The shift: from follower to wanting to leave

by paradisebeauty 48 Replies latest jw experiences

  • paradisebeauty

    This week has been the week when my whole way of thinking shifted. I still cannot believe how this can happen so fast. Over a period of seven days I went from not even imagining that I could ever not be a witness to wanting to get out of this organisation.

    Last Sunday when I went to the kh the thought of not being a witness did not exist in my mind (despite all the things I disapproved in this org and their doctrine).

    On Sunday evening I realized that it is very rarely that I agree with a whole study article in the publications. Usually I agree with the part where they present the biblical facts and the verses, and I disagree with most of their conclusions. And the q came, in this conditions, is it ok for me to continue being a witness? Can I stand this until the end of my life or this system? Should I continue to stand this? Is it worth it?

    The idea that this is affecting my relationship with God came to me. My relationship with Him has been affected because I have to pretend I agree with something I do not, because I ask myself if it is ok for me to understand things different than the organization and to reach different conclusions when I analyse some biblical verses.

    On Monday morning I felt like crying, while continuing to read information on jwfacts, listening to crisis of conscience, reading info on other sites (not necessarily all against jw’s, but also sites on what other christian religious believe and understand from the Bible. I was particularly impressed with a you tube video showing a meeting of a christian denomination celebrating the commemoration on 14th Nissan and all members of the congregation were taking part, no ideas I could not agree with in the sermon).

    Tuesday, I continued researching information during breaks at work and after.

    I had moments when I felt anxious and like crying and did not know exactly why – was I crying because of worry for what is expecting me, was it a feeling of liberation or was it anger for all the years when I was blind and believed them despite logic and good sense?

    In the same time in my head started to roll all the questions that came into my mind over the years and did not had the guts to put them into words or to clearly formulate them in my mind:

    • · Why do they say Christians cannot say about themselves they are the children of God, when the new testament clearly says those who accept Jesus are become children of God
    • · Why those who have earthly hope are not allowed to partake at the commemoration
    • · Why do they take the number 144 000 literarily and not the following verses that say that those people are from the tribes of Israel?
    • · What do we do with the verses that talk about the souls of people who died in the New Testament?
    • · There are several verses that talk about a new earth and the destruction of this earth, why do we only take into consideration the only verse that says the earth will last forever? (Maybe that is meant symbolic, as in God will take care that humans will always have a place / planet to live on, and it might refer to the new earth)
    • · 1914 – I see it as a speculation with no Biblical or historical support
    • · Why is baptism not made in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit? Why at baptism do you have to say that you believe that the organization is the instrument of God led by the Holy Spirit? I think that with this doctrine about the organisation they actually add the organization as a mediator between human beings and God, when the Bible states clearly that there is only one mediator and that is Jesus Christ. I also believe that with the second question they ask before baptism they make you deny / not accept that you personally need the help and the guidance of the Holy Spirit in your Christian life; it’s like you have to say that only they have the help and guidance of Holy Spirit and yourself not, which is false, all Christians have access to the help and guidance of Holy Spirit if they ask for it.
    • · About the idea that God always had an organization, if you pay attention, there has always been people who pretended to be God’s organisation, or should have been but they were not in reality. Most kings and priests from Judah and Israel did not represent God. Jehovah chose from time to time people who were cast away and even killed by the rules of the Israel nation who were pretending to represent Jehovah.

    Jesus did not only bring us liberation from sin and death but also liberation in the sense that since He came, we do not need any other mediator between God and humans, Jesus is the only mediator.

    These are probably just some of the q’s, and I did not yet reach a conclusion on what I believe on most of these issues. I will need to research to find out what is the most logical answer in the Bible.

    I know this is a long post, but I wanted to somehow get a little clarity on my new ideas and my questions, and to make a resume on how the shift I experienced this week took place.

    It is strange how nothing really special happened this week in reality (related to my experience in this org or with its members) but I had so many thoughts in my mind, everything happened in my mind, and I experienced this transformation in my thinking ….

    I was wondering how did the shift in thinking happened to you? Was it gradual, was it sudden?

    And how did you got away from the org? Did you clearly told them what you believe? Did you have a time when you continued but was convinced in your mind that the org did not preached the truth? How long did you go on after changing your ideas?

    I am thinking of what I should do next … don’t want to do anything that would make my situation too difficult …

    PS: English is not my first language, sorry if sometimes the way I express myself is complicated.

  • talesin

    Take a deep breath!

    Your mind and logic have figured it out, and that is a wonderful thing. Remembering when I left the religion .... it happened quickly for me, too. Even though I knew it was not the truth, my stomach would churn and I would feel very panicked. This is NORMAL - your world view has been destroyed, and you need time to absorb the shock to your emotions.

    You are smart to think first about what you should do. There will be lots of support and good advice here.


  • paradisebeauty

    Thank you for the support, talesin.

    It crossed my mind to just call two elders and tell them everything I believe, but I also realize I am too overwhelmed right know, I could not face very well going through discussions with them and sensing / knowing other members of cong speak behind my back that I became an apostate ... probably not just members of my cong, but all other witnesses in town.

    I live in a town where most witnesses were brought up in families of witnesses. I became a witness after big problems with my family and most witnesses in my town know my story ...

    Plus, the explanations and reasoning with friends ... too much to bear right now.

  • Phizzy

    Dear Paradisebeauty,

    it is good to hear that you are being so sensible about where you are right now, I was in a similar position when I left, emotionally it was HUGE.

    My main advice is that the best thing to do right now is.....nothing. There is no hurry at all. Simply do what you need to do to keep yourself off any JW Radar, and before you do anything at all, bounce it off us here, there are loads of people who have made the journey.

    Something to be clear about is that life simply gets better and better from now on. Yes, the transition period in any major life change is not easy, but it is so much easier when using the experience of others.

    I wish you joy and happiness in your wonderful future.

  • John Aquila
    John Aquila

    You are going to need time to regroup. Lots of time. Don't get any JWs involved at this point. When I learned TTATT it was like this:

  • freemindfade
    Be prepared to pace yourself. There is a roller coaster of ups and downs coming that come with waking up from this. You have a lot of support here, use it, ask questions before acting on certain things, and as was already said, take a deep breath and make sure you keep it together. Things will get much better for you, just be ready for strong emotions. Anger, sadness, but in the end you will be a much happier person. Continue waking up in a peaceful way, don't feel the anxiety that comes with having to make a decision, make it on your time and your way. Witnesses push the idea of choice, "if you aren't this, then you are that". Don't let it push you. You ARE in control.
  • Oubliette

    I have to pretend I agree with something I do not

    Sadly, this is what being a JW is all about: pretending.

    Their belief system is delusional. It is based on fantasy.

    Fortunately you have figured that out. Yet it is a disturbing realization, especially at first.

    is ok for me to understand things different than the organization and to reach different conclusions when I analyse some biblical verses.

    Yes, it is absolutely ok for you to use your mind!

    This isn't what the WT leadership wants, but it is the healthiest thing for you as an individual.

    Welcome to the rest of your life.

  • oppostate

    Hi Paradisebeauty,

    English isn't my first language either.

    I thought you explained the position you now find yourself in very clearly.

    I went through a similar state of mind. It was a very formative experience in my faith. I call it an epiphany, where almost scales of misbelief fell from my eyes and "the truth about the Truth" became obviously clear to see. There was a focusing on beliefs and practices of the JW religion that left me emotionally torn yet happy that I was seeing real truth, real light not any false "new light" nor the speculated truths of the WT society.

    I did a lot of research and CoC was a big help. I came to understand that no organization can lay claim to being God's representative on Earth, nor his "Channel".

    Like at no time before in my life, the parable of the wheat and the weeds made sense. It is all about our personal relationship with a higher power and a higher consciousness. I accepted Jesus words to go following his ways as best I could, and I've been trying to do so in my life. And... it is ok if we fail from time to time, because life is, after all, a chance to try and better ourselves, to come to know that we can learn from making mistakes and this results in our having empathy for others and the realization that we would be hypocrites to judge others, for we are all trying to find our way through life.

    But having faith that Jesus is "lfe" and "truth" and "light" was an epiphany for me in the truest sense and I don't expect others to understand my personal experience without having bee through something similar themselves. It was an experience, a realization, that came slowly like a healing sore, but then all of a sudden the scab fell of and the sense of relief was immense.

    In Ray Franz's writings he says that for him it was like a sense of rejoining the human race, as if being in the JW religion had sequestered him away from other human beings. I find truth in those feelings.

    Although I feel constrained by my wife's continued loyalty and servitude to the WT cult, I am by no means enslaved to it, I know I am by choice bound to her, and I do not want to lose her over the cult. Coming to finally realize this was a very difficult time for me. I cried tears of anguish for the years of wasted life I spent in this cult. But what followed, for me, were tears of joy as well. I was now free of the mental control, and the anxieties of JW life. But most of all, I felt the fear they had ingrained in me, the fear of dying, the fear of being judged at Armageddon for not having done enough in the cult--I felt it dissipate. I no longer am afraid of the "hounders", the elders of which body I was a member and was expected to do my part in "hounding" the congregation. Oppose them and they will flee, has been my experience.

    So I hope that answers some of your question about how I got away from the Org and my change over from belief to disbelief in this "false" religion.

    When I thought long and hard about what to do next, one thing did help me a lot. I listened to Ed Dunlop's experience on tape, it's available on the net, and others from that time of trouble at Bethel. Several of the victims of that witch-hunt were latinos and I found I related very emotionally to their experience and it made a big impact on my decision to stand up to the JW higher ups. I was not going to be "processed" and sifted like a defective product, the defect wasn't mine. It is the organization that has the dent in its mold. I rejected them and their hold over me and my mind.

    Although, I'm now just considered inactive, I feel I've broken away enough for comfort. Perhaps in the future I'll separate even more from this cult. But the world is full of "cults". I now see Catholicism and Islam as cultish. Hinduism, Buddhism and any other 'ism' is now just a belief system founded by men, full of men's thoughts and failures.

    Among this fog of isms, I've decided to follow the simple and worthwhile moral codes that Jesus preached: To love our neighbors as ourselves, to apologize for our shortcomings and seek forgiveness-- through our belief in something greater than ourselves. This is truth, for me, and it's become my guiding light. I take pleasure in reading the gospels with the understanding that men are fallible and not everything needs absolute accuracy in the telling, but that the precepts and the commands expressed by Jesus and his disciples in the New Testament (those so called "Greek Holy Scriptures), to have the moral decency and empathy for those less fortunate that we are is what leads me from day to day, as I try to live the rest of my life free from the mental repression and influence of the JW organization.

    So you do well to consider your own path and your own future steps. Even if you stumble from time to time it is your own experience and your own opportunities to learn from "missteps". Having joined a high control religious organization was probably a bit stumble for you like its been for many here on JWD forum network. But look at it this way, you have company, we have share experience and we can support each other as we progress in our lives. Take what is good from the counsel you receive in reading these posts, throw away what you deem unhelpful.

    Sometimes difficult situations bring out the best in a person. Don't be afraid to make mistakes, but when you make them, seek to learn from them. Painful mistakes can also be great opportunities to know yourself better and make your character even stronger and prepared for other challenges in life.

    So then forge ahead, do what you understand to be good for you and others. That's been my experience of what has worked best for me in seeking a calm spirit free from religiously forced anxiety and distress.

    I wish you peace.

  • Magnum
    I was wondering how did the shift in thinking happened to you? Was it gradual, was it sudden?

    For me it was both. I was a baptized JW for many years. Even when I was first baptized, I had unanswered questions, but most of them were about the Bible - how the flood could have occurred, what would happen to the earth when the sun expanded, etc. I thought I would eventually get answers to those questions, and I don t remember disagreeing with any teachings specific to JWdom at that time. However, gradually, as I gained knowledge and experience and matured intellectually, I began to question and even disagree with some JW teachings.

    As a new JW, I naively looked up to elders, COs, DOs, Bethelites, and GB members as if they were superhuman. However, as I progressed as a JW and matured, I began to see that they were often no more smart, capable, and knowledgeable than I was, or even less so (maybe even far less so).

    After the 1995 "generation" teaching change, I think I really began to realize that the GB (or whoever makes up JW doctrine) was just guessing. However, I still for the most part, thought that JWs had the truth. I began, though, to notice more and more how ineffective the JW ministry was and boring and wasteful meetings were. I began to notice more and more how most JW public speakers should be nowhere near the stage; they were an embarrassment. I began to notice more and more the awful writing in JW publications (bad grammar, poor flow of meaning, etc.). And regarding that last point, I began to reason: "If they can't get their own native language right, how can they claim to understand subtle nuances in Koine Greek? How can they presume to be able to translate the Bible from ancient languages into English?" I even saw grammatical errors in the English in the New World Translation.

    Around 2005/2006, I couldn't take it anymore. I felt like I was wasting my life going through the motions of JWdom. However, I still (with some doubt) thought JWs were what they claimed to be. I began to compose a long document to the organization. My goal was to be constructive and try to improve the situation. The document was very long and covered a lot of material. As I was still working on it. I began to go into the woods at night and look up at the sky and pray the most intense prayers, begging for answers. I asked very specific questions such as "Do JWs have the truth? Are JWs your chosen people?"

    I did this many times. I would love to have received some kind of obvious answer to my prayers, but I did not. However, during this time, it was like scales fell off my eyes. I began to see clearly the wrongs of JWdom – the wrong teachings, the false predictiions, the wasted lives, the hiding of the past, the ignorance, the lack of scholarship, the smugness, the self-righteousness, the hypocrisy, the deception, the stupidity, etc. That part came swiftly. I read a lot of stuff on the internet. I read parts of Crisis of Conscience which made total sense and seemed completely truthful. So, while a lot of my shift in thinking was gradual, that part was rather sudden.

    Towards the end of my being a JW, a young (about 35) elder moved into our congregation. He was a very smooth-talking, goody-goody type. Most of the JWs in my congregation thought he was wonderful. However, he nauseated me. One night at a meeting, he was sitting on the row I was on; he was on the far left of the row, and I was on the far right. There was nobody between us, so I could well see him. There was a part on the Service Meeting that included three interviews. The interviews had something to do with the ministry. There were two white females and one black male interviewed. The two females reminded me of Pentecostal snake-handlers. The male was a skinny old man (less than 100lbs) (picture a black Barney Fife, but about 80 yrs old) who was totally clueless (He didn’t know the difference between Catholics & JWs). Not one of the three was qualified for the ministry, and they almost never even participated in it. All three were known as being lazy. However, these interviews were presented as if these people were zealous, qualified, bold messengers of truth.

    I was furious. At the end of the last interview, everybody (except me) was clapping. I couldn’t help but notice the young elder in the corner of my eye. I then turned to get a good look at him. He was loudly clapping and leaning forward in his chair, and he had a holy, goody-goody look on his face. He was shaking his head in a manner that indicated that he had just heard the most inspiring, moving words.

    That did it for me; I couldn’t take it anymore. I knew a lot of it was fake. Either that elder was faking or he was clueless and deluded. After that, I just had to get away.

    So here I am now. My financial situation was messed up by being a JW for decades, so I work long hours for little pay and have little free time. I haven’t been to a meeting in over a year. I don’t know what to believe now. Possibly, in a few months, I can change my work and have more time. My goal is to spend a lot of time reading books and other material on the Bible, cosmology, evolution, history of religion, etc. in order to try to find some answers or at least make some decisions. I’m sort of in limbo now.

    It seems that some on this site say there are no answers and they say to just live life without seeking. Maybe they’re right; I don’t know. I just know myself; I’m the type that needs answers. I might never find them, but I have to try. It helps that I enjoy reading, learning, seeking.

    I know that a was a long answer; I didn’t intend for it to be such. I wish you well and hope you will stay on this site.

  • clarity

    Congratulations on your awakening!

    For me it was like waking up from a bad dream and as I researched each awful belief, I saw that none of it was true! It was just a nightmare!!!! No god trying to kill me, no armageddon waiting for us all. Those 'men' had no more right to control anyone than the man in the moon! LIFE just opened up and became wonderful with so many possibilities ......instead of the constant drudgery & meetings with only more of the same tomorrow. The only reward was to pioneer, and DO even MORE! Becoming the elders full time spy & their favorite (sucker) was the only pay off!

    Welcome to your real life, don't waste a minute of it by being afraid of any elders or old ideas. Keep quiet about things until you have a chance to adjust to NORMAL, it does take some time.

Share with others