I got a phone call a couple of nights ago from my younger brother. Actually a message on my voice mail. He called to let me know that last night he and his band would be practicing at his apartment and wanted me to come over because "we haven't hung out together in a long time" His own words to his DISFELLOWSHIPPED brother! "We haven't hung out together in a long time".
I couldn't make it so I called yesterday afternoon to tell him. No biggie, no one else had showed up either and he was as tired as I was. So we just talked for a while on the phone.
Matt has been reinstated as a Witness. He's happy and I'm happy for him. Like I told him when he first got df'd, I stand behind him no matter what because he's my family. Back when I told him that, he said "that means more to me than you'll ever know" and he told me that we would always be close. Matt's kept true to his word. We may go a month or so between calls or visits, but we never stay out of touch for long. We'll go out to lunch together when he brings his truck to my shop for service, we talk on the phone, he'll drop by my apartment once in a while. We're closer now than we ever were as kids growing up. The kid still looks up to me, but to be honest I look up to him now too because I see what a cool dude he's become.
Anyways, back to his reinstatement. He told me that everyone pretty much just leaves him alone now. Once the announcement was made, it was all back to normal. He makes the meetings he can and goes out in service when he can, but if he misses either there's no questions asked. He's got all his friends back now. Of course, there were plenty who remained his friend when he was df'd.
I pointed that out to him. That there were those who didn't shun him while he was out. Those are true friends. He agreed. One of his band members is currently df'd. Matt is treating him like a true friend because that's what he is, regardless of whether he's "in" or "out". (damn! I'm so proud of Matt, he's got a heart bigger than his whole body!).
I told Matt that his generation is the one that will play a role in changing the JW's. I truly believe that. Matt sees that too and I think Metatron will agree with me here. Matt and his friends in the Empire do want to be Witnesses, but they're doing it on their own terms. That's Matt's exact words, "I'm reinstated on my own terms". He's going to keep on living his life his way, same with his friends. It's not even a "double life" to him anymore. It's more "compartmentalized". He's a Witness, he goes to meetings and out in service, and his Witness life is truly not just a show, and he's got his life outside the Kingdom Hall and that life is "none of their business". I say it's not just a show because it really isn't just a show. He really does believe a lot of what he's taught, what he checks out and verifies for himself. The things that he's taught that he sees to be inaccurate, he disregards.
It was all good news to me. Matt isn't unique amongst the 20-somethings in the Empire by a long shot. I really expect to see the hardliners become more and more a fringe element in the coming years and for the Empire to gradually become a "kinder, gentler" though only slightly-less insane version of itself.