My Biography (shamelessly long)...

by truthseekers2 22 Replies latest jw friends

  • truthseekers2

    I'm embarressed to no end on how long this ended up being, but I felt it all too important to leave anything out (and yes, I did delete some! {blush} ). Bless your heart if you make it through the entire thing!...

    My name is Shauna. I was born in 1968 and was raised as one of Jehovahs Witnesses. My four children were 4 th generation Witnesses on both sides. My husband, children (only one is baptized; she is 15) and I all quit attending meetings and going in the field ministry cold-turkey in November 2002. This is my story:

    When I was 16 years old, I decided I no longer wanted to be a Witness. My parents had always been weak, I saw so much hypocrisy and fear among Witness friends, and my worldly friends at school seemed to have so many things going for them. I was having doubts about the existence of God, the Bible as His inspired written word, and many other issues. I was sacrificing so much of my life, and for what? My parents saw the direction I was heading and contacted an elder at our Kingdom Hall. His wife began to study with me.

    I hated the study so much at first, but the further we got in the Live Forever book, the more I began to enjoy it. I have always been a history buff and I remember that it was when we got to chapter 5 (Is the Bible Really From God) that I began to feel that maybe there was a God and that the Bible really was his written word. It was chapter 16 that convinced me at the time that the Witnesses had the Truth (God's Government Begins Its Rule). That chapter is about how God's earthly kingdom fell in 607 B.C.E. and that we could use the Bible to pinpoint that Jesus began to rule in heaven over Jehovah's new government in 1914. I was amazed at the interpretation of "seven times." By the time chapter 18 drove home the point that the generation that was living in 1914 would by no means pass away until Armageddon arrived, I knew I had to stick with Jehovah's earthly organization in order to survive into His promised new world. I decided to dedicate my life to Jehovah by water baptism.

    At this time, I was writing a wonderful brother from a congregation that was about an hour away. He had grown up a Witness like me. His father had been the Presiding Overseer for his congregation since he was small and his mother had pioneered since he was 3. He was 2 and years older than me and I was so infatuated with his wonderful qualities. I was especially happy to know that he wanted to have a family and serve Jehovah. We went out on our first date the day of my baptism in November of 85 and were engaged the next month. (Wed been writing almost a year.)

    After marrying the following spring and moving to my new congregation, many things happened to shake my faith. The problems that existed in the new congregation were far worse than any Id ever experienced before. If I thought there was lack of love and hypocrisy elsewhere, wow. It existed deeply there. It bothered my conscience terribly and I became very depressed. A long-standing elder was disfellowshipped for molesting his children while they grew up. There was bickering over positions and appointments. One servant went storming out of the meeting, slamming the door when a brother in my husbands family was appointed as an elder and he wasnt. For a period of 16 years while attending there, I witnessed molestations, homosexuality, drunkeness, alcoholism, extra-marital affairs, premarital sex, babies born out of wedlock, drug abuse, jail terms, prison terms, arrests, divorces, and so much more. What is bad was that these things were not occasional occurrences, but they were continual. I felt as if I was in the midst of the very Sodom and Gomorrah described in the Bible that we would gasp over and shake our heads in condemnation about when we studied them! What was really awful is the constant divisions, cliques, and bickering. Absolutely no love or brotherly affection. None!

    While I was trying to adjust to all of this, I was also trying to adjust to being newly married at 17. I became pregnant and lost our first baby. We had our daughter when I was 19. During all of this, I was dealing not only with terrible matters in our congregation, but also with major issues in my own Witness family. Id grown up with a tremendous amount of abuse, and it did not end when I left home. Sadly, while I was pregnant with my daughter, one of my Witness family members had an affair. This family member was never disciplined. It was all swept under the rug quietly while I was silently screaming. I was told to not make a sound. What is crazy is that I was the one blamed for it happening. I was also shunned by my family and the people that had studied with me.

    I wanted desperately to leave the Witnesses again. All I saw before me was nothing like what the Bible says Jehovah's TRUE congregation would be like. My husband kept lovingly trying to convince me that it was the imperfections of others that left me feeling that way, and not a lack of having Jehovah's precious truths. I swore to him then that I would try hard to overlook the problems that existed, but the very day the Witnesses changed the information on their interpretation of "this generation will by no means pass away until all these things occur", I was done. I told him that if they did that, they would just be trying to buy more time because they saw the end was not coming.

    The problems among my Witness family and among the congregation continued...growing worse in fact. I would be left asking Jehovah, "Where is the love you promised?!" I tried hard to continue to plug along. I had another baby at 21 and another at 25. I became paranoid, clinically depressed, developed a severe panic disorder, was eventually diagnosed with agoraphobia. I have taken all kinds of antidepressants and tranquilizers. Besides the numerous mental/emotional problems, I was also diagnosed with numerous health problems which made being a Witness so difficult at times. No matter how much I would bury myself in Bible reading, study, prayer and service, the doubts in the Organization continued.

    I am a deep studier and researcher. I kept finding so many inconsistencies in what we were being taught as Witnesses. I would share my findings with my husband, but he says that he was so afraid of displeasing his family, who were such pillars in the Organization, that he couldn't dwell on those doubts. He was having them all on his own and it was easier just not to talk about them. He didn't know what else to do! I began having a horrible time going in the ministry. Why would I want to try to get people to come to the Kingdom Hall, especially since I should be telling them it is a place of love and refreshment, when it was actually my hell on earth?

    Then, it happened. The new light surfaced. We weren't understanding the word "generation" correctly. I was going through a hard time when the new information was brought out. I was not reading and studying at the time and I missed the meeting when it was covered. Allen first heard it there at that meeting and was afraid to come home and share it with me. He knew what it meant for me. It was actually weeks later during one of our long drives in the countryside that he finally talked with me about it. He had been talking with his dad in the meantime because he learned that an elder our age in the congregation was also struggling to accept the change. It was a belief that had shaped our entire belief system growing up! It helped my husband to know it wasnt only me that struggled with it, but also an elder as well.

    As my husband knew, I was done. In my heart, I no longer believed what the Witnesses taught regarding them being the only ones with Jehovahs directionthe only ones promised salvation. The Witnesses had the truth no more than any other religion. I knew it clear to my very bone. Yes, they have many good teachings, principles, etc...but so do many other faiths. After much prayer and discussion, Allen and I came to an agreement. He could not give up what he was raised with and begged me not to plant doubts in our children. Allen felt toward the Society as did Simon Peter felt toward Jesus when he said, "You have sayings of everlasting life; and we have believed and come to know that you are the Holy One of God...whom shall we go away to?" I understood and sympathized with him. I said that I would serve alongside him the best I could and would raise our children in the Truth because we didn't know any other way. That began another new hell on earth for me. No one should ever have to live a lie like that.

    My husband buried himself in the congregation. He was a book study conductor, conducted the 2 nd school, traveled to give talks, made the talk schedules, handled the stage and sound coordination, gave at least one or two talks every Thursday, read Watchtower regularly and was chairman. Add to that study, preparation, field service, and so much more. He felt if he did all this and blocked out all the things that were pulling at his conscience, he could continue and not cause heartache for anyone outside of our household. As he gained more responsibility and became more aware of the problems that existed in the congregation, the more difficult it became for him. He began to share his frustrations with me. He said he would stand up on the platform to give a talk and think to himself, Why are these people even here? knowing their attitudes and their lives. I had to block out the people and focus on the meeting when I could muster up the energy to go. But even then, I kept having all the inconsistencies in the teachings come up! I was going crazy! I was so lonely. I had no friends and my husband was so busy with congregation matters. I stayed home alone almost 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year with our four children. (Our fourth was born when I was 31.)

    Last spring (2002) on the way to an auction my husband finally said we had to move. He could not see ourselves continuing like we were. I agreed wholeheartedly! Our children were suffering, we were suffering, and it just had to end. There was no finding happiness where we were. That is when we put everything in motion to move away.

    We were blessed very quickly with our efforts to move out of state, 8+ hours away. We had always dreamed of living in the mountains, and we thought Asheville NC was a paradise after visiting numerous times. My husband was hired on his second phone call and was offered about double his income. We truly felt Jehovahs direction and blessing! Our agreement with one another was to try hard to start over here. To put all our doubts aside and give the Truth our best shot. We promised one another to immerse ourselves in study, prayer, meetings, service, making new friends in the congregation, and we did just that. We jumped in feet first and started doing everything we were "supposed to the very week we moved here. Most of the friends here are very nice. They have been truly concerned about us since missing meetings and have called, stopped by, wrote. The congregation here is not what caused us to begin our research. Its that the doubts would not be silent. They continued to pull at our consciences and they wouldnt be silenced until given our full attention. We began to doing some very deep research regarding the Society's history, the development of the Jehovahs Witness beliefs, etc. We have found things we never realized, and had we years ago, we would have not continued on the path we were on before now.

    We now realize that Jehovah's Witnesses are an off-shoot of the Adventist religion with about 12 different sects stemming from Russell today, including (besides the JWs) the original Bible Students who are still active. There are still brothers leaving to this day and forming new sects, just like other religions. (But we were told that is a sign that other religions belong to Satans world!)

    One of the things we learned that made us stop and say Hmmm was the teaching that there would be a resurrection of ancient prophets to the earth in 1925 and that the Society built two mansions in California to house them in (Beth Sarim & Beth Shan). It was such a huge deal to the brothers and sisters. They were looking so forward to welcoming back those earthly princes. At the convention where the name Jehovahs Witnesses was adopted, there was a handout giving all the details of Beth Sarim. It was the talk of the convention. Why do we never hear about that piece of history? My husband felt very silly because he has always been so out-spoken against other religions who have claimed such crazy things as this (Mormons in particular).

    We have also learned that there have been so many teachings that go back and forth from new light, to old light, to new light again. Many issues, such as organ transplants, blood transfusions, etc, are a matter of life and death. If someone followed the information one year and died, the new info the next year could have meant saving of their life. We know Jehovah would not do that. He is capable of giving His Truths and not leading His people on a wild goose chase. He lets His yes mean yes, His no mean no. Why would God allow his chosen servants to publish information that needs to be revised each year?

    We also went back to see the history of the teachings regarding the end of this system of things. It has been dated and promised again and again many times over with nothing happening. Once, 75% left the Organization, and another time 25% left.

    After our research in the publications, we began to turn to news sources. In some countries, brothers are losing their lives because they are not voting, but then in another country the brothers are advocating bribing officials to gain voting cards that makes them look like they voted even though they didn't. We learned from the publications that now, even here in the U.S., voting is considered a conscience matter. This is new light received recently and could have saved many brothers from serving long, hard jail terms and even others from losing their lives.

    One of the things that shocked us most was when we learned the Society had recently joined as a member of the United Nations. The very earthly organization we have been taught has dealings with the Wild Beast. What was so interesting to us as well, is that there are many brothers leaving over inconsistancies such as this, including many that are in the higher-ranks among the Organization.

    Another issue that is saturating the news is the cover-up of molestation...very similar to what the Catholic church has been facing. Weve been so critical of the Catholic church, but actually what has gone on in the Witness congregations is not any different. Because these molesters have not been reported to the proper officials, many children have continued or have become their victims. Members of congregations are left unaware that molesters are in their midst, even leaving their children in vehicles with them while they go to doors on calls and Bible studies! This very thing has happened in the congregation we were attending!

    I could go on and on. There are just so many things and I cant begin to scratch the surface considering all the research we have put in over the past several months. We have been reading the minute we have a spare moment, and some nights weve dug until the next morning! We have dug and dug down to the very letter everything we possibly can. Neither my husband nor I had ever gone back and put it all together like this. The very things we have been critical of other religions about (Catholics, Mormons, etc.), we are finding the same issues exist in the very religion we have been involved with! We feel betrayed, deceived, saddened, sickened, shocked, angry, desperate. Desperate because we know we are going to lose our loved ones over leaving, but we cannot be a part of this! We feel like we are leaving everyone we know and love behind us to continue to exist in a cult (yes, a cultweve read and studied the definition) that they would actually die for. What scares us most of all is that we almost raised our children in it! We are just so thankful that we have seen it for what it is and that we are making our escape from it.

    Our oldest child is baptized. We have always given her what we thought were scriptural, Bible truths that were given to us from the Jehovahs earthly organization. She made her decision to become a baptized Jehovah's Witness based on what we and they had taught her. We have felt it crucial to share with our children everything we have been learning over the past several months. Showing them and backing things up with the Organization's literature, the news articles, etc. (Everything we've read, including quotes, we always turn to the Watchtower CD and our library to check and recheck to make sure everything is accurate. We have not found one inconsistency in all our research!) Based on everything we have shared with them, they see it just as their Daddy and I do. They KNOW we are not doing this because we desire things of the world, to be wicked people, etc. They know their Daddy and I have a deep love for truth and righteousness. They hug us everyday and exclaim that they are so happy we have researched and learned what we have. They feel just as deceived as we do. From the beginning, we told them, "This is your decision." But the more we found out, the more we realized we could not give them the support to belong to this. How can you enable your child to belong to a cult? We cant! It's not been an issue, thankfully, since they have no desire to belong anymore.

    One of the things that has disgusted Allen and I so badly through the years is the talk that goes on regarding my family members that have left the truth. The behavior of different ones at my Pappaw's funeral toward certain family members was repulsive. We were ashamed. What should have been a time to talk about my Pappaw and remember him with happy thoughts turned into a time to be gabbing about "the apostates" and what audacity they had to do this or that...and who of the Witness family hugged my disfellowshipped sister and who didn't. We have contacted my family members over the past week or two who are not Witnesses and apologized for seeming to be a part of all of that. We now have peace of mind and a clean conscience. We have found out that my aunt and uncle have actually been assisting many to leave the Organization over the years. We had no contact with them during our research period and before we made the decision we have come to make. A family member stated in an email to me, "All the things that they have to offer are negative and they are not designed to build up." We have not experienced that at all. We have been embraced with love and forgiveness. For that we are thankful. We also have looked up the true definition of what an apostate is. It is someone who abandons GOD. My family who left the truth, nor Allen and I, have abandoned our loving heavenly father, Jehovah God. If anything, we are finally trying to develop a relationship with HIM based on our hearts without having to have someone else develop that for us based on their ideals/interpretations. The peace and liberation is one of the most amazing things weve ever experienced. Like I said, the only bad thing is the happenings with family and friends we know and love, but we cannot base our relationship with Jehovah on that.

    I emailed my parents the story about why and how Ive come to where I am today because they kept pressuring us for an explanation as to why we have quit meetings. I wrote them that the email is for their eyes only. That if they would abide by what the Organization has taught them, it has been brought out many times that the sharing and forwarding of emails and personal letters is not acceptable. I told them that I was sending them my explanations in the surety of knowing that they would abide by that because I did not want to spread our ideas/thoughts/knowledge to others unless we are asked to do so. They had asked for it and if anyone else wants to ask US, WE will provide it for them. Well, my parents went spreading what I said to my Witness family and have told them that my husband and I have disassociated ourselves. That lie continued to spread through the brothers and sisters in various states here in the U.S. and even to our friends in Great Britain. We are so angry and hurt knowing that these people can go running around spreading things, including lies, and will still be labeled as good-standing Christian-Witnesses of Jehovah, bound for everlasting life and that we will be the ones labeled with apostate, disassociated, shunned. We are just thankful we dont have to be a part of that hate and control any longer!

    This certainly has not been an easy decision to come to, nor will it be an easy one to live with. We arent foolish enough to believe that we will just live now without any consequence regarding our stand. It will be painful at times, even though we will have the peace of knowing what we did was right and good. It certainly wouldn't be easy to live a life we felt was wrong either, and continuing as a Witness would be doing just that. We hate the idea that eventually even my husbands family members may shun us...but we are doing this for US and our children. We cannot base our decisions on what makes other people happy or secure, no matter how much we want to. We are keeping in mind these two very crucial scriptures every single day to give us confidence that what we are doing is perfect in Jehovah's eyes: Deut. 13:1-4 and Deut. 18:20-22. We are looking forward to the day that our minds quiet down and we can just get on with our lives in joy, peace, and freedom!


    Edited by - truthseekers2 on 6 February 2003 1:43:57

  • Warrigal

    Hi Shauna; Glad you could tell your story. When I was involved with the congregation the lack of brotherly love was so evident. I thought it was only the congregation that I attended! Since coming to this forum I've found that it is one of the most common complaints about the JWs. Thanks for telling of your experiences. You confirm that this loveless cult has spread far and wide.

  • Banshee


    Congratulations to you and your husband for getting out of the cult! Thank you for telling your story.

  • Tatiana

    Hi Shauna....I could swear you are talking about my cong in Georgetown, SC.

    , I witnessed molestations, homosexuality, drunkeness, alcoholism, extra-marital affairs, premarital sex, babies born out of wedlock, drug abuse, jail terms, prison terms, arrests, divorces, and so much more. What is bad was that these things were not occasional occurrences, but they were continual. I felt as if I was in the midst of the very Sodom and Gomorrah described in the Bible that we would gasp over and shake our heads in condemnation about when we studied them! What was really awful is the constant divisions, cliques, and bickering. Absolutely no love or brotherly affection. None!

    I read your story. It was wonderfully written and I'm glad you shared it. I was wondering if you would mind if I printed it to send to my niece? She is having the same doubts, but is terrified of committing the "unforgivable sin" of apostacy. You spoke so well, and you said some of the same things she's said to me. She won't come to this site yet, so I would love if she could read this.

    I hope you find peace....



  • truthseekers2

    April, Yes! Please, feel free to send it to your niece. Also, she is welcome to write to me personally about her doubts, her fears, etc. I have listened to many a sister over the years! I would be glad to offer her a shoulder and support. She can be assured that I will not pressure her to leave...but I won't discourage her if she should decide to either!


    [email protected]

  • AlanF

    Hi Shauna,

    I would like to know where you got the information that:

    : ... there are now members of the governing body that are not among the anointed.

    So far as I know, all of them are "anointed". What gives?


  • Mac


    Thank you for sharing your story. Wishing you and your hubby the best!


  • truthseekers2

    Alan, Rut roh...hope I didn't refer to something that isn't true. That is what I understood, but I can't remember where I got the information. Be back with you on this soon.

  • Tatiana

    Thanks Shauna...I will. And I'll give her your email addy. She's having so many doubts. She had no idea about the UN connection. And when she asked one of the brothers, they were actually angry at her and told her to forget about it. That upset her. I talk to her on the phone quite frequently. Sometimes we talk for over two hours about her concerns. I know this will help.



  • truthseekers2

    Alan, I do think I made an error in my statement. I believe that the thing that is causing members of the anointed to leave is that there are plans to replace some of the anointed with members of the great crowd...positions previously reserved for the anointed. Also, there is speculation that the governing body and president will eventually have to be replaced by younger members of the great crowd eventually. I will keep researching this, but I will put a correction in my biography as well. I'm sorry for the error.

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