Boy oh boy where to start? Lots of changes over the last seven years. This week I had been reflecting on just how drastically my life has changed for the better since loosening the grip of the Watchtower Society.
In brief, my life seven years ago this month looked liked this; my family was very unhappy after nearly a decade of serving the "happy God" of the Watchtower and being part of the "happiest people on earth". I really thought that since I was supposed to be happy and wasn't and just could not "get happy" there must have been something wrong with ME. I was internalizing all the unhappiness of my family and one day in early fall 2003 I sat in my bedroom while my children played downstairs with a large quantity of pills in my posession and thought about killing myself. In desperation I called a "friend" from the Kingdom Hall and told her I was so depressed I wanted to hurt myself and she in response to that .............hurried me off the phone telling me to "pray to Jehovah" and she had to go because the meeting was starting soon.
I was completely dumbfounded. This lady, the wife of an elder lived accross the street from me and did not come over, tell her elder husband, call my husband or do ANYTHING to help me! The clock was ticking, this was the day to end it all.
What led up to this moment was the previous evening when my husband and I had one of our many arguements about the Kingdom hall, the Watchtower, etc. and I told him I no longer wanted anything to do with Jehovah's Witnesses. I told him I do not feel God's spirit in the kingdom hall, instead I felt a wicked, mean, self centered spirit coming from most of the people I knew. Our children were sad all the time. Our 9 year old son was afraid of being destroyed at Armageddon, our 11 year old daughter suffered from depression and social anxiety and it was because no matter how much we do (meetings, service, donations, etc) we never did enough. We never felt God's love or approval or knew if we were saved. And now in addition to all that, my marraige to my husband was on the rocks because I was honest with my feelings and he responded by telling me that if I leave the Watchtower, he was leaving me and he walked out the night before my comtemplating suicide with the checkbook and credit card, which were only in his name anyway.
So here I was with nothing. I had NO job, NO husband, NO faith in Jehovah, NO friends, My kids who I loved were a mess because of me, I literally had NOTHING to live for......................Or so I thought.
As a hung up the phone with my "friend" a small thing occured to me. I never really knew Jehovah so why would I pray to him? He is not someone I would want to know. The God of the Watchtower is angry, bitter, self centered, keeps account of wrongs and injuries is always looking to punish, non loving. As a matter of fact he is EXACTLY like many of the people I knew at the Kingdom Hall! This is when I realized he is an invention of the WT society. Jehovah was Not the God of my childhood. I remembered the God of my childhood who was Jesus Christ, but I turned my back on him years ago. And how can I go to him now? He doesn't even know me, nor I him anymore.
I was devasted and confused, not knowing what to do. Now I have no one and no God in my life. I felt like I was spiritually, emotionally and mentally drowning and there was no way out but death.
Then a small inner voice spoke to me. It simply said "if you knock I shall open, if you seek you shall find". Through the despair I was remembering this Jesus of my childhood and how he said "whatever you ask ME in my name I shall do it". Even though I was afraid and shaking, I cried to Jesus and told "Jehovah" (just in case he did exist) to forgive me if this is wrong but I want to speak directly to his Son just this once. So I cried and prayed and I asked Jesus to come into my heart and mind and save me. Save me from my despair and depression, save me from the Watchtower organization, save my children from the life of HELL that I put them in, save my marriage, save everything!
What happened next I will omit at this time. Because I saw a thread recently that was kind of anti born again. I will say this though I do agree with the article that it was an emotional experience. And that is because God promises to be with us when we are at our weakest. I also believe God takes many forms.
However, Christ answered my prayers and many of the things I thought but did not ask of him that night.
Fast forward 7 years.................... Is my life perfect? far from it. However, life is sooo much better for all of us. My family is thriving. Everything literally began to change that very nigh.
I told my husband the day after I called out to Jesus and prayed to him that he could leave if he so chooses but that I found in christ a relationship with God that was soo much better than the rubbish that the WT has to offer and that I had to leave to follow Christ. But he had to make his own decision. If he wanted to stay a JW that was fine with me but he could not take the children with him or I would go to court, file for divorce and get a restraining order blocking him from taking the kids to meetings because it was harming them emotionally. This was really the first time I stood up to him and I thought I would be scared to death but I wasn't. He proceeded to scream and yell for about 2 hours telling me and the kids were are going to be destroyed, etc. etc. All the WT rhetoric. Thinking back now I can see how fearful he really was and that is why he reacted the way he did.
Anyway, He decided to stay. In March we celebrated our 18th anniversary.
He did stay a Jehovah's Witness for another 3 months and then decided it was a bunch of bull. I wrote a 10 page disasociation letter with scripture explaining why I was leaving the WT cult and asking the elders in my hall to stop by and correct me if they wanted to but ONLY if the used the New Testment to do it. They declined to come by. And NOT ONE elder spoke to my husband even though his entire family stopped coming to the hall and his wife Da'd herself. He began to wonder what kind of spiritual men can these be? He thought for sure they would help him correct me, but he said they avoided him like they were afraid of him. That was the decideing factior for him to leave came about.
Both children had therapy and I was very truthful about the Watchtower and the teachings of it. The therapist explained that we were spiritually and emotionally abused by the WT and helped the children overcome their fears. My son is in 10th grade, a good student, a VERY happy kid with LOTS of friends and a really cute girlfriend.
My daughter, the artist who suffered the most in the WT being the eldest and a girl is doing fine too. She still has some anxiety but has lots of friends, is a senior graduating in may, has applied to colleges and is expected to get a merit scholarship as she has been all honors 4 years in a row.
I am working at a job I love and now have my own checking account and credit card........just in case.
We are all Christians (of varying beliefs on some issues) who no longer believe in the Watchtower, the made up Jehovah God of the WT or that a christian must attend a particular religion to "be saved". We believe Christ came into the world to save it through the finishing work of the cross and not condem it. I am currently going to night school for a biblical studies and ministry diploma and my husband has gone back to school too. He graduated with a business degree in June and recieved a great promotion at work. Our lives are very full and for the most part quiet. We have real joy on a daily basis.
As far as "church" we now understand we "ARE" the church. Meaning we are part of Christ's body of believers all over the world and do not have to attend any particular denomination. We go to a brick and mortar church when we want to and there are actually two in the are we like to attend for fellowship and two online churches we like as well. But we can fellowship and do fellowship with hundreds of Christians.
In addition to our christian friends we now have many other true friends from all belief backgrounds. We also got to really know our nieghbors after leaving the WT and have formed great friendships with them too. Our family who we turned our backs on being a Witness because we judged them as "worldly" welcomed us with opened arms again as if no time had passed between us. My kids got to meet great uncles and aunts they never knew and have more people to love them now then ever before. This is something we never had in the WT for even though they promised to take us in as "brothers and sisters" they never did. Their so called "love" for us was conditional on our meeting attendence and field service. Our families had true unconditional love for us just because we ARE family.
I have experienced this love in other real christian churches, We are treated by the members as being part of a spiritual family.
The best thing that happened to us is that we became Free in Christ. We read many times as a Witness this bible verse "you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free" but we never EXPERIENCED it as Jehovah's Witnesses. We now know the truth of this verse. We bump into witnesses from our old hall all the time and of course many of them shun us but we feel sad for them when this happens because we realize that they are not free, they are still enslaved to the WT. As freemen, we can speak to and smile at whoever we want to, but they cannot utter a simple hello without being in fear so they shun. They think they are punishing us in some way but in reality, they are the ones on punishment. I AM FREE, My husband is FREE, Both my children are FREE!
We are free to live and worship the way we want. Free to spend time with whomever we choose and have friendships with anyone we want. We can celebrate holidays and birthdays without feeling guilty, attend any church or none, vote in an election, hang a flag on our home, go to any school we choose, watch any program on television we choose to, read any books we want to, etc. etc. etc. You do not really fully grasp the freedoms you had given up UNTIL you out of the Tower for a long while.
There are still lingering scars but I think of them as battle scars. They are a reminder that we have been through a literal war, a spiritual war and came out alive at the other end. So the little scars I will carry all the rest of my life do not bother me. I've also come to realize that the WT is not unique. They are a cult of Christianity and a legalistic religion and many christians in the world are being duped by these groups and their faith is wrecked because of it. For my Christians friends, it comes down to us having the correct spiritual armor to defend ourselves against these groups. We need accurate knowledge of God, Christ Jesus and the word of God. In particular the new testament testimony of our Lord. We exchanged the lie for the truth once and it can happen again so we need to be viligent to make sure of all things.
All the cults of christianity replace God in your life with their organization. No one can be happy in any of them because God's spirit is not in them! It is God's spirit that builds us up, the cults tear us down. They lie to us telling us God is angry at us, God does not accept us as we are, that is is looking to destroy us. That is simply not true. There is also no love in them and the fruit the bear proves it. Like jesus said you will know his followers by their fruit. Are they filled with love, patience, kindness, etc. or with everything wicked? We need to always be on the watch that our faith is not wrecked again.
In many ways we are trully blessed. The Watchtower organization is the cause of many deaths including from suicide each year. I could have been one of the statistics. I literally was not in my right mind the night I thought death really was the answer to my problems. looking back on it now I shudder to think what might have happened to my children had they found me dead of suicide upstairs. I am sure they would not be in the good place they are now. We are all out as a family and getting stronger each day.
I am sure some who left the WT and are no longer Christians may mock some parts of my writing and say I was just emotional and that is was not God who saved my life that night. I respect your opinions but since I am the one who experienced it, I believe otherwise. Think about how many entire families you know who came out of the WT with family and faith intack? I am sure the number is quite small. I personally believe when you are in a group with a strong hold as tight as the Watchtower has on your lives including your beliefs, emotions, friendships, family relationships, mental state, etc. that you need divine help to break through.
And perhaps some of you will say that you experienced the same things and are NOT a Christian and so that proves God had nothing to do with my experience. To that I will ask you ...........are you sure? Maybe God is not done speaking to YOU yet.
These are some Scriptures that have been of immense value to me and I try to focus on them regularly. Hopefully they can help others thinking of leaving the WT cult too. Good luck to all, may you all have peace in your lives, and thanks for letting me share my story. Lilly
Then you will know the truth, and the truthwillset you free."
1 Peter 3:15
But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,
Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
By this all men willknow that you are my disciples, if you love one another."
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness