I've been watching the posts for a while, but I never have commented. There are so many strange and interesting things going on in the world of the Watchtower, that I thought I'd throw in my 2 cents. I guess I'll start with my story.
I was born and raised a Jehovah's Witness. I was baptized at age 13 (WAY too young). I worked my way through some of high school and when I was 16 I took the California proficiency test and got my diploma early. I did this so I could get started in the only work that was truly important...pioneering. I regular pioneered for 5 years. This was my first experience at not being "good enough" for Jehovah and his organization. While all the other pioneers seemed to get their time every month, I always struggled. In fact, I don't think I ever got my time in for all the years I pioneered. I think my dad being an elder was one of the only reasons they let me stay on.
Apparently I did not learn because I turned in my application and was accepted to bethel when I was 20. So on thanksgiving day in 2000 I was flying to New York. I served at the Watchtower Educational Center in Patterson NY. If I ever felt unworthy in field service...wow. There were rules for everything. Everything from sideburns, to how to make your bed, to how to butter your toast, to only wearing collard unbranded shirts, etc, etc, etc... I was constantly being talked to for something.
Morning worship starts every morning at 7 am sharp. ON THE SECOND! If I came to my seat 10 seconds late, my table head would look at his watch, shake his head, and give me a good talking to after breakfast. To make matters worse I had pretty much the worst job there was. I'm all for pitching in, but when you are cleaning toilets, it's hard to keep in mind that you are working for God. On the plus side I had some GREAT people that I was working with. Sadly some of them had been in bethel for 5 - 10 years and were STILL cleaning toilets.
After about 2 years of it I couldn't do it anymore. I was being talked to weekly about something. I was constantly being told to "tighten it up, chief, heh heh heh". I was called the "dysfunctional bethelite" by my friends. Even they would say "How did YOU get accepted to bethel". All of this just turned into horrible self esteem and I left in a depressed mess.
I went back home dejected and everyone in the hall excited that a real live bethelite was going to be in their congregation. I was so disillusioned I couldn't care less. I didn't want to be an example anymore. 7 years of being the example was too much. This seemed to disappoint everyone. It's not that I did anything wrong, I just...didn't do anything. It was too much.
In the middle of this I met my wife and moved to AZ. She is a JW, but not a very strong one in the usual standards. She believes it with all of her heart and will listen to NOTHING critical of it. We had 2 kids and I held on for as long as I could. I always knew something wasn't quite right with this organization. I hated calling ALL other people "worldly" and "goats" and speaking as if we were so much better than everyone else. But I still believed it was Gods organization.
About a year and a half ago I stumbled on Crises of Conscience. It rocked my entire world. It was everything I needed to know. It was validation for everything that I felt. I now had words to put to the feelings. Legalism, Double Standards, False Prophecy, Intimidation! These were things that I saw through a looking glass darkly. I devoured the book and immediatly went to my wife, who was pregnant with our 2nd child. What a shock her reaction was to me. I tried to communicate this in the best way I knew how, but I can see now that it wasn't the best way to go about it. I just tried to get her to see that we had been lied to all these years.
What I've come to realize is that being a JW is her ENTIRE identity. She has NO other identity. She was offered a free ride to NYU for her acting, and she turned it down because she knew it would keep her from being a witness. So it was too much for her to see. She asked me to not bring it up again until she was no longer pregnant.
Over the months I've tried to keep quite about all that I've learned. I read "Christian Freedom" and "Captives of a Concept" and have never been more sure of anything in my life. I began studying the Bible like no other, and really feel that I've learned so much more from it.
But the fork in the road has come over the last few weeks. I told her during a conversation on the phone that there is not a shadow of a doubt in my mind that this is not God's organization. In fact, according to the Watchtowers own literature, IT CAN'T BE! I came home to find my study bible ripped to shreds along with all our wedding photos. I was able to somehow smooth things over and calm her down. This weekend she found some things that I had been posting on youtube. She read some of them and came into the room and told me that we were through. She doesn't think it's safe for her and the kids to stay with me. She said I'm trying to sabbatoge her spirituality.
She said, Unless I change course and start living and acting like a JW, she will be filing divorce papers. I don't know what to do. I have a new found Christian faith in God. I understand SOOO much more of the Bible than I ever did. And yet to keep my family I have to either continue living a lie or turn my back on my new faith.
Anyone else been in some kind of predicament like this? It really hurts. This is the worst time in my life. I don't know what to do...