JustWantTruth....Great to have you on board! I would love to chat on whatever subject you have in mind. :))
I am 22 years old and am a senior in college, reside in the US
Congrats for going to college! I was 22 myself when I left the JWs for good (when I moved from home -- or rather, when home moved away from me), although I had been questioning for a number of years before this. With your dad being an elder, was it difficult to enroll in college, or did you have your parents' support? Did college help get you to realize things about the "truth" that you didn't know before? I totally immersed myself in the library in my first months at college, and got to read lots of Charles Russell's writings, plus "apostate" literature, and of course all the books on biblical scholarship.
Last summer I began questioning, which quickly turned into doubting, with transformed into full on challenging.
Yesterday slimboyfat started a thread that discusses how quickly one's stance can change even though doubts may initially have come more gradually.
I believed for almost 22 years everything about the "truth" so I asked my parents sincere questions. That was, I feel, a mistake I made looking in hindsight, however I don't know if I am the type of person that can just sit on some of the stuff that I learned.
Isn't that interesting? It's like what I was saying in another thread today. If you started off as an adult learning about the "truth", you are free to ask any question and voluntarily come to your own conclusion of whether the religion is "the truth". But for those who were first exposed to the religion as children, there is no such opportunity -- it is presented with the force of parental authority as the "truth", and the young mind is not able to critically examine the religion in the same way as a more experienced adult. But for those kids who get baptized, it's too late if you come to believe differently. When I was in your position, I didn't like not being able to think about certain things or come to conclusions that contradicted "dogma" but were otherwise supported by facts and logic. At least for me, cognitive dissonance didn't feel good, and I couldn't "just sit" on the stuff if I were expected to teach what I believed to be untrue door-to-door, or nod in agreement at the meetings.
I was sitting in the book study while we were going over the Revelation book
That book (as well as the Trinity Broshure) was one of the big things that got me to question the religion. I hadn't yet formally learned of the distinction between eisegesis and exegesis, but that book was a great object lesson in how arbitrary and unfounded the Society's "interpretations" are; it was patently clear that the wacky interpretations were being read into the text and did not arise from any natural reading of the biblical apocalypse. I remember one book study in particular when I was 20 or 21 and I had a ton of homework to do for Greek class and I thought, "What am I doing here, wasting my time on this gibberish, when I have some real biblical study to do?" (we were translating the gospel of Mark in the class). I think that was the last book study I ever went to.
I noticed that in Revelation 22: 6 it says that Jehovah sent his angel while in verse 16 is says that" I, Jesus sent my angel". Who sent the angel?! I laughed and recalled hearing something about the society restoring God's name where it was taken out. I thought that maybe they had just made a mistake here so I did research first on the WT library then outside and to my shock found that not only did they add the name Jehovah 237 time but there was absolutely NO textual support for doing so in the greek or any of the other manuscripts. I started doing additional research and found how they have tried so hard to downplay the significance and deity of Jesus and I just felt that it was pathetic. I couldn't stomach it any more!
Tell me about it! lol The Trinity broshure was the nail in the coffin for me...what bothered me was not the doctrinal truth of the matter but that the Society would lie to me by writing things that were factually untrue, and that I had to accept that as truth. The dishonesty about earthquakes also blew me away, and I also discovered on my own that what they taught about stauros and crux is contradicted by some of the very sources they cite.
As much as it will hurt to lose my parents and my brother, it will just about kill me to lose my nephew. I couldn't love him more if he was my own child and, even though he is still very young we are so close to each other.
I'm sorry that you must face this difficulty....I hope you will be able to find a way around things. It might be worth considering to keep your true doubts private and become inactive gradually over time, maybe saying if pressed that it is something you can't talk about but is something you're trying to work out (maybe implying depression and anxiety, if that is how your situation is making you feel). If you otherwise show yourself to be a loving, morally exemplary "good association" but spiritually weak, that might be a way to thread the needle and "leave" while keeping your family intact. But don't do anything before giving it a lot of thought...and hopefully some people here who have been in the same situation might be able to give you some advice. (I can't since I never was baptized and my family is pretty liberal and don't shun their other ex-JW relatives).