Between love and "me"
The following is an old post on the HO2. It’s a little long but if you have a little time it tells a story about how to be an elder inside JW
Between love and me - part I
It’s late night and I’m just coming home from another long elder meeting. The children and my wife were sleeping when I got home. I sit here in front of the computer with the table covered with a lot of paper, but also my loving Bible. The thoughts are deep and long after kissed my daughter goodnight at the edge of her bed and had a prayer to Jehovah with her. Maybe she didn’t listen half sleeping but as usual she kissed me goodnight. I thought about my dear brothers and sisters in deep trouble. They are confused over changes made to what they believe was an unchangeable truth.
Passing the 40 it’s time to look back. Life has, in general, been good. The prime look back is just as “old mister blue eye” said “My regrets are few, but then again too few to mention.” But again we all have the survival instinct - maybe that’s what is going on.
I was raised as a JW with parents strong enough to think independent. I was able to get a university education. My father was an elder and that maybe protected me - injustice or not, but lucky for me. I tried to combine it with at great deal of work in the congregation and on the witnesses work once or twice a year as a temporary pioneer. I did my best, so the blame was neutralised. Now being an elder for the last 15 years, I think I have more experience to look at both the past and the goings on right now in the WT.
A lot of good people have left the Borg, but many ex JWs are filled with anger, and sometimes hate. It totally destroys the ability to think clear with a free mind. Too much looking back and too little will to take life as the response of our own. But maybe a lot of broken hearts are left by the Wt's hand, which I regret very much.
That’s what really makes great concern to me. Who has built this system of rules and “big eye watch”? Is it the WT/GB or is it just a human mechanism? Maybe we as humans add something we thought was right to do but in fact was totally wrong. Who is to blame – the system or we the followers?
Many out there have quit JWs and with a lot of bitterness. I do understand the feeling behind this – but have you been able to get at better life or do you have better balance? Or maybe more important, do you feel more in contact with Jehovah and Jesus? I don’t know but the anger also tells a story.
I’m inside and play an active role as a JW and elder. Speaking in front of 75 people or several thousand isn’t always an easy job, trying to find a balance between what the Society expects you to tell and what your conscience allowed. I haven’t found the final answer to that. Meanwhile I All just trying to see my face in the mirror in the morning without destroying the mirror!
But it also fills me with pleasure to tell about the love of Jehovah and Jesus and the word of the Bible to us as human being trying to live at good life with care and love to each other. It’s not my job to tell other specifics and by rules how this must be done by the individual. Each person must find its own way of the will of God to each person. My job as elder and speaker is to convince the brothers and sisters that they do count. We all have the same values to God and I try to point out the good outcome of doing the will of God. I’m not the Judge to say that they succeed in this or not. Only Jesus is the one to do that.
My experience tells me that the opportunities of speaking as you conscience allowed are very different from one country to another and even inside a country. I’m lucky to life in a land (in Europe) with more understanding of that. We all are different and that this is strength, but anyway the understanding of this is under debate with very different opinions.
My hopes– even small – are to the young ones. We have a growing part of both sexes now better educated than before, and a stronger will to think clear. They are questioning all authority and demanding answers that are well founded on the Bible as the word of God. They don’t just obey because the WT or us as elders says so. If we tells that the WT say so and so they don’t care as much at they did before. They don’t debate provoking just select what they are able to accept. Of course this can lead to wishes of the flesh but the positive elements are bigger and more important. It’s our job to make the positive elements attractive.
In the congregations we are facing problems. Many are leaving or just stopping little by little. Of course we have the ordinary cases with moral matters, but many are leaving because they just aren't able to handle all the demands or they disagree with GB/WT. People do not trust the explanation of the prophecies of Daniel and the Revelation. They sometimes just smile, to this sometimes-stupid explanation. More and more I agree inside. But anyway those thoughts a not spoken – no one dare to do. The fear is still a strong controlling factor.
About the old ones of the sisters and brothers: They are confused about the missing Armageddon and the “missing 1914-generation” or they have stopped thinking and just moving on as they used to do and as they were told. But a lot have an empty look in their eyes – only a cold heart don’t feel sorrow about that - but many are unable to see it or they have built up a wall of blindness
Bach again to the late nights thought. I’m not sentimental and am even not a social man. I feel the most balance and contact to Jehovah climbing in the Alps. Climbing all alone in total silence at night, and to be close to the summit when the sun is raising from the east and seeing all the nature that Jehovah has given us fills me with new power.
It easy just to think about your own but others your family that you love and all the brothers and sisters depending of care and love bind you to your destiny so you can’t just leave.
I went back to the rooms of my son and daughter - just to have a look at them - before my own sleep. They look happy sleeping, and my wife, too. I must be a happy man and tell myself to be so. Just for sure I repeat that to once more.
It’s a hard way finding your inside one but it’s not getting easier when years are coming and going.
Between love and “me” – part II
The headline expresses the conflict several elders and I are going though. I have been an elder since I was a young man of about 30. Now I’m passing 40 with a couple of years. Hear living in Europe my life has giving me some experience. I love my family and my brothers and sisters, but because of the “system,” I feel caught in a spin that makes me sometime test my conscience to the breaking point. It’s not an easy task to be an elder in conflict between your personal conviction and all the press and demands from the societies of WT. Maybe if you’re an elder doing a little laying back this could be easier but in front line it’s more complicated. This means that you have to speak in public in the congregation, but also sometime in front of several thousand people with a disagreement when the content is in disharmony with your personal beliefs. Then the thoughts are: Maybe you are wrong and they are right. But sometimes you conclude that your own feelings are right, and who knows to whom Jehovah gives his spirit! The good thing about speaking in public is that you still have the opportunities to give the text a turn in a direction where you are able to live with it. But it’s very important to stay on the right side of the limit and don’t provoke too much and always stay to the Bible – just to protect your self.
For me the matter is to believe in what a Christian is by the way Jesus told us to be? He is the picture of Jehovah and the way he lived his human life and the way he looked at other people and his disciples is an ideal for us. He was caring and patience with all and handled every one with personal understanding and a forgiving attitude. He still said, “do no more sin”, but he was not the one to blame the weak sinner, but to give power to change the past of bad thing to better with respect to each person. He was looking after the good things and encouraged the sinner to change to the better.
JW has built a system where these things seams to be the ones to follow, but the reality are a lot different. We have build up a lot of rules to protect the unity. Those rules has become very important and protecting them is the main thing to do and many people are left behind destroyed and with broken hearts. It’s very hard realising you are unable to do much about – only in small scale you can do a little. Very often as elders we try to cure the patient, but the better way was to cut away the causal relation. But that’s not the case or the opportunities. We very often just try to stop the “bleating” and hope their patience will survive, but that’s the only thing we can do. It’s hard to live with.
Still there are a lot to do and a lot to consider that binds you as a destiny. I love my family – wife and 2 children - and they do love me as well.
Many brothers and sisters are weak and demand a lot of care and understanding. Some have a lot of problems – sometime because of the system – that have to be taken care of. It fills me with sorrow mainly to see the older ones - still very faithful but confused over the time still going on with no paradise. Of course the Bible never said, “we would never know the time”, but anyway we were told that this was to happen very soon in our time and at least before the “1914 generation” was gone. Now this anchor has gone. What’s now to believe? My job is to tell them what to belief. What shall I tell them!!!! For me it’s not the main point, because I never have put my faith into sometimes fantasy explanations about 607, 1914, 1975, 1914-generation etc because I think we only have to live our life according to Jesus' word about staying awake because the day will come as a thief in the night. But for most JWs, their faith is close connected to these explanations.
I see all the conflict and broken hearts but still also a lot of love between people in the congregations. The main part is trying to live the best they can and don’t think too much. The living thought in the human mind has bad conditions. The search after the meaning of life has - in acknowledge of that this live for the main part only has a little to offer - been forced to rebuild the reality with self-believed fantasies. Only by doing that, life has a deeper “meaning”. If you fail to that the only way to survive is to live without the thought.
For many people inside the JWs, the daily life fills everything. The heavy burden of daily and weekly life as a JW for many is so big an effort that many just give up to what becomes their destiny. They become a little wheel in a big machine where all the wheels just going on and on without any kind of thinking and the purpose for the individual become dark and almost non-existence. To think about tomorrow becomes too heavy a burden. It fills me with sorrow to see so many destinies like this. Only a few have the power and strange to stop up and think by themselves. What a pity.
Being an elder today and trying to be a part of solving this situation is like trying to climb an ice wall without the necessary equipment. Very frustrating and you risk your life. Also telling them of JW's explanation of prophesies from Daniel and Revelation is a hard job to do when you doubt and think the explanation are a fantasy bubble. Sometimes it only brings fear, and in my opinion a wrong and bad expression of Jehovah and Jesus our Lord. The fear becomes too much a purpose to maintain power and man's control. Maybe not by bad will, but just the way things have gone when years come and go. The situation becomes more and more frozen and problems keep growing and growing.
But still it’s very impressive what has been build up by the JWs during the last 100 years or so. What has built this? We all agree when we look at the universe that this has to be built by someone. Maybe not a fair comparison but anyway the doubt is still there.
In Mat. 9:16 it’s written: “On seeing the crowds he (Jesus) felt pity for them, because they were skinned and thrown like sheep without a shepherd.” I fell the same for many, but unfortunately I’m not Jesus. I’m just one more elder with only little power to do something about it. But still “the little” is better than nothing so I just can leave them. But “me” is suffering. That’s the conflict between “love and me.”
As told, only doing the high mountain climbing gives me satisfaction. Climbing at night all alone under the light of the moon and being on a 4-5.000 m summit in the Schweiz or France Alps in the morning and see the sun raise from the east is like seeing Jehovah, and fills me with gratitude being living - even death is the follower of the climber. More and more sitting in the congregation I only as the lonely wolf wish to be out in the mountains trying to find peace in mind to feel like a living person in close contact with Jehovah.
I not bitter on my own, but feel sorrow for everyone left on the road with broken hearts and sometimes destroyed lives. I even do understand that anger and sometime hate is a natural reaction of all the hurting, but I still don’t think it’s a good way to become a whole person again. But I know that’s easy to say and sometimes nearly impossible to do in practice.
What a pity for us all.
This could be the last sentence but let's try to look at it another way. Life isn’t that bad. As Romans 12:21 says:
“Do not let yourself be conquered by the evil, but keep conquering the evil with the good.”
This means that life always will find a way to survive. Love is the strongest power and the only way to conquer the bad and evil. To lay back in anger and hate will only destroy us all. We have to look forward and trust our Lord Jehovah and Jesus. They will never let us down and forget us if we, despite all bad experience, still believe and trust – not on man but God. Maybe not easy but the opposite is worse.
Let’s give life a change. Leave the dark room and the computer. Go out to take a real look at people and your family. There’s at lot of good thing there – just have a look. Go and let the book of Nature and the Bible show you the kind of God. Trust your self and your believes and the free mind and thought. Give you self the change to see smile and joy.
It’s just another late night. I'm just having a last look at the children sleeping. I went to the room of my son – he’s close to being a teenager now. He seems to be happy sleeping. I know he trusts me in total (He still think his father is the strongest man in the world). In time he will recognize that we are all small and weak, but despite that future acknowledgement I thing he still will love me as I love him.
Let us not just focus on our self and all the bad and dark thoughts - they will just eat us up from inside - instead let's give life a chance.
A voice from Europe
Your statement: "...trying to find a balance between what the Society expects you to tell and what your conscience allowed. I haven’t found the final answer to that," reminds me of a brother, an elder, a close friend of mine in Austell, GA. He was reflective, philosophical, gentle, kind, well-motivated, and he too could not comport the teachings and policies of the JWs with the direction provided by his own spirit (all who are led by the spirit of God are the children of God).
He fought for fairness, for common sense, for the application of love in the congregation, especially as it was related to those in "trouble" the ones who needed love the most. I watched him struggle with this for years. Watched him attempt to lead by example. The typical elders, which we had in abundance, could hardly disguise their dislike for him and his application of love. The typical elder is nothing but a bureaucrat, a policeman. Love has nothing to do with their motivation.
In the end, my friend wrote a letter of disassociation, and sent it to every member of the congregation, not just the elders. He was especially good with people who had marital problems, especially the young ones who rushed into marriage so as not to fall into moral problems. Now they had marital ones because their marriages were ill-motivated. With our gray hair, we realize the futility of romantic love. However, when you're in your late teens and the hormones are raging, romantic love seems like the answer to all things...as you know.
I'd like to give you a quote from a book I'm reading about this very topic: "God does not require of you as the price of entering the kingdom of heaven that you should force yourself to subscribe to a belief in things which are spiritually repugnant, unholy, and untruthful. It is not required of you that your own sense of mercy, justice, and truth should be outraged by submission to an outworn system of religious forms and ceremonies. The religion of the spirit leaves you forever free to follow the truth wherever the leadings of the spirit may take you. And who can judge--perhaps this spirit may have something to impart to this generation which other generations have refused to hear?"
Perhaps you are hearing what the WT refuses to hear? To whom do you owe your ultimate loyalty? The loud, demanding, false prophet in New York, or the small, quiet voice of the Spirit speaking to your innermost being?
Think about it.
I remember reading this post before, it made me think on
how to be more balance with my family. Im an ex-dub and was
angry when I first left the borg. I read your post and
it calm me down alot as well as others who post here that help
me realize just to live my life no matter the circunstance and work
with it.my wife and kids still go to the meetings and I da'd myself
two years ago, but you know what ? we are closer now then ever
before that we as a household don't let the watchtower play apart
in our family happiness.TY for your food of thought well taken.
you live,learn and move on.
Bernard, on another thread I pointed out that God could never have made the sun stand still in the sky as alleged in that book of Hebrew secular history. If He did make the sun stand still, it would be a species of lie. Thanks for your unwitting support.
I enjoyed reading this post. I have not yet found my balance. I agree that there has to be one. I have so much anger for some in the org.
Likewise I have never looked to a date as to when the end comes. So many are indeed disappointed by us being so "close" to the end and nothing has happen. (1914 generation) That is what happen when you listen to man to much.
Like this elder I no longer have the heart to try and talk to people about the things the JW say. I still attend the meetings, but so many things have changed for me. My eyes have been open. I still love Jehovah and Jesus. Currently I am dis'f. I am not rushing to go back, I need this time to get my head together.
Thanks for the post.
Outstanding post Beroea. You have summed up life as a JW, and the internal crisis of conscience we have all felt, very eloquently.
Thanks for letting us into your mind.
I remember that post from H2O. I also remember when you came on and I had e-mailed you to discuss some of your thoughts as well as an identity matter. You replied and then I lost track of you. (I posted under a different screen name)
It is good to hear that you still walk the tight rope with a delicate balance. We will all stand before the judgment seat of God - individually, and no one should force us to deny our conscience as Jehovah holds us accountable individually.
I find much encouragment from my personal Bible reading. It gives me time to get away from the "forest of ideas" (many human ideas - even my own) and get direction on what path is right for me to follow. Needless to say following the path that Jesus forged is always right. He says that his yoke is kindly and his load is light. When the yoke becomes oppressive and the load heavy then something is wrong. It's time for self examination. Taking out the compass that points to due north will send us in the direction of Jehovah and his spirit which will help us make a proper evaluation and give us peace.
Peace is not something that comes to us automatically. It is something we pursue, something we chase after, something we make and something that we can share. Your post shows that you agonize over many things but continue to seek peace- with yourself, your family and your cong,and most of all Jehovah.
Never allow anyone to separate you from this peace that is proof that the spirit of Jehovah is resting on you. Learn from the examples of the Israelites who as a nation were approved and then cast off. Yet individuals maintained their approved relationship and had a measure of peace. As a nation they had peace and Almighty support and threw it all away.
No matter what happens even just one person can make a difference. A difference for him/herself as well as those in your immediate circle.