Finally, after almost 3 years, they want to visit with me
So I ended up going to the meeting yesterday. I have been absent for almost 2 months. My wife was also absent as long but mostly out of chance. She would have gladly gone but in between relatives visiting, out of town trips, etc. Some Sundays she made the attempt to go but ended up waking up late. She has come to hate showing up to the meeting late because she feels they make her parade all the way to the front row. (No surprise to me there). Now with the new year there is a new schedule for the Sunday meeting. It now starts at noon, so many less chances of missing it. I decided to go with her because I had the bad feeling that having missed so many, someone was going to approach her. Despite the better advice from the organization, our elders have a really bad habit of approaching women when they are on their own to question them.
Nothing less than what I expected, as soon as the meeting was over, we tried to make a dash for the exit. We were already in the parking lot, half way to our car. I was thinking we had made it out but no. Surprisingly, a sister cries out for my wife.
Sister D....! Hi!
Oh!, I thought, I guess she just wants to say hi. After the regular chit chat, I was surprised to hear she was delivering the invitation to my wife. Not me. She told my wife in a very social tone that her and her (elder) husband would like to come by our house later for a visit. She did make eye contact with me but she never addressed me directly. She clarified we did not have to prepare a meal or anything. It was just going to be social.
When we got home, we got ready to go out grocery shopping and I told her we needed to discuss about that visit. She was open to the discussion (which also surprised me) but that she did not think they were going to come that same day. I said I wasn't so sure but that either way we had to discuss it in case they did. We both agreed to avoid the visit until we had a chance to talk. Not much later that day I get a call from them. I showed my phone to her while it was still ringing and she was like "Don't answer it!". So I did not. Later a get a text message from him asking me if we would be home later that day. I replied that I could not receive him that day and he replied right back..."What about Friday?"
It is obvious at this point that the visit has a dual purpose. I got to say this couple if one of the nicest JW couples you will ever meet. I would hate to have to avoid them. I also feel that since is a couple and not a company of elders, the weight of the visit may not be the same as a shepherding call. I do have it clear that anything I say will be used against me and that regardless of her presence, she would be a witness against me in a JC if she has to.
My wife and I still have to take the time to discuss this but I was wondering if anyone has any previous experience with this kind of approach. I have read many here, but I don't know that I've read one where a couple (husband and wife) would push themselves onto visiting someone. Any experiences out there?
sounds like it could be a genuine social visit, you say they are a nice couple so it wouldn't ring too many alarm bells, it all depends if you can be bothered to entertain them and have to make an effort, TBH I couldn't be asked, when I was fading while my ex remained loyal I dodged every single "social" invite that she was purposely setting in the hope that it would reactivate me, it didn't. Also I knew I had to be very careful what I spoke about and if I was to say anything that was not of the party line I would be quickly reported, I cant bear such hypercritical superficial people. It sounds like your wife is just a sceptical about the visit as you are, so its probably best to do everything possible to keep them at bay, at the end of the day nothing beneficial will come out of such a visit and I expect you have far better things to be doing with your time.
I think being away from the cult and spending more time around normal people is having an impact on me - it suddenly strikes me as odd that someone that you're not very close with would ask to come to your home for something that is merely a social visit. It seems to me that if they want a social visit they should invite you to their home - they're the ones that want it, so they should be the ones to have to go to the trouble of preparing the home for guests, handling entertainment, etc. It's not a purely social visit - if it were then mr elder would be fine with hosting - it's because he's doing this as a part of his duties that he's looking for a way to reduce the load on himself by inviting himself to your house. The other advantage to the elder in this case is that by meeting at your home he's able to have you cornered - it's much harder to come up with a polite excuse (and most people will actually go a long way in the effort of following social norms of politeness even when the other party is not) to terminate the visit when they're in your home. You can't make a vague claim of other plans or give a reason you need to excuse yourself and leave, you have to kick them out of your home. So, as counterintuitive as it might seem, having the visit at your home actually puts a fair amount of the power in their hands because it forces you to be an impolite and ungracious host if you want to control the length of the visit.
It might be interesting to say something like "well it's actually going to be very difficult for us to have guests at our home right now, even for just a short social visit, but we might be free to drop by if you'd like to have us over. It might be interesting to see how they'd react to that, and if you do end up doing the visit, it will be much easier to politely excuse yourself if things get uncomfortable.
it's much harder to come up with a polite excuse ........ to terminate the visit when they're in your home. You can't make a vague claim of other plans or give a reason you need to excuse yourself and leave, you have to kick them out of your home............. having the visit at your home actually puts a fair amount of the power in their hands because it forces you to be an impolite and ungracious host if you want to control the length of the visit.
I guess this depends upon what type of relationship you want to have with them after the visit is over.
I remember a visit I had with a couple of elders who shepherd called upon my house one day, I suspect at the behest of my wife. The reason I think it was at the behest of my wife was that she intimated to me that the call would be for her, but left me in the room with them alone shortly after they arrived.
This was just after one of their assemblies where they were equating themselves with being the modern day Ark (IE Noah's Ark).
During the visit, they were trying to corner me on some asinine point about agreeing that salvation was only through association with the organization (WT Society) and that I would be a fool to not be a fully active member. Exasperated, I finally told them
"Look......we can sit here and discuss the Bible all you want, but, I will not have you guys attempt to corner or beat me over the head with it."
After a stunned silence from them, they hurriedly terminated the visit and left.
.....without even a handshake or a closing prayer.
Maybe they want to sign you up for some multi level marketing scheme they've gotten involved with.
Seriously though....it took a little over 3 years for anyone to come looking for us after our last meeting. 25+years of regular attendance and participation and socializing and raising our kids and no one cared. The Circuit Overseer who called on us with one of my old Elder friends, was shocked that this happened.
He said, " You haven't been at the meetings lately...we're concerned " . I said "My last meeting was the Memorial of 2008. Here it is almost 2012 and this is the first time anyone came to check on us. Not even so much as a phone call after over 25 years of attending that Congregation ". The look he shot toward that Elder friend of mine, could have stopped time. HA !
I'm not sure from your post if you been gone for 3 years or two months but either way, I suppose in view of my experience, it's nice that someone is making the effort.
Not to be overly cynical but if there hasn't been meeting attendance or field service reported, they can count their time by calling on you, face to face or on the phone. In person, they could be there 4 or 5 hours depending on how talkative you are, which for them would be preferable to knocking on doors. They may even be able to study with you for a period of time.
As JW's, I'm sure on some level they are concerned about your "spirituality" or at least have been convinced that it's their duty to be concerned about your "spirituality" but if you do visit with them face to face, you might end up saying too much or drawing some kind of line in the sand. It might be better to avoid them altogether.
Thanks everyone for the input. It is truly appreciated. I am not going to say we are the best of friends but we do know each other well enough to swing by each others home with little to no announcement. I was more shocked by the fact that the woman had the initiative (Although I am not so naive to think this is her idea) to come and approach us. I thought it was strange that during the last 3 years no one has bothered (to the point that my wife thinks I am paranoid and reinforces her idea that elders never harass anyone) and that now a couple would insist on coming by to what is clearly a "shepherding"...ahem! more like a concerned friend coming to see how you are doing. For I care they may come and say "we haven't seen you in the meetings, are you ok... yeah we are ok... all right then, goodnight". But I want to be prepared. I find it hard to believe that someone who just wants to know how you are would insist on getting a date and time for the visit.
I think that you have a good handle as to what's going on,
The sister would really like to be a an elder if she had her way,
So this way she gets to play one,
I think that if it wasn't for your wife you know what to do here,
But you want peace at home and this is very understandable,
I think you're going to go through with it for that reason,
Speaking from my own experience I think you have to say something
Like "I'm happy to catch up but I'm not talking to anybody about faith or religion, I'm not sharing what is very personal to me,
If they don't respect my wishes in my own home, I stand up and help them with their coats,
I think they owe me that respect,
Precisely as you stated it. I was just wondering if anyone had any similar experiences.
They will definitely get as much respect as they give me.
Any experiences out there?
Yes, with me they wanted to meet with me, and they wanted me to just drop everything (even during business hours) and be available to them when/as/because they said so.
I'd suggest that even if your wife and you disagree about the WT and JW thing, it will be better for both to come up with a united front. For example, to use their own nonsense against them, when anyone, including elder's wives, come to talk to her about meeting or anything else without involving you, she can tell that she as a submissive wife has to run that by you, the head of the household.
You on the other hand, as head of household can claim that you have to discuss this (if you want to have more impact, you can tell that you will do it under prayer) with your wife, and tell them that it's in the interest of both your spiritual well beings. If they push it, you can remind them that you are doing things as per their own guidance for how to conduct business related to your family.
Your wife can insists that "you don't allow" her to talk to the elders alone or without you knowing, and that she as a "submissive, obedient" wife, should respect your word. Even if it's all BS, showing that you two are on the same page will have them stop doing that disrespectful thing of attempting at attacking the one they think is the weakest or easier to entice.
Also, you can just call them on their BS and set a boundary flat out and tell them not to be disrespectful to you.
All of a sudden a proposed social visit on their terms to YOUR house. Even the nicest of JWs try to go fishing. Over to you whether you take the bait.