How do I handle this situation?
Hey everyone. I'm sorry that this isn't a very thought provoking post but I could really use some advice on how to handle this. There isn't anyone else in my life I can ask right now because, being DFed, all of my friends are "worldly" and don't know how witnesses function.
Just a recap, I was DFed a few months ago for adultery. I'm trying to get reinstated so I can have my family back. That's it.
This morning I was checking an old email account that I never use. I realized that my ex husband was still using the Facebook I had made for him on that email. I was getting email notifications for everything he was doing. He has been messaging a MS in my cong. This guy is on the fast track to becoming an elder. He has at least 2 parts each mid-week meeting, gives public talks every other week, etc. Anyway, my ex asked this guy "how's my whore of an ex wife?" (I don't blame my ex for saying that. He wasn't the greatest husband and I definitely wasn't the best wife at the end). I would have thought that such a 'spiritual' MS would respond a little bit differently...
He says "he avoids looking in my general direction when I'm at the meetings". "everyone hates seeing her. We wish she would switch to a different hall." "IF she gets reinstated in our hall she will have to switch because no one will treat her any different. No one will talk to her."
So my question is, what should I do? I'm supposed to be able to talk to my elders, or any elder for that matter, at any time. I'm really tempted to show my elders. I don't want it to backfire on me in some way though like "oh you weren't supposed to see those private messages!" But at the same time, how can this "exemplary" person be saying the things he did? Just trying to decide if I should sit on this or air it out.
Oh man! I don't really have any advice but I wanted you to know I read your post and think that the MS reply is disgusting, really super disgusting. You may get some flaming posts for reading the PMs but who gives a sh#!, they were there and you read them. What to do? I will leave that to others.
OK I do have one piece of advice. Maybe, really only maybe, you should switch congregations to one where they don't know you or don't know you very well. Even though the original JC will be responsible for reinstating you it may be helpful to be away from your ex-husband's contacts and any personal animosity that individuals may have developed for you. Who wants to go to every meeting and not only be ignored but also silently spied on and hated.
Normally I would even say to myself "that was information you weren't supposed to be privy to" but my ex was using the FB I had made him using an old email acct of mine. Why he's still using it beats me to be honest. But those message notifications were in MY email account, not his. If he had created a new account and I was still able to "break in" and read the msgs, I think that'd be an entirely different story
If you are working towards reinstatement than it couldn't hurt to meet with your elders and express concerns over the attitude of the congregation should you become reinstated. You do not have to "out" yourself that you were browsing through private messages. You can simply state that you have picked up on tidbits of gossip from here or there and are worried you will not be accepted into the congregation once reinstated. Come from a place of asking for their help, and try to see if you can get a couple of the elders to support you. Also, stay proactive about it, and once reinstated, be sure to ask for a sheparding call to follow up on how you are getting along. If there is a problem, they may have to bring it out in local needs or counsel the people still shunning you.
Every congregation is different and it is hard to say what yours is like. It is typical for JWs to take sides on an issue that is none of their business. Although, I can honestly say that I doubt the whole congregation will shun you once you are reinstated. There are several reinstated ones in my congregation that have committed adultery and some have done it more than once. Unless you know their story you would really never know. They aren't treated any differently. Again, all congregations are different, and in the end you may find switching to a new one is really best.
Im sorry you are going through this craziness. I personally don't know if I could or would go back to them if it were me, but, no judgement here. We all have our reasons.
Those comments by the MS warrant instant removal from his position. It pains me to see people like him escaping justice.
You need to think of what is best for your situation. You can pretend you never saw the email and continue on your efforts of coming back so you can be reinstated. I.e. Dont rock the boat.
Maybe you can wait until after you are reinstated and then show the elders? They cannot use the argument that they were private messages... the MS in the wrong no matter how this information was sourced.
It would be tempting to retaliate - you could really muck up the MS's life if his thoughts were made known to the "right" people - but if your goal is to get reinstated, you should do as little as possible to rock the boat.
If the MS does get promoted to elder, and somehow figures out you were the source of his troubles, you might not ever get reinstated.
Once you're back and safely faded, well, then go nuts! Save those e-mails some place so they are available if you ever need them.
AT the least make copies of the exchanges. I would certainly start thinking about talking to an attorney. Check out this site for an honest view of shunning and lawsuits that were successful.
Rebecca Hancock is a 49 year old divorced woman who was formerly a member of Grace Community Church in Jacksonville, Florida. She got involved in a sexual relationship with a man, by the name of Frank Young, and told her church mentor about it. The mentor advised her to break off the relationship and she claims, “I must have gone through 10 breakups trying to end it, but after not having the power to do it I would go back, It was hard to give up somebody I love.” Hancock evidentally believed these conversations were confidential. In October '08 the mentor pulled her into the second phase of church discipline. There was an argument and Hancock told the membership, "I cannot believe you people are doing this. I’m not going any further — I’m never coming here again." The pastor then began to call to contact her and Young told him, "she [Hancock] would appreciate it if neither he nor any member of his church contacted her ever again." The church on December 8th issued a letter indicating they would move on to the third stage of discipline (tell it to the church) in January if she hadn't resolved the issue. At which point Miss Hancock concerned that her 18 and 20 year children who were members of the church would be embarrased by a public revelation in church took the issue public by telling Fox News (see Fox News Story). Since then it has spread to various Christian and secular sites.
OK so lets look at the legalities here. First off there is no legal right to confidentiality here (see Penley v. Westbrook), and again I'd caution readers that saying something in church waives legal right to privacy with very few exceptions. On the other hand it appears there was an expectation of privacy in the mentor relationship and it appears either the mentor did a bad job or the membership class didn't address the issue of discipline well enough. The membership class should have explained to Miss Hancock that she was joining a discipling church. Miss Hancock's statements to Fox seem to indicate genuine shock and total ignorance of the discipline proess. That being said nothing in the letter seems unusual for 3rd phase discipline.
The only issue here is whether she is still a member. She has seemed to indicate a desire to permanently sever all relations with the church, and her boyfriend is unequivocal that she no longer regards herself in a pastoral relationship with Grace Community Church. Further she is now active in another church and refers to herself as "no longer a member" (see news 4 story). The news story isn't specific enough for me to know for show whether she has qualified in leaving the church under church law (see how to leave a church) or whether her transfer with irregularities was conducted properly. But I would say that her statements were so strong that under secular law she most certainly did sever her relationship and had they "told it to the church" Grace could be subject to a civil suit (see Guinn v. Church Christ of Collinville). However, at this point she converted herself into a news story so the civil issue dealing with slander is dead.
It is hard to make many more conclusions because Fox News didn't dig. I'm not sure how clearly discipline is explained in the membership class. I would have to say that for a woman who is concerned about the embarrassment of being publicly outed, presenting her story to the national press, seems odd. That is, I don't quite understand how she believes revelation in the national media is going to be less difficult for her children, so her expressed rationale could have been better probed. Still, I applaud her becoming cause of her life rather than an effect. Having taken that attitude earlier would have killed the discipline outright, i.e. taking ownership via. a letter of termination likely would have given her the same level of control without the need of national press coverage. Its also unclear how the transfer / membership termination process got so botched up.
I would go to every meeting.
Sit in the front.
After 5 months - talk to the elders who were on your committee - tell them how sorry you are and how you want "jahs" blessing and love back. How you can't believe you let god down.... bla bla.
If they say its too soon. Rinse and repeat in 4 months.
The Elders have gotten lots of council to NOT reinstate people early. So its a waiting game.
This is you want back in.
I was never an elder so I could be wrong, but something tells me that the typical BOE might not look so kindly upon you reporting this "exemplary" MS. You, are DFed (and are not to be mourned and are to be viewed as having been killed by Jehovah, according to a recent WT study) and you're a lowly weaker vessel. Making a choice between you and one of their own isn't going to be difficult for them. Once they decide that your information isn't worth acting on they'll then have to sort out a punishment for you for bringing it to them in the first place. It might not be a conscious decision to punish you for it, but given the paranoid nature of the cult I wouldn't be surprised if they "circle the wagons" and make sure you don't get reinstated because you now are seen as having a tendency to try to "cause divisions" or slander men in authority. You've absolutely got the deck stacked against you here.
Whether you move to a different congregation or not, I have no idea. Maybe someone who's an elder can give you some advice there as to whether there's any time penalty for getting reinstated in another congregation. If not, you'd probably have a better chance of getting reinstated if you can win over elders that don't know you and are starting fresh and get them to recommend you for reinstatement vs trying to win over elders that already have a bad opinion of you.