Editor’s note: Donny Pauling is a former, highly successful porn producer. He left the industry after experiencing a dramatic conversion. You can read more about his incredible story here.
November 8, 2012 (DonnyPauling.com) - When I speak, I have a goal to open up everything I’ve got, pouring my heart out and giving away all emotional energy to the audience. At the end of the time I talk I’m almost always exhausted, but happy. My style isn’t to “preach” at people, but rather share the mistakes I’ve made and what I’ve learned from them. Each listener is free to eat the meat and spit out the bones: take what applies to them, toss what does not. I’m convinced this is what God wants me to do.
Prior to taking the stage, I have the same very simple prayer I pray: “Your words, God. Your words.” I want to share the things He wants me to share, and nothing more. I’ll never doubt the passage in scripture where we’re told He can use all things for good… because I see the truth in that passage every single time He gives me the opportunity to share what He’s done in my life. Not long ago, I produced a product that tore lives apart in numerous ways. Now, He uses those experiences to start processes that put marriages back together, free people from perversion, even bring people to the place where they surrender their lives to Him for the first time. It’s sometimes so overwhelming that I literally sit in my hotel room and cry joyfully afterwards. I look in the mirror and can’t understand why the face I see is one He’s chosen to use to do this. It’s very humbling.
I’m very blunt in what I say, and try to be “real”. This often results in people sharing things with me that they’ve likely never told anyone… or at most very few others. For example, in one church a man walked up afterwards and asked to talk a bit. He needed to know how to forgive himself. The conversation started with something like, “After hearing what you said this morning, I’ll bet you’ve heard everything.” I nodded my head affirmatively to encourage him to say what he needed to say. He proceeded to tell me things he’d done to animals. Inside I thought, “Well now I’ve heard everything… I guess I hadn’t before!”
As I listened to his story, I learned he was deep in counseling and had come clean with his wife, who’d forgiven him. The major issue he faced was forgiving himself. To be honest, I didn’t much feel like talking to him. My stomach felt a little queasy. I was shocked and a little angry at the things he’d said. But I also had to remind myself that plenty of people feel the same way towards me when I share some of the things I’ve done. I kept praying silently in my mind while he spoke, asking God for words to give to this man. When the words come from HIM, I can tell by watching the face of the person I share them with – faces light up… that’s the best way I know how to describe it.
I reaffirmed a few things he’d told me: “You’ve asked God for forgiveness? You’ve been forgiven by your wife? You’ve been in counseling, and are continuing with that?” The first question is really the only one that mattered, yet each of them was answered with a ‘yes’, and I felt God wanted me to tell him this:
“God has given you an amazing present, gift wrapped with a beautiful bow on top of it. Inside the package is something called ‘grace’. If you can’t let go of this guilt it’s like you’re pushing God’s gift back at Him and telling Him you don’t like it… that it’s not good enough for you. Just accept his present, my friend.” The huge smile on his face let me know this is indeed what God wanted him to hear. The thing is, I also needed to hear those words, as I sometimes have problems forgiving myself, too.
Funny how God works like that.
One morning after speaking, a good-looking teenage boy came up to talk to me. He was very real with me when he told me about his struggles with sex: “I don’t have a girlfriend, but lots of girls like me so I sleep around a lot. It’s fun, but I know it’s not God’s ideal for me. How do I stop?” As always, I mentally asked God what to share with him as he spoke. I could tell this kid was a bit on the aggressive side, and fist fights were probably something with which he was familiar.
I asked, “If you did have a girlfriend, I bet you’d be willing to fight for her, wouldn’t you?” His chest inflated, masculine posturing at its finest.
“Of course!” he grinned.
“Well, in fist fights wounds heal quickly. Black eyes go away. In a few days it’s not a big deal anymore, and nothing to brag about. But what if you could fight a REAL fight… one that IS worth bragging about? Let’s say it’s two years from now when God brings into your life the woman of your dreams. Right now, with all the sleeping around you’re doing, you don’t really have anything special to offer her, sexually. But what if you could walk up to her and tell her, ‘The last two years I’ve been fighting the hardest battle of my life for you, for the thought of you, and I didn’t know you yet’? Isn’t THAT a fight worth winning? Keeping yourself sexually pure for her is the way you fight.”
A smile spread across his face. I challenged him to fight a battle that would actually test his worth as a man… to see as God’s daughters the girls who were so easily ready to give him what wasn’t his to take, and to fight for them, too, even when they weren’t willing to fight for themselves. When a girl threw herself at him, he could truly be a Knight in Shining Armor if he turned the opportunity aside, reminding himself that she isn’t his… that God has someone special for him (and for her) if he’d just wait patiently. They say every man needs a battle, and his would be fought not just for himself, but for all the girls willing to sell out so cheaply for a bit of his attention. He got it.
I try to remind myself of similar things when I walk around. I try to make a habit of bouncing my eyes up to the face of a beautiful woman, and often repeat “not mine” in my head or even verbally. She’s not mine. God has her set aside. She’s not mine. She’s His little girl, and she needs me to fight for her by keeping my eyes where they should be. Her Daddy God is always watching, and I really don’t want Him catching me visually molesting her. Any animal is capable of giving in to lust. Be a man, Donny. Be a real man.
I remind myself of these things often, and each successful battle fought brings more strength for winning the war.