This is my exit letter, I sent this out just this June. It took more courage than anything I've ever had to do.
As life goes on you start to realize your identity wasn't a choice. The beginning of an identity includes many factors for consideration, for example: your name, your language, your nationality and gender, your religion and values, your purpose in life. These are all factors in life we have little or no control over. My personal goal is to discover my true identity outside of these factors. I've started down a new path to finding myself, and it involves breaking away from my old identity.
A while ago, I made a positive change in my life; I turned off the news and media. All that information was irrelevant to my life and generated needless anxiety. Not long after this change my perspective of the world started evolving. Instead of corrupt systems of governments and masses of wicked people, I saw individuals. I started traveling and I saw people like you and me. I stopped seeing humanity as doomed and judged by God, but each person as unique - with love and potential. I began to realize that if we are looking for a wicked and miserable world for God to save, we will, in fact, create one for ourselves. I began replacing my dark view of the world with real memories of paradise from my experiences and travels. I started making new friends and loving my life -simply the way it was.
Being born into and expected to follow Christianity, I've made the most of this and have done my best as a Jehovah's Witness. Just under two years ago, I decided to take a sabbatical from Christianity because the fears upheld by doctrine were poisoning me. Given time to meditate on the fears that were rooted deeply in me, I turned over a new perspective. The strongest fears affecting my psychological well-being were; Jehovah, Jesus, Armageddon, The Great Tribulation, the authority of the Governing Body, the fear of being blood guilty, Satan and his demons, a fear of the world, of disfellowshipping, a fear of losing everlasting life, apostates, the fear of independence and of new ideas, and a fear of the sin living inside me. I realized that all these fears had no basis in actual reality, but in social coercion.
I was left with little energy and low self-esteem from the prison these fears created. Living with the imposed guilt, pressure and pretense wasn't working for me. I’ve concluded that I was running in circles trying to please a competitive social group that could just not be pleased. I was living in denial to save myself from concepts like death and suffering, instead of trying to understand why I needed to deny those concepts in the first place. I couldn't allow my rational mind to be swayed by a subjective interpretation of fundamental truth based on weak evidence and logical fallacy. I also didn't have the energy to tolerate a highly conditional relationship model - one that breaks apart friends and families. My life matters too much for me to keep punishing myself in blind obedience to doctrines, or to watch others struggle for approval by them.
I have begun a new spiritual journey - one that’s free from the concepts that I have been taught and conditioned in. I want to fight those old concepts with my energy and start using a new philosophy: being impeccable with my word, not taking things personally, and not making assumptions. These will be difficult to practice, but worth the hard work. I just don't want to live an exhausting life based solely on social approval or an addiction to belonging to a group or accepting a group’s beliefs.
Whether there exists an ancient realm of invisible spirit creatures that could help or harm me is quickly becoming irrelevant to who I am and what purpose and direction my life takes. I want to put away the idea of spirits and base my life on the realities that I have immediate personal power over and live in a reality that I'm sure I will be a part of. I've come to learn that life's meaning isn't a group objective; each one of us creates our own meaning based on our own personal values. What's meaningful in my life to me, might not be meaningful to you - but that's exactly the beauty of creating ones own meaning.
The problem I found with spending my life in waiting on a higher authority is that I would always be waiting on the answers that I pretended to have. Higher authority limits our actions and goals, and keeps us captive to a concept. My new goal is to live my life without having to justify my existence, and be free to be who I really am. I want to give myself permission to be happy and enjoy my life. I want to live without the fear of expressing my dreams. I want to know I can change my life the way I really want to. I want to live life without the fear of being judged by others. I don't want to be responsible for anyone's opinion.
I want to be free of the need to control anyone, and I do not want to be controlled. I want to live without the fear of loving and not being loved in return. I don't want to be afraid of being rejected, or have the need to be accepted. I want to live my life without being afraid to take risks and explore life. I don't want to be afraid of losing anything. I don't want to be afraid to be alive in the world, or afraid to die in it. I don't want to live my life waiting on a fateful punishment or a blissful reward.
I've realized that if you spend your present time looking to the future for salvation something happens -you always see the present as a means to an end, eventually an obstacle. Instead of living in the past or future, which are just thoughts, I want to make the most of what I have now - the present moment. My life goal is to find enjoyment and enthusiasm in the current moment, and share that with others.