I was never a pioneer, an elder or a ministerial servant and I
was never wrongly dis-fellowshipped. I don’t have any hard feelings towards any
Witnesses whatsoever. My choice to leave the organization was strictly based on
what I found out about the history of the organization, the roots of its
teachings and its contrast with historic Christianity. I guess there were times
when I felt I was a model Jehovah’s Witness, but then there were times when I
can say just the opposite. I was the prodigal son on more than one occasion you
might say. I hope to reach anyone who can identify with my story.
I was born and raised into the Jehovah’s Witness religion. I, like most people raised in this faith, was raised not to question that this religion was indeed “the Truth.” Growing up I remember the “joys” of being raised a Witness: The bathroom trips (spankings) to keep me, my brother and sister in line if we acted up during the meetings, (my younger brother and I were always noisy and fidgety at the meetings), the alienation in school for not being able to take part in any celebrations or much of anything for that matter with no real understanding of exactly why other than, “I’m a Jehovah’s Witness and I’m not allowed…”, our sudden made up bouts of sickness before nearly every meeting, the constant nightmares and night time fears of demon attacks, smurfs, and trolls and so on. As kids, we all had these fears and this seems to be a common theme among children raised in the Watchtower.
Our attendance at the Kingdom Hall was sporadic. I think we just wore my mother out to the point that she gave up often. Then, after some time would go by, we’d go back. I always believed it was “the Truth,” but thought that I could never be good enough for Jehovah and that I’d be destroyed. I figured I’d wait until I became an adult before I’d do anything with it (if the world was still here as we knew it). I just wanted to be a kid and do the things that the “cool” kids did.
My feelings of inadequacy grew worse as I got into my teens. My brother and I were always looked upon as the “black sheep,” the cause of all the other Witness kids’ problems. If any of the kids our age at the Kingdom Hall got in trouble, we were blamed because they were around us “troublemakers.” Of course, at some point down the road, most of the Witness parents realized that was not the case because their kids were getting into trouble without us around. (That’s another story.) Most of the Witness kids we knew had fathers who would discipline them. Since we grew up without a father, we got into some things “incidental to youth” that may otherwise have been avoided. Thus, we were never really accepted by most Jehovah’s Witnesses as “good association.”
Many years went by and I was experiencing some of the lasting effects of my poor choices when I came in contact with an old Witness friend of the family. He was/is a Presiding Overseer at the congregation I ended up attending for many years. He encouraged me, and I ended up really taking hold of the faith of the Watchtower organization, which I thought was a dedicating of my life to Jehovah. I later discovered that wasn’t the case, but that I was just making a legal dedication to the organization, not to Jehovah himself.
I was active in the congregation and went out in door-to-door “service” frequently and held several responsibilities. Over the years, I made some really “good” (temporary) friends, but there always were things that bothered me. For instance, when the going got tough and flesh nature came out, the temporary nature of Witness “friendship” was revealed. We’d be in field service and after a good experience at a door, I’d get back into the car, eager to share with the group the experience I had we could build each another up. But it seemed like all anyone wanted to talk about was what they were doing later that day, what movie they saw the night before, or some gossip about a brother or sister, etc.
Voluntary service to God became mandatory service to an organization and it showed. I saw very “mature” brothers at get-togethers, stumbling around intoxicated and then giving assembly parts at the next convention on “maturity” and being a “good example.” I couldn’t understand some of the hypocrisy going on, but who was I? I knew I was a sinner, so I never made a big issue out of it. These are only a few of the things I was bothered by.
My “friends” who were all “responsible brothers” in the congregation and I eventually found ourselves attending quite a few Jehovah’s Witness so-called “Christian” get-togethers for the purpose of building one another with clean activities. But the ones we found always seemed to involve excessive drinking and other questionable activities. We never really even got counseled for it except when a group of us ended up allowing some under 21 year olds to drink (I think they were 19 or 20). Everything was good as long as we made it to all the meetings, got in our “service time” and put on the appearance of righteousness. That kept us in the good graces with the overseers. In Jehovah’s Witnesses, it really rings true that it’s not what you know, but who you know that matters. As you can see by now, I’m not claiming that I was ever just some innocent bystander, but I think you get my point. I had issues in the past with being a “troublemaker” that others were warned to stay away from, but it turns out that if you get in with the right group of brothers, it is ok to break the rules with immunity. Here I was trying to convince myself that what I was doing was wrong, and I was constantly begging God to change me, but everyone else I was around was doing the same thing, so no real motivation existed for change. Remember, these were the ones who were “pillars” in the congregation.
It seems that drinking to excess is common in the Witness community. I guess there exists a need to find some sort of release from all of the pressure that constantly weighs on the average Witness—pressures like never doing enough for the Watchtower’s faultfinding, boxed up ideas of God, living with constant guilt of sin because of a misunderstanding of the ransom sacrifice, being measured on how much you “do” in “Jehovah’s service,” never really finding true happiness and peace and not able to figure out why, unanswered prayers, feeling like prayers go unanswered because of something you’re doing wrong or your sinfulness, etc.
In all of that, I came to the conclusion that I was inherently bad and needed to get right with Jehovah if I had any chance at all. I still believed that this was the true religion but that I could never be good enough. I was afraid to turn myself in for fear of losing my family. I remembered how in the past when the partying got too out of hand, I had confessed to the elders in hopes of receiving help, but they basically told me that the next time this happened, I would be disfellowshipped. So, approaching the elders for “help” was completely out of the question and “Jehovah” didn’t seem to be answering my prayers either. In my own strength, I’d get back on track for a while, only to fall right back to my ungodly ways, only worse the next time around.
At this point, I figured I was done for and that was when I really started going down hill. I was drinking every day and depressed something fierce. I had become an alcoholic and started messing with drugs to escape the constant fear and loathing of my lifestyle. I was pretty much on the verge of ending it all. If I couldn’t get right with God, what was the point of living.
Meanwhile, for probably 3 to 4 years, my sister had been out of the Watchtower and had been sending me information regarding the Witness faith to try to get me to look at it and evaluate it. She was just planting seeds, but I got upset most of the time and responded pretty harshly to her. Finally, it got to the point where I thought, I’m going to do some research and prove her wrong so she’ll leave me alone. Still defending the Watchtower for whatever reason, I guess this was my last ditch effort to “please” God. Well, that was the beginning of the end of my affiliation with the Watchtower and the start of my real life in Christ.
What I found was shocking, to say the least! The false prophesies, lies, cover-ups, crazy doctrines, the roots of the religion and so on. To sum up, I did a ton of research and listened to some CDs, one by David Reed, a former Jehovah’s Witness elder, and one by Randy Watters, a former Watchtower Bethalite. That was enough!
I asked Jesus right then and there to save me from this slow painful death. Within a couple of weeks, I decided to try out my newfound faith and ask Jesus to take away my issues with addiction. I was still struggling big time, but two days later, I was healed, changed, and fixed! (Whatever you’d like to call it.) I haven’t looked back since. I now have all the things I read about in the Bible, but never had before.
I have love, joy, peace, hope, faith, and even though I know I’m a sinner and my “works” are filthy rags, I know I belong to Christ and am free in Him!
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