The point at which you think this may not be the truth
For me it was the internet. Before the mid 90s we former JWs had no real way to look into their history. It was burred and hidden. Not talked about. My Grandfather who was in the cult since the mid 30s was a CO and Special Pioneer in the 50s and 60s. He was then an elder for the remainder of his life. He knew a lot of this history and would not say shit with a mouth full about it. Once the internet came out and people who knew started to create sites showing the truth. As I read and found out the true history of cult and Ray Franz I really started to think there is some BS going on here. For years before this I knew that their 1914 date had a sell by on it. If this generation could not pass away there was an outer limit to timeline. Then in 95 when the usual suspect idiots changed the very meaning of Generation that was hands down it for me. I remember saying I am out. I can still remember saying to one elder this was BS and he replied he was glad to see the society clarify the meaning. What a load of shit. They did not clarify a thing they changed the rules to the game mid game.
I came out in two sections. I awoke to the WTBTS organization at age 16 after reading Eric Hoffer's The True Believer back in the early 1960's.
While he never mentioned the WTBTS or JW's what he wrote about Mass religious and or political movements indicted everything the Society wanted you to believe.
Here are two examples:
All active mass movements strive, therefore, to interpose a fact-proof screen between the faithful and the realities of the world. ...by claiming that the ultimate and absolute truth is already embodied in their doctrine and that there is no truth nor certitude outside it. ...To rely on the evidence of senses and of reason is heresy and treason. It is startling to realize how much unbelief is necessary to make belief possible. What we know as blind faith is sustained by innumerable unbelief's.
Not only does a mass movement depict the present as mean and miserable - it deliberately makes it so. It fashions a pattern of individual existence that is dour, hard, repressive and dull. It decries pleasures and comforts and extols the rigorous life. It views ordinary enjoyment as trivial or even discreditable, and represents the pursuit of personal happiness as immoral.This put a barrier between myself and the organization. My service was directly related to the friends......and the friends only. I pioneered where the need was great. Met my lovely wife settled in to a life style that was service orientated until the day I took a lunch break under a shade tree next to a school. It was recess time and I watched the young children at play. Hearing their laughter and excitement it dawned on me what a foul self serving belief Armageddon was. The selfishness of 'millions living today may never die'.That the entire construct of the JW's was based on a number of false teachings. My wife and I were entirely out within a year still in our young 20's.The disrespect from family members, the friends we lost were a small price to pay for the ability of opening up our lives, making new and better friends, being well treated by family not in. Making our own decisions....charting our own course.If anything the JW's are in even worse shape today then in the past as they embrace total obedience to 7 men in N.Y. and the rational ignorance one needs to be an acceptable JW.
LevelThePlayingField >>>> I asked God that night to show me the truth, no matter what. Good, bad or ugly. And over the last four years he has shown to me that the truth as JW's know it isn't the truth
I am always curious when someone claims that God showed them something.
How does God do this?
Why didn't God show you that the truth as JW's know it isn't the truth from the very beginning?
Don't mean to sound insensitive to your waking up, I'm just curious when people make these claims.
1. Does your religious group have an elevated hierarchy?
2. Does that hierarchy claim to have been divinely selected by God to lead you?
3. Does your hierarchy require that you finance their lifestyle - rather than earning a living for themselves?
4. Does your hierarchy demand that their "understandings" must be obeyed - despite your own reasoning?
If it looks, walks, and quacks like a duck, then it's a duck. [cult]
For years I always said "if this isn't the truth, it's the closest thing to it"
"Nowhere else to go."
I think this is what keeps a lot of JWs in. They see problems within the organization, but the WT has convinced them that everything outside of the borg is horrific. Even if they see other things wrong with the WT, many don't seem to question this assumption. Perhaps they are not able to question it because the organization has etched it so deeply into their emotions.
Even after they leave the WT, many ex-JWs are unable to enter a church building (even to attend a funeral or wedding) or to make "worldly" friends because of all the fears the WT has programmed into them. As someone has said, "It's easier to get a person out of the Watchtower than it is to get the Watchtower out of them."
I realized it was not the truth when It dawned on me that all joy had been sucked out of my life and that following the Watchtower's advice had resulted in me wasting 28 years in a bad marriage. I decided that if God existed he certainly couldn't be get any satisfaction out of my misery. I walked away and didn't look back, best decision I ever made.
The shocking discovery that in 1985 my mother would choose to no longer even speak to me (because I had already long been faded - not DA or DF) simply because they told her to; researching Russell, and discovering the roots of the religion, his affiliation to the Masons (whether or not he was one is still not clear) but naming your Bible the "New World" Translation certainly indicates a very close affiliation; researching Rutherford and discovering what a drinker he was, that he authorized the purchase of Beth Sarim that he and his assistants would live in it complete with servants while the R&F were suffering during the depression; finding out about the 'Bethel Boys'; finding out about the JW's and the United Nations (that great old beast); reading Crisis of Conscience and learning that the GB rarely even prayed before making monumental decisions that affect every believer.
Thank God for the internet.
Well expressed OP - the rhythms of biking can help settle an upset heart, as can those of breathing, walking and rocking. Motion soothes.
I love how you weaved into your account the theme of hours of biking during the chilly night air.
It is hard to remain still when your world is turned upside down.
For me, I walked and walked and walked. I look back at that young man - me - who walked so much and I still want to reach out and say, "Hey, you're okay - you're going to be alright!" - words I never heard as a JW.
When did I really wake up? Sometimes I think I was "made" to doubt and it has taken me years to come to terms with that doubting disposition. So, even at my "strongest" as a JW - pioneering for a three year stretch, conducting Bible Studies, attending all 5 meetings week-in and week-out - I had a mind that was unsettled about this teaching or that explanation or a little bit of organizational skull-doggery here and there (e.g., Rutherford's unspeakably hateful slander of Olin Moyle in the 1930s - which is part of the USA public court record).
But for me the clincher, the eye-opener, the "end" of my life as a JW was learning about Ray Franz's concerns and trials.
If he could not make sense of JW organization's teachings, policies and official history, I sure as hell couldn't.
His departure drowned out the nonsense spewed by the well-intentioned but largely incompetent elders in my home congregation who blamed my "motives" for my doubts ("Perhaps you are just looking for excuses to quit...").
No, when Ray left, there was no conceivable possibility that I could stay. Within weeks of learning about Ray, I left. And I knew when I left my local kingdom hall in the early 1980s that I wouldn't be setting foot inside a kingdom hall ever again. It was that final.
Oh, I drove home that night in the comfort of my creaky car - although the endless walking picked up after that. Unsettled hearts need soothing - and the rhythms of walking were just what the doctor ordered.
It is shocking. It is devastating when it hits us. What??? I have been lied to my entire life??? All major decisions were based on the whims of uneducated men in Brooklyn? Oops. Was I really that naive to sacrifice my whole life to the illogical thoughts of strangers?
Then it sinks in...
Thanks for starting it, and thanks to everyone for your comments!
Yes, once we start down the rabbit-hole, there is no turning back. Once I learned one fact, then another, then another, I went through the stages of grief.
Denial, anger, etc....
Best quote that helped me: "Facts do not cease to exist just because they are ignored" Aldous Huxley