jumping back in full bore.

But now I told her she needed to do more.  First we started with girls, then later with boyfriends.  Eventually, I had her take on both visiting male friends and myself, often at the same time, although we’d film it so that it could technically be called a porn shoot rather than prostitution.  The difference between legal prostitution and illegal prostitution is just that the former is labeled “pornography” and involves a model release and a camera of some sort.

Because someone she thought cared for her was now using her as a prostitute, she started identifying as one.  Drugs had never previously been part of her life, but they became part of it now.  I guess they made it easy to do what she was doing.  I’d often pick her up for shoots from hotel rooms where it was apparent she’d been selling herself to others.  She bounced from house to house, living with random older men who’d use her for a time and then send her on her way.  She has no idea who her son’s father might be, because she didn’t know any of the men who were present the night she was impregnated while passed out at a party.

I wish there was a happy ending to Mindy’s story, but there’s not.  Not many months ago, she called in tears, begging me to adopt her two kids.  The state had taken them one time too many, and they were now no longer eligible to be returned to her.  Her social worker had informed her that a close friend or family member could be given priority, and she wondered if I would be willing, as the rest of her family was not.  I gave it thought and prayer, but realized I’m not equipped to take them on.

I’ve now known Mindy for almost 13 years, and there is far more to this story.  I could write more than one book about her life alone.  What is important for you to know is this:  when I led her into pornography, her life was forever changed.  Every single time I see her, she tells me that the website we created of her still impacts her life to this day.  Random strangers still recognize her and make assumptions about her.  She fights hard with the mental illness that was brought on while dealing with the numerous issues that have arisen from working for me. She is very paranoid most of the time, thinking people must be stalking her.  When she is noticed by a man in public, she never assumes it is because he finds her attractive, but rather because he has seen her online somewhere without her clothes on.

There is nothing at all attractive about what happened to her.

I wonder if the men and women who found so much appeal in the images and video content we produced of Mindy would find it attractive if they knew what it cost her.  I wonder if there would be any arousal if the reality was shown:  often before a scene, Mindy would protest, but she knew she wouldn’t earn any money if she didn’t do it, so she’d put on her best game face and do what made her feel worthless, pretending she enjoyed it.

I put her in front of a camera and repeatedly convinced her to continue doing work that was dimming her eyes and killing her soul, but I’d like to point out that the Law of Supply and Demand means all of us who have consumed pornography are part of the cycle of broken lives, like Mindy’s, that result from this industry.  This story is not unique; it happens in some form or other every day, repeatedly.  Mindy is someone’s daughter.  What if she was yours?

While there is an enormous amount of darkness in Mindy’s life, there are also things I find encouraging.  Even though she was impregnated through rape, and even though she knew she might not be able to provide for a child, abortion was never an option that entered her mind.  Her children might not have been afforded the best life possible with her, but they do have life, and I’ve no doubt whatsoever that they prefer that to the alternative.

I also take courage in the fact that Mindy never gives up.  There are situations she has faced that are just as bad as or worse than those I’ve shared, but she doesn’t give up.  She’s never once threatened to end her life, she doesn’t whine, and she reluctantly accepts handouts.  Sometimes she goes to church, other times she does not, but she’s never blamed God for her circumstances.

What I need from you, dear reader, is a promise that you’ll pray for Mindy.  Please don’t do so as a one-time thing.  Add her to your daily or weekly prayer list.  It has been almost 13 years since porn began affecting her life, and the images and video we created together will be around until long after she has departed this world.  There will never be a time when prayers for her are wasted.   If you’d like specific things to pray for, I’d suggest praying that her mind is healed and that her children are cared for in loving, nurturing environments.  The most recent update I have of them is from a few months ago, and they were in foster care at that time.

And finally, please help share the message that pornography involves real people.  One way to fight it is to decrease the demand for it.  Let’s humanize those who are involved in its creation so that fewer consumers find it appealing.  If you’re a consumer, please do whatever is necessary to stop consumption.  Encourage your children to become warriors, fighting for those who aren’t willing to fight for themselves by refusing to ever become consumers of pornography.  FightTheNewDrug has done a great job with their marketing campaign to sell products such as t-shirts, hoodies and wrist bands that are intended to make porn “uncool” for young people.  Perhaps browse their store and make a purchase or two for the youth in your life.  Let’s work to change the way porn is esteemed, transforming the attitude that “everybody uses it” to “it’s just not cool” in ways similar to anti-smoking campaigns.  We CAN do it.

______________________________________________

As I travel to speak, I’m often asked by parents and those who wish to protect themselves if there is any particular computer/mobile device software I recommend.  It is my opinion that Covenant Eyes offers the very best software on the market, and does a fantastic job keeping it updated.  Because the quality of their work demands a full time staff to keep it updated, they do have a small monthly fee.  However, if you use my reference code, they’ll give you the first month free to try it.  Click here to check it out or go to CovenantEyes.com and use promo code donnypauling.


2 Comments

The Hardcore Truth || An Ex-Porn-Producer Reveals 10 Myths About Pornography

The Hardcore Truth | An Ex-Porn Producer Reveals 10 Myths About

By Matt Fradd and Donny Pauling.  Click the image to get your free copy!

Covenant Eyes has decided to give away the eBook written by Matt Fradd and yours truly.  In this 30 page eBook, Matt and I discuss porn in a very open way that will open the minds of many.  The short length of the book is done on purpose:  this is for someone who needs to read what we’ve got to say, but doesn’t want to spend hours on end reading a full length book.

This book is a handy resource for anyone who wants to be able to help those struggling with porn, who want to educate those who think porn is “no big deal,” or those who want weapons in their own personal arsenal when fighting an attraction to pornography.

Click here to get your free copy: Hardcore Truth: An Ex-Porn Producer Reveals 10 Myths About Pornography.


Leave a comment

Two More Recognized Saints? Some Thoughts.

There are now two more “Saints” recognized by the Catholic Church. I know some of my Protestant friends are probably rolling their eyes and shaking their heads. I wanted to share some thoughts.

From the time I began arguing with Catholics five years ago about how wrong they were on so many different things, until I was confirmed into the Church on Easter Vigil, I’ve noticed something that I find difficult to put into appropriate words: everything seems “bigger.” What do I mean by this? I mean the Catholic Church really emphasizes how we’re all in communion with one another, as well as those who have gone before us and will come after us. All of the souls on heaven and earth who are in Christ are part of one huge family.

You know how some families are families, while others are FAMILIES? I mean, some families obviously love and respect each other, but there are others who seem to know everything about every family member and make huge deals about every single event relating to each one of them, from birthdays to ball games to graduations, but instead of only the parents celebrating all of that, the second cousins twice removed also show up and are just as into it all. Know what I’m talking about?

THAT is what the Catholic Church does. A faithful Christian from centuries ago is celebrated like we’d celebrate some family member, still walking the earth just across town, whose valiant acts are bringing worldwide attention and honor to our family name.

All of this comes from the rich celebration of Christianity past and present, and the belief that all Saints are still alive and well, just in heaven interceding for us. Christ’s Bride is a very deep, complex, amazing bride.

I’ve had those close to me roll their eyes and say skeptically some comment or other about statues or paintings or stained glass or… any number of things. I like pointing out that such traditions started at a time when most humans were illiterate. Statutes and paintings and stained glass were all teaching tools, which clergy used to share the stories of the faith with an audience that couldn’t read about it for themselves. I love it.

The Church acknowledges that God gave us five senses, and it firmly believes all five of them should be engaged in worshipping our Creator. Sight, Smell, Touch, Taste, and hearing are all important. This is why such things as incense and bells are used during Mass (which is a prayer to God, I might add, and contrary to the belief that Catholics don’t read their Bibles, each Mass has more scriptural readings than I’ve ever heard at any one particular service in my life prior to having attended Mass). Each of these things has a deep, historical meaning.

While some might not appreciate it, it is my opinion that such things make the big picture… even bigger.


1 Comment

“PORN: On Both Sides of the Screen” – a Discussion at the University of Notre Dame

I’m reposting this here, because clicking through to it on YouTube brings up videos in the “suggested videos” section on the right side that most of our target audience does NOT want to see.  This video was recorded on 31 March 2014 at the University of Notre Dame.  Watch it for an eye-opening look at the realities of what pornography really is – it is my opinion that you’ll particularly enjoy the Q&A section.

PLEASE NOTE:  when you get to the end of the video, close the window as soon as the screen goes black.  If you watch until the very end, YouTube shows suggested videos in the window, and the images are explicit.  I’ve complained, but don’t know if or when they’ll take the offensive videos down.

This 4-person panel presentation, sponsored by the Institute for Church Life and The Gender Relations Center at the University of Notre Dame, focuses on the subject of addiction to pornography and its devastating effects.

Christina (Chrissy) Moran is a former pornography star; entered the industry at age 26 and over the next six years, starred in over 30 videos and numerous photographs.

Donny Pauling is a former producer of both picture and video pornography; he produced over two million photographs and thousands of hours of video. He left the porn industry in 2006.

Sam Meier is a former pornography addict who developed an addiction when he received his first laptop in college. His addiction brought him to the brink of despair.

Beth Meier is Sam’s wife; the consequences of Sam’s addiction nearly ruined their marriage.


1 Comment

Easter Vigil 2014 – Why Catholicism?

I’m re-posting this from my Facebook Page.  Here on my blog there are other posts about this topic, for those interested in more detail on my reasons for converting.

More than 5 years ago, a Catholic ministry asked if I’d be willing to be interviewed for a documentary they were making regarding pornography. I was surprised, because from experience, those leaders in the Protestant churches with which I was familiar would never have asked a Catholic speaker to be part of a ministry project. I got curious. I’ve always been the type to go directly “to the source” if I want to know what someone believes (for example: if I wanted to know about YOU, should I ask YOU, or should I read a book that was written by someone who doesn’t like you?). I began asking questions about the things Catholics believe, and began arguing with Catholics about how wrong they were about certain issues. Matt Fradd and I even had recorded debates on issues such as baptism and other important topics.

Fr-Carlos Martins invited me to speak to students at York University in Toronto. We stayed up until 2am discussing theology and other things. He told me that he saw I would become Catholic. I told him that would never happen. He told me that not only would I be Catholic, I was called to be a Priest. Little did he know, I’d had such thoughts myself, and they were becoming more frequent.

Father James Mallon from Nova Scotia had me speak for his parish. All of you who have been around me for any length of time know that I’m not afraid to say what I’m thinking. I told Father Mallon that a good friend had recently told me that the Catholic Church is the biggest mission field in the world, because so many Catholics don’t realize what a deep, personal relationship they can have with Jesus. I asked what he thought of that statement. He replied, “Both I and the Pope would agree with that.” He then asked if I planned to stay outside taking pot shots at all that I thought was wrong about the Catholic faith, and criticize it incessantly, or if I would instead get in and help educate people, becoming a “missionary” to an enormous group of people who are dearly beloved by God. That challenge really moved me. Honestly, that challenge gnawed at me then and still does to this day.

I started digging deep into Catholic theology. I had many questions, many issues, and many disagreements. Yet I felt drawn to the church. I really do feel like there is much for me to do inside the Church. And although most of the Catholics I’ve met when they’ve had me come speak for them have VERY close walks with Jesus, I’ve also run into just as many who seem intimidated to approach him directly, particularly amongst the hispanic, spanish-is-their-first-language Catholics. I firmly believe it is perfectly fine to ask the Saints and Mary to pray for us, as there is scriptural evidence that they already do so. But I also began sharing with my Catholic friends that we are the bride of Christ, meaning Jesus is our spouse. The Bible tells us that in our natural lives, when we are married we are to leave father and mother and cling to our spouse. This means we can and SHOULD therefore go directly to Jesus. Going to Him through a saint or His mother is not necessary (but again, asking for their prayers is great). The thing is, this line of thought does NOT conflict with Catholic theology in any way. I’ve been told, even by a Deacon, “Thank you for the reminder that we can have such a personal relationship with Jesus.”

I feel the unmistakable call of God to be a missionary to His Church, and I have pursued it. I am willing to be used in any manner He wishes. That pursuit continues tonight, as I am to be confirmed in just a few hours and will enter into full communion with the Catholic Church. I have NO DOUBTS whatsoever that I’m where HE wants me to be. I’m home.


Leave a comment

Facebook Posts Relating to Church History

There’s no excuse to be ignorant of Church History. Through it, we see what came before us and the price paid by others to bring us to where we are today. Studying it makes my faith stronger. Here are a few recent posts I put up on Facebook, sharing church history. Be sure to read the comments, as more is added within them.

 

  • Click here to read about the East-West Schism
  • Click here to read a timeline of important events in Church History (be sure to read the comments)


1 Comment

I’m Known For What I Say About Pornography. Now Let Me Briefly Address Homosexuality.

When speaking about porn, I’m often told that the perspective I share is different than what people are used to hearing.  I make it a point to try making things very personal.  I want people to realize that pornography involves real people with real feelings and real lives.  I want people to consider those on the screen as if it was someone they deeply love.

Not long ago, I took the stage of a church in Albuquerque, New Mexico, just moments after a group of young children had departed it.  I’d watched these beautiful, bright-eyed, hopeful little people sing their hearts out.  As children often do, they’d brought tears of happiness to many eyes, mine included.  In fact, their innocence had struck me in a way I couldn’t describe; as they sang I had to turn towards the walls because I was embarrassed to be seen literally weeping, yet not being able to put into words why I’d been so affected.

Standing in front of the parents of these children, I paused for a moment of silence before beginning.  I was afraid of their potential reaction to what I was about to say, but I also had a point to make.

“Your children are beautiful.  It won’t be long until they’re 18 and can make decisions on their own.  How would you feel if, on a Sunday morning, I walked up to you before service and congratulated you on the scene your little girl performed for me the day before, when I’d paired her up with a few men for my latest pornographic production?  Legal adult or not, and regardless of whether she’s ‘an adult making her own decisions,’ I guarantee you wouldn’t be okay with it, and you’d undoubtedly hate me.  So if it’s not okay to watch porn when it’s your little girl in the starring role, why’s it okay when it’s someone else’s?   They’re all someone’s little girl, and they’re all daughters of The King, which literally makes them princesses.  No princess is supposed to be treated like that.”

People were impacted.

These children had not yet hit puberty.  That being the case, I wonder what the impact would have been if I’d have said, “Your children are beautiful.  It won’t be long until they’re old enough to really start feeling butterflies inside as they discover a new love interest.  What if that love interest shares their same gender?  … so if it’s not okay to make your little boy or little girl feel like crap about themselves based on who they find attractive, why’s it okay when it’s someone else’s…. ?”

If it’s not already obvious, I’ll admit this article is inspired by the recent flap over Phil Robertson’s comments.  I’ve read the entire article in question half a dozen times, and personally find nothing offensive about it.  When it comes to my opinions on gay marriage, they are quite similar to those shared by Elton John in 2008 (for the record:  Elton later changed his opinion).  It’s easy to share these opinions freely. Perhaps too easy.  I wonder if it would be so easy for me if one of the children I love were in tears before me, begging me to pray with them in asking God to remove a same-sex attraction with which they didn’t want to live.

When I leave the stage, few people in the audience feel judged or condemned.  Many of them come up afterward and share their personal struggles relating to pornography.  Because they feel it is safe to do so.  Even though they’ve heard me share a message against pornography for the last 45 minutes to an hour.

God help me and God forgive me if there’s ever a time in the past, present or future when a person with a same sex attraction doesn’t feel equally safe around me.

What if it was my son?  What if it was your daughter?  

We’re all children of the King.  May I always keep in mind that I’m called to bring people to His love.  May I remember that His love is what changes lives.  May I always recall that when it comes to “fishing for men,” God has a “you catch ’em, I’ll clean ’em” motto, releasing me from the need to clean up anyone other than myself, and that only with His help.  I really don’t need to concern myself about whether or not God wants something changed in any life other than my own.  Admittedly, it’s quite hard for me to keep that in mind.

There’s lots of preachin’ to myself going on here this morning.  God help me to listen.

Ted Haggard shares thoughts on the Duck Dynasty matter here in an article well worth the read.


1 Comment

On Falling Back, and Voices in My Head

An email to a friend who asked if I think I’ll ever fall back to my old life:

H****,

You asked a question that I’m sure many have wanted to ask me: if I think I’ll ever fall back into my old life.

I’ll share a few thoughts.

I got into porn for a handful of reasons. I’ll share one: I thought it would be fun to be paid to be around naked women. I started by looking. I was only into solo photos; women posing all alone. It did nothing for me if they were with others, male or female, or if they were doing things to themselves. What got me going was a woman showing off her body. When I first started shooting porn, I was a prude by adult industry standards. Clients purchased what I created because I was great at recruiting people they weren’t used to seeing naked. I’d walk up to normal, everyday college girls and talk them into posing. I’d talk female professionals into posing. I’d talk moms whose bodies showed the evidence of having children into posing instead of being ashamed of their bodies. As time went on, clients demanded that I produce more graphic content, so I slowly did. What had repulsed me at the beginning of my career didn’t seem so bad by the end of it.

But the appeal of working with naked women was only part of the reason I started. Money was another, but that was actually far down the list. What really motivated me was hatred toward Christianity. Like anger, hatred is usually an expression of pain. I was deeply hurt when I started believing that all I’d been taught to be true was, in fact, a lie. To this day there is nothing I despise more than being lied to… it just feels like the ultimate form of disrespect. It was so disappointing to feel like a fool who had believed lies, and I channeled the pain of that  disappointment into anger, bitterness and hatred.

I loved my parents, so it made no sense to take my  disappointment out on them, even though they were the primary source of guidance into the Christian life I was ever increasingly believing to be a lie. So instead I hated people from their churches who displayed hypocrisy. I hated the legalistic denomination with whom they had chosen to align themselves. And soon I hated all Christians in general.

After XXXchurch started changing my perceptions of Christianity, I started praying and challenging God to prove to me that He is real. I did this while at the same time blogging about being an atheist. When He physically touched me in 2006, I no longer doubted He existed. But that touch isn’t where it ended. After I asked him to take control of my life, He started speaking to me. Sometimes in dreams, but other times in whispers right in my ear. It was amazing. That went on for a handful of months but then stopped. It didn’t happen again – His whispers in my ear – until October of 2012 as I sat on the porch of a seaside cafe, having coffee with a new friend in Australia. That was the last time to date. But it doesn’t have to ever happen again for me to be sure it was God speaking directly to me.

Some might say I’m crazy and haven’t heard God whispering in my ear, but am just hearing voices in my head. I know better. Some might say the shock I felt in September of 2006 wasn’t God, but something more realistic like a short in my car’s electrical system. But I know better.

The pain of disappointment is gone. I know He is real. I don’t want to rebel anymore. I have no reason to express pain via hatred anymore. I have no reason to “go back” to that life.

Instead I am driven to dig deeper, learn more, love more, keep inviting Him to change the yucky parts of me, and keep asking Him to let me see others the way He does. I love Him.  I don’t want to betray Him anymore.

– Donny