First, and most important: thanks to all those who read my introduction-post last Saturday, and especial thanks to those who replied. Like many who have been disfellowshipped (and especially those raised in the Org) I've been dragged through icy waves of agonizing hurt and anger; often followed by times of peace and letting go; only to be hit by another turbulent and bitter bout of animosity and grief. The tides do run deep, don't they. Often I ponder, trying to figure it all out; and have noticed an interesting phenomena regarding the Witnesses. It seems that many dedicated Jehovah's Witnesses abandon -- what may be -- a hard wired and fundamentally instinctive urge. This often manifests and becomes apparent during family disfellowshipping situations. Normally, we find people protecting and placing their families lives and well-being over their own . However, in many disfellowshipping situations we find parents that abandon, shun and ignore the lives of their own children and grandchildren. Or children, that snub and neglect the lives of their own parents and siblings. (My heart goes out to all you who know way too well of what I am speaking). It seems that this forsaking of instinctive impulses -- of family over self -- is motivated by, or is a result of severe self-centeredness; a deep and wide rift from the rest of humanity; a cutting off of what -- I feel -- are our deeper and truer spiritual aspects or existence. Often we hear of people in "the world" sacrificing their life for friends, family and strangers, without giving it a thought (instinctively). I feel that this is just the natural way of things. It's something fundamental within us all. Yet, out of fear and concern for their own hides, many (not all) Jehovah's Witnesses do just the opposite. Disregard the lives of their friends and family -- that they may protect and save their own life -- (in their minds) from death at Armageddon. Is this spooky or what? I don't even want to get into how UN-Christian it seems; because it doesn't even seem human. Why does this happen? I feel that the root of the problems stem from the an extreme, unshaking and unquestioned belief in a vengeful God/Creator, that will destroy you if you do not comply with It's "will"; and will reward you if you do. Anything dealing in punishments and rewards, breeds fear and greed -- the two things most destructive of spirituality and love. For me, a life of brokenheartedness, confusion and sadness festered from being poisoned from a very young and innocent age. Being force fed -- by well meaning parents -- an understanding and belief in a God that would certainly kill me if I did not love Him..... THE ULTIMATE CATCH-22!!! No matter how hard we may try. No way! No how! Is it possible to TRULY LOVE something that threatens you with death and destruction if you don't! And when that is your Creator and Source...YOUR TOTALLY SCREWED! The only way to continue (without waking up) is to stick your head deeeeep in the sand. Stay in your mind and out of your heart, and die spiritually. There is a syndrome of which I know not the name, where people who have been over-powered, kidnapped, confined and threatened with death begin to identify with and even "love" their captors and tormentors. This is not genuine love of course; not even a little. It's self-preservational insanity brought on by intense fear. Seem familiar? Have we been held spiritually hostage by religion? Afraid of enjoying life and embracing our fellow human beings without looking over our shoulder to see if "God" is offended? An anthropomorphic deity
Interesting phenomena regarding Witnesses
As usual, you post a very thought provoking thread. When I finally made the "mental" decision that I did not wish to practice the JW concepts, I still went along with the "program". I was so unsure and unsteady with my own "self", that I was terribly afraid. I wanted acceptance from this group of people that I'd based the foundation of my life on, and I was insecure and emotionally disraught.
Then, after ten years of keeping my head stuck in the sand , I pulled myself out and said to myself, "is this any way to live?" If I'm gonna die for not believing these doctrines in my heart, then I'm certainly going to die for "living a lie", and pretending outwardly to fit in. That's when I simply said to myself, "what's the worst thing that can happen?....and I thought to myself, "to die". I realized suddenly who it was that I was really making this sacrifice for. Man. I wasn't living a lie for god, because he knew I was living a lie. Who was I fooling? Duh. And, just maybe the "truth" was a lie, and I was making a good choice.
So, I counted the cost of losing friends and family (very high), but decided to simply step off that merry-go-round, and low and behold, I didn't fall flat on my face. It felt great. It felt right. Of course, I still had to rid myself of the power they held over me, and get rid of some of the perceptions about life in general that I'd carried since youth; but, I was free and it felt so good. I didn't think to myself: "oh, now I'm free and I can just do anything I want. Or, that I was going to die at Armageddon, so I might as well just go off and sin a whole bunch, just to experience life to the full. Nope, I just continued to be the person I'd always been, except now I would live by my own conscience, and not by a set of rigid rules and regulations.
One thing I "thought" I had lost forever though, was my connection to god. I felt like I couldn't pray, and I didn't know who to pray to. I was spiritually lost, which left a very empty spot in my heart. In that way, I knew I had to make some changes in my life. For me, it took a very long time. This is because I didn't have the tools or support I needed, and was very much alone. Also, I tried to control things, instead of letting go.
Now, later in life, I'm finally free of the borg connection. There are no "tiny roots" whatsoever inside my mind and heart. I've been able to purge myself of all that doom and gloom. And, I've found my spirituallity again, some twenty years later. I did not find it within religion. I found it within my own self.
For all those who still feel lost and abandoned, learn to trust in yourself. Get strong. Ask for help. Don't just exist. Learn to live. Life is beautiful, ...and it's the journey of a lifetime.
Thank you for a very well-thought-out post. I too was a victim of a congregation "action", based on a prejudicial ruling against me. My status is "disfellowshipped", and I was raised in the organization. My parents have totally cut me off, as well as my disassociated sister. They have no idea the kind of *stuff* I was subjected to by the elders, all they know is that someone said "your son is Disfellowshipped", and that settled the issue for them. They automatically and cruelly cut me off, with no input whatever from my side.
It may be like you say, they fear a cruel deity. I think each individual JW has a choice as to how they react to the organization's edicts, especially in regards to treatment of others -- ESPECIALLY the family for God's sakes.
This disfellowshipping arrangement is a direct attack on a VALID institution, the family, by an INVALID institution, the WT Society, which as you know is a major publishing company posing as a religion and dominating their member's lives.
Truly "man dominating man, to their INJURY" as Solomon wrote. This man-made religion the JW's has so much to answer for. This cruel breaking up of families is the tip of a very large iceberg.
Thanks again for your post and welcome to the forum!!
Jeff (aka Gopher)
You'll find many of us here want nothing to do with the "God" we grew up with as JWs.
What kind of "god" smites innocent children because his parents were never reached with "the Good News of the Kingdom TM "?
What kind of "god" allows pedophiles to thrive in an organization that claims to be "clean" while at the same time casting out the victims of the very same pedophiles for daring to speak out and "bring reproach" on "god's name"? Is not the REAL reproach the act of child molestation, rather than seeking justice against those who commit it?
What kind of "god" measures a person's worth by numbers on a monthly report sheet, rather than on whether you're a good person, and do things to help other people in tangible ways?
What kind of "god" would rather see your extra money go to the "Worldwide Preaching Work" instead of putting new shoes on your children's feet?
If that's the kind of "god" the JWs have to offer, then I'm afraid I'd rather not believe in god at all.
Compelling, well thought out, and clearly stated. Good post, put into print something that I think a great number of people think but haven't been able to articulate. Thank you.
And for the record, it's "Stockholm Syndrome" that is characterized by a captive who identifies with and defends their captor.
It seems that this forsaking of instinctive impulses -- of family over self -- is motivated by, or is a result of severe self-centeredness; a deep and wide rift from the rest of humanity; a cutting off of what -- I feel -- are our deeper and truer spiritual aspects or existence
I have thought on this matter a great deal myself, however I have come to a different conclusion... let me know what you think about it...
Most people, excluding those such as sociopaths, are born with an instinct to do "good". The problem is that "good" is not defined for us when we are born. We desire to do good, but we are not always sure what good is.
Religion comes along and promises to take upon itself the burden of deciding what is good. A person who joins an organized religion no longer has to worry about this and feel liberated and free. This person now has a "clean conscience" because he knows that so long as he follows what the religion tells him to do, he is doing "good".
What has happened with us and our families is that a religion has come along that told our families that being part of the Jehovah's Witnesses religion is "good" and not being a part of it is "bad". The religion has also told our families that shunning a family member who is not a JW in good standing is "good" (Discipline That Can Yield Peaceable Fruit).
So, in an attempt to do "good" our families are shunning us. They are also angry with us because they perceive us as doing "bad".
What you are all describing here is a Cult. There are a number of good books out there that will help you recognize what a cult is and how to get away from their mind control. You are right a God of love would not make you feel guilty but would want you to worship him/her out of love. I have found after my experience with the Jdubs I have also doubts as to Gods existence. No one can tell me that there is a loving God that allows all the pain and suffering of innocent children. A God that would take joy in the murder and suffering of innocent human life. That is not my idea of a loving God.
Is it possible to TRULY LOVE something that threatens you with death and destruction if you don't!
I always had sneaking thoughts like that. They would come back every so often when I thought I was in "spiritually weak" period. I knew there was no answer so I just kept busy doing all the jobs and stifled the thoughts - until they got too much and the penny finally dropped , that it was just not true.
Everything has been clear since then.
The trouble with witnesses is that they are so very sure that they have "The truth", they just cannot even consider any view other than that which they read in the Watchtower. It just does not get through .
It may not always be the case that I can respond and thank you all individually for your replies, but the time and opportunity is here now. Sentinel, Oh how I can identify with your sense of losing God. When I was first disfellowshipped that's what hurt the most too. Not that losing friends and family didn't matter, it's just that losing God was a wounding to the core. And like you my direction of attention has now turned within my heart rather than religion. Thank you for your comments. Jeff,
Your post really made it clear that the "breaking up of families" is just the "tip of a very large iceberg". It is that tip or point that wounds the deepest though, don't you think? Thank you for responding. Scully, All I can say is I agree totally. Make that 100%. Thanks for your comments. Sara,
"Stockholm Syndrome". I was hopping someone would know. Thank you for that, and your warm comments. Elsewhere, Thank you, for your thoughtful reply, but are our conclusion so very different? What you say is indeed the way a Witness would look at it. I am just saying that the punishment for doing "bad" or not doing "good" -- in a JW's eyes -- is death; and that the fear of eternal death -- from a god more than happy to smite your ass -- is the key motivator. I feel we agree. William, Not sure if this would jive with the definition of a "cult", but I feel that any teaching that takes us away from being present and attentive to our fellow human-beings by placing our attention on some future reward or punishment, is bastardizing the entire sense of being human. Like you, these are not my idea's of a loving God either. No matter how hard I tried, or how many knots I tied my mind in, my heart said this can not be true. It was a painful experience for me being a Witness. Had I not had the intense programming from childhood, I don't think I ever would have chosen it. But who can say for sure. Blues, Like you when my heart was aching and breaking at the thoughts of a murdering God, I blamed myself. Feeling something must have been wrong with me. Thankfully the penny dropped for you. perhaps those like yourself who are most sensitive finally get to a place where the pain is too much to bare and the penny drops. I have hopes that certain beloved members of my family who are still sand-dwellers, may one day hurt enough too. Thank you for your reply.
I am bringing this bttt because this is exactly what I was just trying to explain to my reinstating husband. I think it is extremely pertinent to bring up again, especially in light of the Elizabeth Smart movie that was just aired last week. I agree with JT's commentary on this "phenomena" that I myself have been watching, and want absolutely no part of. I know that there are several different religions of the world that practice various forms of this phenomena, but few to the extreme of the WTBTS. How can we "Love one another as I have loved you" in shunning family or the people we are supposed to love AS ourselves? Do we shun ourselves? I hate it that they use the terminology of "Tough Love" in regards to this behavior! This has got to be the FARTHEST thing from Christian love I have ever (pun intended) witnessed....