Hi Everyone. I'm a long time lurker, first time poster. I think I have a similar story to others who were brought up in the so called "truth" but after reading so many stories I thought I'd finally get around to writing mine:
Like I said, I was raised into it and almost my entire immediate family where (and for the most part still are) serious members. I guess you could say my family was one of the more “prominent” JW families in the area. My grandfather and uncle were both elders (different congregations) and almost every female member was some sort of pioneer. My grandmother was a full time pioneer since the 60’s! So needless to say, growing up there was little doubt about what I would do with my life. I gave my first public talk around the age of 9 or 10 and I was baptized when I was 15 or 16. That whole baptism thing was entirely against my will by the way. I can remember it like it was yesterday. The congregation I was in had a lot of teenagers around the same age, and one year almost all of them were baptized at the same convention. A few weeks after that particular convention, the next thing I know my grandmother is telling everyone that at the next convention I would be dedicating my life to Jehovah. Needless to say that was quite a surprise for me. I knew I couldn’t say no so I just went through with it.
Just for a little background, I didn’t know it was called atheism at the time but I never believed in god, even when I was a little kid. I remember hearing the Garden of Eden story for the first time (I must have been between 5 and 7 years old) and I thought the whole story was crap. There were so many things I had questions about that no one could answer. Like: Why did Jehovah make a tree that he didn’t want anyone to eat from? If you don’t want anyone to use it why bother to make it? If the tree was supposed to give them “the knowledge of good and bad” then obviously before eating from it they had no idea that what they were doing was actually bad, so why punish them? If Jehovah is all knowing, didn’t he know that would happen? So I had my doubts from the beginning, but when you’re barely in elementary school, really what can you do?
Ok, so now I’ve been baptized a few years and I’m being told that the elders really want to start using me more but that idea didn’t really sit well with me. At this time I’m in high school and as others can surely relate to this, life in school as a JW is absolutely horrible! By the time I started 11 th grade I had no doubt in my mind I wanted out, but how? You’ll never guess where I found my answer: The answer to all of my problems (all of my JW problems at least) were in a talk given by the visiting Circuit Overseer!!
I don’t remember his name, but he gave a talk during a visit that absolutely changed my life! During the talk the Circuit Overseer told a story. I have no idea if this was a true story or if it was just an allegory to make a point but it really struck a chord with me. The story was about a JW youth who was raised in “the truth” from birth. The story goes from this youth saying simple comments at the meetings when they’re 3 or 4 years old, to giving their first public talk, to getting baptized, to working the microphones, etc. Suddenly, this youth reaches their 18 th birthday. Guess what they did? On the day they turned 18 this person takes a box, and in this box they proceed to put into it their bible and every other Watchtower publication they owned. The youth then presents this box to their parents and says: “For 18 years I did everything you wanted me to do. Now I’m going to do what I want to do.” I swear, when the Circuit Overseer said that part you were able to hear the gasps from the people in my hall. People were shocked and appalled that someone raised in the truth would do something like that, but I had a completely different reaction. If that had been a cartoon you would have seen a light bulb appear over my head. I was like, “That’s it! I just have to put up with this garbage until I’m 18 and then I’m done!” And that’s exactly what happened. I think the last meeting I went to was sometime in 1988-89.
My family is still in but I think I'm luck in that they don't say a word to me about going to back. I think that has to do with the fact that all of those teenagers I mentioned earlier that had been baptised before me all ended up having crappy lives. Jail, bad marriges, depression, etc. Meanwhile, I've been gone for over 20 years and haven't any of those problems. Anyway, that's my story. Thanks for giving me a place to tell it.