My name is Jimbo, I'm almost 20 years old, and I live in southern California. Here we go, here's my story (I feel like I'm in an AA meeting haha):
I was invited by a friend who, looking back, I could tell was buttering me up for months so she can lunge on the perfect opportunity to invite me to a meeting. The way she presented it with all the pamphlets sounded appealing, plus I didn't bother listening to all the hate against JW's because I tend to drown out white noise like when it comes to most topics in life anyhow. At first, I loved what I was learning. I thoroughly enjoyed the studies and what they were teaching me. A family of five (two parents, two sons, and daughter) had immediately practically taken me in as their own. They helped me earn my driver's license, buy my first car, get a new job (old one was cutting my hours heavily), pay my rent when I was hitting financial struggles, and more. I live out here in California all by myself, so I was flustered by how generous and loving everyone was.
Yet, that started to change when Google became my friend. I'm the type of person that really likes to hold ideas under scrutiny before believing them, so I decided to do a little research on the history of Jehovah's Witnesses and the Watchtower. For any that haven't seen it, jwfacts.com is a great website with hours of intense information that I poured over. I also discovered this forum almost immediately and became familiar with people on here. I've actually been checking on this website on and off for about a year since I left. Anyway, regardless of what I was reading on the Internet, I decided to hang around. I'm usually a fairly open-minded person that likes to see and experience both sides. I reasoned, "Well, there's arguments against every ideology, religious or not, so I'll only know if I keep experiencing it for myself." Only, my experiences turned sour rather quickly. Watchtower doctrine never made any sense and I always found myself performing mental gymnastics to rely on the Bible for it. The trinity is a classic example. I won't delve into it too much, but I'll say that it's impossible to read the New Testament without seeing a strong correlation between the three figures in the Trinity. Once I also learned about the Jewish context of many passages in the Bible, it became evident that the people who wrote the New Testament clearly saw Jesus and the Holy Spirit as God along with the Father. Even the NWT Bible couldn't edit out certain passages that revealed this (and they've edited a lot of passages). When I got to experience watching someone shunned, I was appalled. He was such a kind, gentle young man, and it made my stomach churn to see even his mother sitting in an aisle apart from him. Their constant discussions about "worldly" people and how corrupted every church is. Funny, most of them have never even been to a real church and others haven't had a "worldly" friend in years to decades or ever. The congregation tried pressuring me into quitting college and joining their Bethel program instead. Whenever I would skip a congregation to sleep in or attend other plans, my phone would blow up and I'd get shady glances the next time I saw them. I could go on, but you all know where I'm coming from. After seven months of attending that wretched cult, I stopped going. I told the oldest son of the family I mentioned that I wanted to branch out and I'll let him know if I ever decide to rejoin (but I never planned on setting foot in a congregation again).
I still wanted to explore many religions, so I went through a process of intensely studying world religions, theology, and topics of philosophy relevant to religion. I remember sitting in my room and pouring over books and articles for hours on end. After a while, I decided that Christianity is the most probable outcome of any worldview (I can tell most people here would shake their heads at that, most of you are atheists I've noticed), so I now attend a non-denominational church. It's so nice. I'm free to criticize and explore all kinds of theology, I'm surrounded by people who are genuinely loving and are generous out of the goodness of their hearts and not because they want to convert me, no one is trying to force outlandish life decisions (like not being alone with someone of the opposite sex, what a joke), and more. It's a serene feeling when I compare my JW life to where I am now.
Anyway, I'd like to end this with a question: Is there anything that triggers you back to your JW life? You know, something that's nostalgic and has probably ruined it for you? Me personally, the word "worldly" is bothersome to me now. I remember the sick feeling I'd get in my stomach when hearing that word among JW's, because it's a manipulative tool for conformity. What about you guys?