Hi everyone! This is a just a very brief posting (although I'm not sure if I'm making it in the right forum ) to introduce myself to you guys. Although it's the first (well, with this post, second) post I make in the forum, I have been lurking for quite a while, probably over a year or so.
My background is like so many of yours I'm sure. Just a brief run through of my life will be made, I don't have anything exceptional to say since my life is pretty plain in comparison to most people .
My parents were introduced into "the truth", when I was 3 years old (that was the last year I'm told I had a birthday party and celebrated Christmas) and are still inside the organization. As for me, I was quite faithful in the organization until about the time when I was fifteen years old and got my very first computer. Of course, like everyone else here I'm sure, the very first word I punched into Yahoo! was "Jehovah's Witnesses" and it came back with quite a few hits. To my naive surprise, not all of them were positive and I was intrigued by the messages of those "apostate" websites. In reality, I felt oddly liberated finding out the real truth about what kind of organization I was in.
I had doubts since before, but no one to express them to and of course, my entire life revolved around witness activities so there was no doubt in my mind that something was wrong with ME. My first doubts came when I saw how two-faced a lot of the people were when in totally different settings. People I was told to look up to did more amoral things than I did (in retrospect, good for them, they actually maybe managed to live a more normal life) and this baffled me intensely since I was told people in authority were put there by Jehovah's guidance. Of course, once I found out about a lot of false prophecies my doubts became threefold and I went on a huge campaign of finding out everything I could about the organization my family and I were in.
By the age of sixteen, it was obvious this organization were most definately NOT divinely inspired. Around this little epiphany (sp?) I became more and more withdrawn from the congregation we attended and the people in it. I pretty much began the process of removing myself silently from the organization as I did not want to be disfellowshipped. Reading about everyone's experience now, I think most people do this out of instinct as they can't fathom the idea of everything they knew being ripped away from them so fast; I salute those who are brave enough to confront the elders and/or publicly begin acknowledging their new acquired beliefs. The only thing I had the guts for was introducing a lot of the congregation to the internet and I could only hope that they used it as a tool to gather information like I had.
At any rate, as I became more and more scarce in the meetings, I began having conflicts at home with my parents because of my abscenses to preaching and meetings. About the same time, I also gave up all my responsibilities in the congregation (I worked on the territories, typed ALL of our congregation's papers to be put on the public board, and worked the sound system); luckily, I was never named Ministeral Servant (is that how it's said in English? We only attended Spanish congregations). For some reason, the president of the congregation (I know this one is wrong, please tell me what the title is called in English ) [who is the elder appointed "in charge" I guess] started to look over my way. He was quite a strict elder and started putting pressure on me to increase my service to the congregation. When I didn't comply, he told the Superintendent who had a little chat with me during his visit. His "punishment" was to take away my "privelege" of passing the microphones and reading the Watchtower. Gee, I was really, erm, dissapointed .
For a few more years I had to keep up my apperances and go at least on Sundays (though I was the last one to arrive and the first one to leave ); but as luck would have it, when I was 20 our job relocatted us (my dad and myself work in the same place) to another state. From the moment I arrived, I started making excuses of not being able to go to the new congregation (my publisher card did get sent down here, though, I assume). For a while, this caused tension with my dad who became irritated that the time was never right for me to go. Eventually, the District Convention rolled around and I had to go forcefully through many guilt trips of my parents. When I got there, I found that I just couldn't stomach the whole structure and monotony anymore. I went one whole day, and the next day I left during the break; I swore to myself, "NO MORE!" and I haven't been to one since (that was 3 years ago). Thankfully, I never went to any meetings and so was left blissfully alone by the elders in my congregation for a while. They later took up an interest to "visit" me, but that is a whole other story for another post .
I have, for now, managed to escape with being inactive and hope that I can keep getting away with it for a while to come. In the meanwhile, I began down my "pagan" road by beginning to celebrate things such as Mother's Day (my mother cried tears of utter joy when I gave her something on Mother's Day, I think she had forgotten how nice it felt to be acknowledged by devoting a whole day to her), birthdays (I give presents to my closer family members), and (starting this last year) a little Christmas. My mom has even picked up some of these "nasty habits" and actually gave me a birthday gift last year, that was the first birthday present I'd had in 19 years; and she expects roses and a nice gift on Mother's Day now .
All in all, I've been very happy fading away and haven't hit any road bumps anymore. Like I told my best friend (a non-JW, although she's been exposed to some of it), "I'm more happy now, than I ever was serving the Watchtower 'god'". I honestly feel that if there is a God out there like the New Testament says he is, we are all already saved and we have to just endeavour in our daily lives to bring as much joy to ourselves and to those around us. I think I've finally found peace and balance with myself. When I think about my time spent in the organization now, I don't know how I endured it or how I could of left my entire childhood slip away. I am saddened by a lot of lost opportunities, but instead of dwelling on them, I look forward to experience the world instead of fearing it.
Oh, and sorry for the long-winded post. I guess I got a bit carried away! It was very nice to write to all of you and hope to have many fruitful and caring interactions with you all.
Welcome to the board you lurker
The fade out seems to be the best thing to do. Your mom sounds like a smart woman. Maybe you'll lead her out of the darkness in the future.
I think my mom only really goes for the benefit of my dad and for a "social" structure. She has many friends in the organization and I don't think she could handle being away from them. I, luckily, never really liked the kids of my congregation because of the "phoney" factor so I don't miss any of them .
My mom doesn't truly believe in the organization and probably doesn't care either way. She's happy not ever discussing religion and she only gives any sort of talks whenever she feels like it. She's even told elders that she will only do things whenever she is up for them and refuses to be pressured into doing something she doesn't want to do. I know she'd never think of leaving if my dad is still inside the organization (he believes in the religion very much so ) but at the same time doesn't really think they hold the eternal truths of life. I think she's happy with that balance and it's worked for her as of right now.
Sounds like your mom has her head on straight. I wish I would have had more guts when I was still in the bOrg, to do what I wanted, when I wanted. My greatest torment was preparing a talk. I felt it was my duty to be part of the cong. in doing this, you know the whole participation thing. Don't get me wrong I'm not an introvert, I am totalling the opposite. For some reason I would just work myself up so much into a frenzy, I would finally get the talk done, get up on stage, do my little part and be done with it. But there were also a lot of times I'd call up the night of the meeting and say I was sick.
I'm glad I'm out, doing what I want, when I want.
I'm away from the judgmental attitude of the bOrg.
I read your intro and it is dimilar to ine in that I too faded away and I do not want to deal with being DF'd or disassociating myself at this time. I fear losing my siblings. I am just now starting to invesigate the teachings of the "WT Society" We have been taught so much, you are right it is hard to just push it out of your mind so quickly. I have already wrote a letter to the United Nations and asked them about the Organization's association with them. I am waiting for a reply.
I have question for you: What do you know of the bands the Witnesses had on them back in the early 90's or maybe late 80's? I figure you may have more knowleddge since you came from a spanish congregation. I am trying to investigate this information as well. According to some people on this site (anybody correct me if I am wrong) Mexico was not allowed to pray or sing their kingdom melodies at meetings not because of religious pesecution but, because the Witnesses did not want to be recognized as a religious organazation but, rather a culteral org. so that they can own property. I would like to research this further outside of Franz's Crisis of Conscience book. Any suggestions would be helpful.
Take care an Welcome!
Welcome to the board, Faust! I enjoyed your "small introduction". And it wasn't too long, it was actually about the same length as most people's first posts are when they explain how they got here.
I hope you'll enjoy the discussions and conversation out here. I sure have.
I am glad you were able to figure out at an early age that the WTS doesn't and never did hold the eternal truths of life. Anybody who claims they have all the answers is obviously quite deluded or from another planet! For some of us it took quite a few more wasted years before we finally left or were pushed out. It's "better late than never" for people like me who got out so late (age 39 in my case).
I really enjoyed the way you wrote your story. BTW --- a couple of the theocratic terms you were looking for, for President you would say "Presiding Overseer", and for Superintendent you would say "Circuit Overseer".
Please post again soon.
Thanks gopher for the encouraging words and for answering my questions! I have no clue how I didn't pick up on those terms in a year of lurking . You are right about people claiming to have all the answers... if I ever come across an organization or individual like that in my life I think I'll run shrieking like a little girl in the opposite direction . To be honest, all of organized religion gets a, "thanks, but no thanks" from me for a while.
To answer you question Sandy (or more specifically to not answer it ), I've no idea if the Witnesses ever did such things. I remember when I was young (around 1991 or so) that I went to a Kingdom Hall in Mexico and they did not sing Kingdom Melodies. But if I remember correctly, we were told it was because they society did not yet have the song books printed and distributed in Mexico yet. In fact, to the meeting I went, they played the songs, but no one had a song book to sing along to the music; everyone just stood up (kind of like how people stand up when they sing the Star Spangled Banner) until the song was over. I don't recall if they said prayer or not, but I believe they did otherwise I think it would've made some sort of impact on me. Sorry I couldn't be of more help. We mostly attended to the Kingdom Halls here in the United States and it was mostly my parents that went to the service meetings in Mexico whenever we went down on vacation.
I agree with the sentiment calamityjane, I too am very glad to be out . And I hope my mom is able to keep this nice balance without getting in trouble.
You'll "run shrieking like a little girl" !! Very funny, Faust!
As far as the avoidance of organized religion, I totally agree with you. After I separated from the JW's, I briefly took a look and considered other religions (even TV ministries). But I soon came to the conclusion that they were all just meddling in your personal beliefs and faith (or lack thereof). In the end it came down to the fact that they wanted you to listen to what a man or group of men had to say, and I have had more than enough of that for one lifetime!
Welcome to the outside!
As far as your dad goes, don't count him out yet. This site has lots of former extreme zealots - you may have read posts from many of them. I think they'll all tell you that he won't see the org for what it is until he is ready. But once he does, that zeal will work in his favor. That sense of being duped turns to rage and action.
Welcome, Faust. Great story!