Walking a thin line - Resigning Elder

by Sanchy 106 Replies latest jw friends

  • Sanchy

    Hi all,

    Warning of a long boring post ahead. I feel like i need to vent my story out, as I feel quite helpless at the moment.

    I'm 31 year old, married, father of toddler with another one on the way, due later this month. I've been serving as elder for about 4 years now in a south Florida congregation. I've always had certain questions about some bible verses and how they applied to our doctrines, but as most faithful JWs, I always put them aside with the typical "I'll receive my answer one day". It was only recently, due to certain events in my life, that I started meditating on these doubts again, making me realize that they were much more important than I gave them credit for.

    Realizing our organization's doctrines were not as easy to explain with the bible as I once believed, I went on a personal study binge, reading and sucking up all the info I can, looking for answers to my "doubts". I even started looking for archived watchtower mags and books, which ended up only causing me more doubts, as I saw then how many failed predictions our org has made throughout the years, and how our core doctrines have changed dramatically as well.

    Then, that moment most of us have gone through here: Realizing there is a very big possibility that this is not the truth. That moment hit me like a ton of bricks. I've been born and raised in the "truth". Its all i've ever known. All my family is in it. My wife and her family as well. I'm serving as elder with good standing in the cong; brothers always looking up to me as a "good example". Needless to say, those were some terrible days of sleepless nights, shedding many tears.

    Since then, I've allowed myself to visit "apostate" sites such as this one and jwfacts. These of course opened my eyes further on the matter. So, some time went by and I realized I must do something about it. I started by talking to my pregnant wife about the matter. She of course was shocked. However, she took it well, mostly trying to blame my issues on the stresses of our new life as parents. Since then, I've continued seeking opportunities to "study" with her and subtly mention new things I've found which I continue to question. As many of you know, it is not an easy task to open someone else's eyes. It seems doctrines and failed predictions do not seem to matter to her as much as it does me. She casts them aside as imperfections from imperfect humans, but overall we have the "general truth". So I dont know how I will handle this, I'm guessing with much patience, love, and directly from the bible (no apostate literature whatsoever as that will turn her off right away).

    Next step, I turned in my letter of resignation as elder. This was terribly difficult. Elders almost cried in front of me when I told them of my situation. Of course, I lightened my matter some ("I'm having some doubts as to certain things and I need time to work on myself, my conscience hurts teaching something from the platform which I'm not too sure of). In reality, I'm sure this is not the truth now. But, and this is the reason for the title of my post. I feel like I need to fade as gently as possible.

    All my family is in the org. I've got no friends, no family, no one outside of it. My wife is also the same. If I DA or get DF, besides losing all those I love, I know my wife will cut off "spiritual conversations" with me and so also will be gone my chances at trying to open her eyes. With my second child on the way, my wife has told me that if I am to leave the truth, she will teach it to them, regardless of my spiritual position. She also told me that I've made her life so much more difficult now, as she married me, knowing that I was a spiritual man; she never thought she would have to deal with this. Needless to say, this breaks my heart. I love her very much, and do not want to cause her, or anyone else pain.

    So, this is my situation. Elders are still in process of sending my details to CO and branch, awaiting their approval for my resignation. My wife does not share my doubts. I've got two children. My family is somewhat aware of the matter, as I've told them I'm stepping down from being an elder because of doubts and circumstances. They are also heart broken, but still "talking to me" at least. My road ahead is a difficult one, as has been for all of you in similar situation. I dont know what to believe, but I know this is something that I can't believe in anymore.

    Just a side note: I don't hate my fellow brothers. Even those on top of the ranks. As a matter of fact, I love them very much. Having served as elder for a while, I must say it is quite a difficult task. These men sacrifice a lot of time and energy to complete the tasks put in front of them, and i have nothing but respect for those that do it wholeheartedly. I know many of them are imperfect and have handled things perhaps not in the best way. However, overall, these men are genuinely trying to follow what they've been taught to do, as best as they can. So, you will never see me criticizing an individual. It's the organization in general, that has been setup as it currently exists, that is the culprit and the reason why good individuals can be completely blinded.

    If you've made it this far reading, and are in similar situation to me, especially regarding having had a believing mate that did not want to open their eyes, I would love to hear from you, and any advice you would think worth sharing. Thx again.

  • poopie
    Would you care to elaborate on the the doubts.
  • Je.suis.oisif

    Hi Sanchy, welcome. The only thing I can identify alongside you is the shedding of many tears and sleepless nights. Take care buddy! As others more qualified to advise you will be along shortly, take your time. If you're strong enough mentally, fake it till you make it.

  • TimDrake1914

    Are you me? Seriously, reading your story took me back to about 3 years ago when I started on the same path. Pretty much the same situation as yours, except for only having one child. The best advice I can give you in regards to your wife is this: love. Show your wife that you continue to love her, and give her and your children your all to prove that you feel nothing but love for her. She will go through much mental pain as you continue on your journey, maybe even thinking about divorce as an "easy" way out, but just beat those thoughts back by showing her nothing but love. Treat her as an equal, empowering her and encouraging her to pursue her individual interests and desires. This goes contrary to the WT view of how women should be submissive to men, treating them as less than men. This will eventually help her to empower herself, which is instrumental in getting her to think for herself, and not the way the organization wants her to think.

    If you want to wake her up eventually, the best thing you can do is continue to provide her questions to think about, but never providing her the answers to those questions. She has to arrive at the answers on her own. No one can ever really wake up someone else. It's the individual that wakes up themselves. But as long as she gives you her ear, tell her the questions you ask yourself, and if you feel compelled to provide her some sort of answer, phrase it in the form of a question that will linger in her mind even after you've finished talking. Facts don't stick in the human mind, especially a human mind that has been trained to reject any contradictory information. But questions do stay, and might eventually bring her enough mental discomfort (known as cognitive dissonance) that may eventually help her reason on her own.

    If you really want to understand the mindset that we JW's have been indoctrinated with, read Combatting Cult Mind Control by Steve Hassan. It's a must read for anyone that has woken up, and it's a great book that helps us heal from the mental abuse we have endured all the years we were mentally in. If you have any questions, feel free to PM me.

  • freddo

    A very very tough situation sanchy. I feel for you.

    If you want to have any chance of convincing your wife then take your time - but definitely resign. Be firm but go slow. From this moment onwards do not mention doubts until you have been announced as no longer serving. Just tell her you love her but have a lot of thinking and bible study to do.

    Field attempts to "shepherd" with "thank you so much but not now; it's all a bit stessful - perhaps after the baby is born" - repeat ad infinitum and when the baby is born put it off further.

    Emphasise how you need to resign so as to look after your family. Say you were too young when appointed and that you must focus on you and your wife's spirituality (which is not the same as WT rules and dogma) first before you can be any use to others.

    Do not get drawn out about your doubts. Rehearse what you will say. Plan what "they" might say. Stick to the script. "I need to concentrate on my family/ it is too stressing to serve at the same time."

    Between now until AFTER you have been announced as "off" spend your time being the best husband you can be. Be attentive to your wife and the new baby. Keep saying you will not serve until your baby is born and you have settled down. This can take at least a year or two after the baby has been born.

    Do fun things. Keep family study non-controversial. Make the theme Acts 20 v 35 about giving. NOT MONEY but time and energy to the elderly and downtrodden. Let's make a cake for Auntie Doris. Let's go for a walk and look at the creation. Pick the flowers.

    Obviously if a blood issue or a crisis hits then you may have to take the gloves off but until then "box clever". This will buy you 12 months of thinking time to plan and build up relationships outside the borg.

    Your wife is scared and emotional and pregnant. Reassure her of your love.

    You are scared too. Don't be afraid to admit that to yourself. I repeat. Take your time there is no rush. Armageddy isn't coming.

    Best of luck. You will get much good advice on here.

    Your main goal (I recommend) is that you an your immediate family remain intact and strong for each other. All else is secondary.

  • freemindfade
    Welcome and I too am currently in South Florida. Pm me if you like.
  • OneEyedJoe

    She also told me that I've made her life so much more difficult now, as she married me, knowing that I was a spiritual man; she never thought she would have to deal with this. Needless to say, this breaks my heart. I love her very much, and do not want to cause her, or anyone else pain.

    It's almost as if I'd written this myself. My wife, similar to yours, has dismissed literally everything I've discussed with her. The things I talked to her about prior to "coming out" as being apostate, she dismissed so thoroughly that she will insist that I never spoke to her about it. Everyone's situation is different and nuanced, and often the advice is to take your time and go slow, in my case I think that may have been a mistake. I've given up on getting my wife to wake up, and the year I spent completely mentally "out" seems to have caused her to have a lot of distrust for me. You might consider being honest with your wife and how that might play out. It's a difficult decision, though, and one that can only be made reliably with the power of hindsight.

    You're in a tough spot. Make sure to take care of yourself while you're dealing with all this - get rest, eat healthy, work out, get a massage, enjoy some recreation and de-stress. This will help you to deal with the elevated levels of stress that you've got going on. You'll have to be balanced with changes, though, as your wife will likely be threatened by them. Regardless of how open you are about your doubts, I would suggest you try to be open and reassuring about the reasons for any changes in your life. Try to make any changes you make have a positive element for your family as well - you've stepped down from being an elder, don't spend your extra time watching TV, spend it doing something that your family will enjoy. Make your stepping down the best thing that ever happened to them. This in itself may be enough to make them rethink things because the lie that the cult tells is that an elder family head is the best thing for the family's happiness...expose that string and maybe they'll pull at it and unravel the whole thing.

    Like you, all my family and all my wife's family are JWs. I've started branching out a little and have made some friends at work, which is probably the easiest place to start (hopefully you don't work for JWs...) but even that is a balancing act.

    Lastly, as you've discovered, you can't reason someone out of the cult. I wrote a post (link) a while back on this very topic. People don't believe or do things because of evidence and reason, it's because of emotion. Even your leaving the cult because of flawed doctrine and false prophecy can be traced back to an emotional motivation. I have yet to find an emotional motivation strong enough to cause my wife to reexamine things, but maybe you can.

    Sometimes it works out and people can make a marriage work with a still-in JW after leaving, sometimes it just can't work out. I hope it does in your case. I'm still struggling with it 2 years after waking up and nearly a year after I've stopped going to meetings completely. So I might not be able to offer the best of advice, but at the very least you should know you're not alone in this by any means. I wish you the best of luck in your journey.

    If you ever need to talk, feel free to PM me. Like I said, I might not be flush with good advice, but I can definitely commiserate.

  • juandefiero

    In my experience, doctrinal stuff will likely not wake up your wife.

    I tried waking my wife up with the 607 doctrine, the fact that there's proof a flood never happened, etc. She was willing to overlook all of that.

    What woke her up was the pedophilia issue.

    I sent her a news clip with a brief statement along the lines of, "JW's made the news this week." She watched it, and that was the turning point.

    We are now both out, and our children won't have to be raised in this organization.

  • adjusted knowledge
    adjusted knowledge
    There are a few of us in the south florida area. Maybe you can branch out your support group so you don't feel so lonely. Making new friends takes time but helps in a situation like this.
  • Daniel1555

    Hi Sanchy,

    I can feel very much for you as I was in a similar situation. I was also about your age when I resigned as elder.

    The advice Tim Drake and freddo gave is really good.

    In my situation it ended sadly in divorce and me df'd for apostasy (a long and painful journey). I must say though my ex wife is and was a hardcore JW. I am happy though to be able to live according to my conscience and to give all my love to my little son without faking a jw life.

    My advice is to give all your love to your children and wife but to be authentic and act according to your conscience but always respectful.

    You did already a huge step. To resign.

    If you need to talk you can also pm me.

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