Now versus 7 Years Ago.....

by AK - Jeff 29 Replies latest jw experiences

  • AK - Jeff
    AK - Jeff

    Well not quite. We have been out of the organization since 1-1-2004 - at least that is the way we mark it to remember. We began to read Ray's books in late fall/early winter of 2003 - a thousand pages later and a few weeks - viola - we were out to never return.

    I was contemplating just how significantly I have personally changed in that period of time - not the stages, though there have been many stages. But the raw contrast of my opinions, moral stance, and view of the world is amazing. I am not so sure I can even dig out of my mind the old me, I have certainly changed so greatly. And I do mean GREATLY! The freeing of one's mind is an amazing experience. Coming to the point where one has discovered a near total shift in viewpoint for almost every significant matter in life is boggling to the senses for me.

    I was a very strongly entrenched Jw. I lived the religion. I never played any of the games of duplicity played by others. I believed it. Now - I nearly puke when thinking of how I allowed these puny men in straight-jacket suits to bully me into accepting every opinion they printed - from their demand that I 'place' their literature from door to door with strangers to their telling me how to dress when I visited Bethel. I waited with bated breath for new releases at assemblies, couldn't contain my joy when others 'accepted the truth', and considered 'privileges' within the organization as something significant and meaningful. Like others, I put my theocratic life above everything else in life, passing up employment opportunities and education, adopting a lesser lifestyle in order to 'put the kingdom first' in my life, rejected family if they ridiculed the 'truth', and used my vacation time from work to attend district assemblies.

    The odd thing is that as I compare myself with that old personality - though there is almost no comparison these days - I find that my sense of real justice, real people, and real life is totally changed. I have left off the judging of others. But in the areas that most Jw's would demand I have changed - I have not. My values are better than they were as a Jw - really! My personal integrity is intact - and based on real value instead of value prescribed for me by the Brooklyn Physicians.

    My view of patriotism, politics, family, religion, sex, education, philosophy, career, homosexuality, and god are totally unrecognizable compared to the view I once held.

    Though all these opinions are changed, or changing as I examine them carefully, I am not deemed as EVIL by anyone but those whom I rejected. I am considered a man of integrity in my community, by those who bother at all to have an opinion about that. I have found that most don't bother to sit about judging others as we did. I am pleased to be among those people.

    I have become agnostic, perhaps leaning at times toward Deism, and at other times toward Atheism. Yet none of my true friends give one wit about that. We can have marvelous discussions from widely differing perspectives, and at the end, rise and shake hands as friends and do it again next week. I feel no need to drive them into my accepted mold - nor they to drive me into theirs. I can openly, and without moral strings, discuss matters of importance with my grandchildren, having no desire to implicate Jesus or Jehovah as rods to drive their behaviour in life.

    I can stand with tears in my eyes as I watch a parade of our veteran soldiers, and tell these men 'thank you' without shame or feeling that I have crossed some 'moral' barrier in appreciating that, unfortunate as war is, we have brave men willing to fight and die so that my freedom of speech, religion, and press remains intact in this nation.

    There is far too much to state in casual observation about how things have changed for me. Life is good. Freedom to think is a gift beyond monetary numeration. Freedom to really grow as a human being is remarkable.

    I will likely never set foot inside a Kingdom Hall again, with the notable exception of the passing of my mother in law when that happens. I will be no more likely to visit many churches either - but rejoice in the freedom accorded me should I change my mind. The bible is a dusty book in our home these days, and will probably remain such. My days of devotion to the horrible god of that book is over, but I reserve the right to revisit that opinion - or any of those so expresses in this little ramble of mine - and to change my direction 180 degrees again should I choose.

    Ain't Freedom Great?

    Peace/Namaste to all those who have entered upon similar journeys of discover in life. Some of you will this day find great moments of discovery, and will begin the process of leaving the organization that you viewed as Mother all your lives. Others, like myself, have already progressed down a pathway to points you never believed you would attain in that journey. Many others are somewhere along the trail of discovery, wondering where it will lead eventually. Still others have long ago left any traces of the religious misdirections of Jehovah's witnesses.

    That is the key word to me - eventually! Eventually should never happen to us again! Our eventually should be forever changing as we learn/discover about ourselves and our world. The stagnate smell of water that does not flow should not enter our nostrils - we will move, swiftly at times, and more slowly at others, toward a destination that keeps shifting, changing. The boundaries are of our making - not made by others. The knowledge is at our hands - absorb as much or as little as suits us. Live, Laugh, Love, as if each moment could be our Last - but knowing that we escaped the tyranny of lies and foolish bondage is reward enough that we no longer worry about that last moment, as long as we take, in the present, advantage of the one we have right now.



  • Mad Sweeney
    Mad Sweeney

    I hear you, and feel you, Jeff!

  • Soldier77

    I hope one day to be in a similar situation looking back on the changes I've made. Thank you for the inspiration and hope.

  • sabastious

    My therapist told me a quote that will always stick with me:

    "There is always something in your existence which you don't know, and the knowing of which would change your life."



  • isaacaustin

    AK_Jeff, you and I do differ in beliefs (me being a Christian)...but thank you very much for sharing that post. I enjoyed reading every word of it. I am also very happy for your journey has taken you wherever it may. I wish you nothing but the best in life.

    Here's to freedom!

  • Hadit

    I'm so happy for you! Thank you for sharing. Freedom and choice are wonderful things. Gives me hope that I'll get there someday.

  • tec

    I also thank you for sharing. I enjoyed reading about your journey... thus far :)


  • cyberjesus

    thank you for writing this. it helps us a lot to serer the ones who have survived and are at the stage of recovery that you are. a today in your honor

  • WTWizard

    I can remember my standards when I became a witless. Back then, it was much more complicated--and they tell people to simplify their lives.

    In those days, there was a rule for everything. Sex was off limits unless you were married, and it had to be another witless. They didn't really look favorably on unorthodox sexual practices, either. Homosexuals were viewed as wicked. Quite a few good songs were off limits because they had sexual innuendos. My music collection was very boring because of this. Movies were also viewed as bad, mostly because of sexual innuendos or isolated incidences of violence.

    Back then, many other things were condemned. Saluting the flag, trying to improve one's own country, and playing the lottery were all viewed as wicked. I had zero tolerance for Christmas anything, and was distressed when the Christmas decorations came out for sale and when they started playing Christmas music. I also thought that belief in any other religion, whether Christian or not, was vile. I would be uncomfortable even passing in front of a church. Smoking was viewed, not as the nuisance and health risk that it actually is, but as an act of worship to demons (blowing sacrificial smoke to demons). There were so many common decorative elements that were pagan, whether real or made up, in origin.

    As for what we were supposed to do, I believed that missing a boasting session or a valid opportunity to do field circus was like missing out on life itself. I would judge myself on how many hours I did in field circus out of how many I could reasonably and sustainably do, and usually got in something like 85% of what I felt was sustainable. I also felt bad when no one showed up for field circus or when a boasting session got cancelled for snow. Or, when one of the rags I subscribed to was late--I thought some apostate was pitching them instead of delivering them (which would get them in trouble--they are supposed to deliver the mail, regardless of whether they believe in it or not, unless it contains a bomb or something known to be a physical hazard and is intended to harm its recipient). And, I would go through any new books and brochures at the Grand Boasting Session in which they were released. Anyone that didn't was not spiritually good enough.

    These days, it is much different. There is just one test: Does a volitional act amount to initiating force, threats of force, or fraud against another person or their property? If not, it can't very well be viewed as wicked. Acts that are bad for self or society, but that do not constitute initiatory force, threats of force, or fraud, may be stupid--but hardly wicked. The books I got from the "secret society" are pretty explicit: Unless something is explicitly forbidden, it is permitted. And, only things that are actually initiatory force, threats of force, or fraud are explicitly forbidden. This leaves a very wide area for personal preferences and conscience matters that are not going to be enforced.

    What this means is, if I enjoy something and I am not infringing on people's rights, there is nothing wrong with it. I can listen to whatever music I feel like (of course, listening to Kingdumb maladies is stupid because they are worthless). If I feel like displaying a religious symbol, even one of a religion I do not believe in, so be it. Christmas is something to enjoy, not dread--even something to help others to participate in to the extent possible. Things like using drugs, stupid as it may be, is not prohibited--or wicked (drugs do ruin your health, but it's your brain and your liver).

    I also liked the attitude the "secret society" has toward sex, gambling, and materialism. Sex is not to be dirtified. Fornication is not only permitted but is viewed as "test driving" a potential marriage partner (and even promiscuous sex is tolerated and accepted without issues, aside from looking at the natural consequences). Adultery is not automatically viewed as wicked--lying about it is what is evil (initiatory fraud). The "taboos" against incest, homosexuality, and bestiality are gone. As for gambling, sensibility is encouraged. You can play whatever you want, with a view toward having fun or winning money if skill is involved. And materialism, so long as the money is earned by creating value instead of usurping it, is actually a good thing. You don't have a bunch of complicated rules to remember and live by.

    Definitely, having a more permissive view on common things has "simplified" my life a great deal. Not only I don't have to worry about wasting my time on boasting sessions and field circus, but I don't have to worry about whether an act fits the washtowel doctrine or trying to make it fit.

  • Sherilynn

    Jeff, Thank you for such a beautifully expressed history, so much similar to my own. The fall of 2004 was the beginning of my leaving and truly finding a loving world of people who deserve to live their lives freely without being condemned to death by an organization that brain washes people with a unscriptual hope just to keep the publishing machine going. It amazes me that it really is about being captive of a concept and I have yet to read that book. Ray Franz's books were my first and I have given them to others on their way out or being out but still holding guilt by the mindset of the Watchtower.

    I am amazed and embarrassed when I look back at the arrogance of what Truth I thought I held and taught to others and so embrassed as I study scripture and realize how we were indoctrinated with such a Twisted Truth. My family members, especially my husband are so thankful to have me back and open to loving all mankind. I never really thought I was a judgmental person and felt for a JW I was fairly open to people living their lives, but now looking back I know I really wasnt. Since leaving I have such a great affection for people and non judgmental to what each person's choice is for their life, I truly feel the love and dont just read about it in a Watchtower magazine that it is the JW's identifying mark, nothing really could be further from the truth.

    I am still studying about religions, scriptures and the bible, but I dont feel the bible is just the only source of inspiration from a higher source. I will never join an organized religion, although I have from time to time gone to different churches, however for me it is not something I need to do and enjoy the freedom of doing my research on spirituality. I do feel a certain sadness for those I did truly care about still being captives and hope that the most recent generation change will touch them to go ahead and get answers for the questions they have had but were waiting on Jehovah. I spent 20 years as a JW and I will not look back at it with thoughts of loss years, as I believe we all travel the road we are on for a purpose and in the long.

    I encourage all of those on this site that are thinking of leaving but are afraid to, please really listen to your inner self and know that yes there may be some difficulties with family members, I also have seen/experienced that one leaving often will move others to open up to their own doubts and exit as well. But what is so important is that the joy you will feel inside once you are on the outside, giving yourself time to be released from the mental chains of guilt and judgment.

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