A post on another thread got me to thinking and writing.
Should we even be trying to get our loved ones out of Jehovah's Witnesses?
When a person truly believes in their belief system, or even if they don't but have held to that system for a long time, there is NOTHING we can say that will move them from that system.
Why? Perhaps pride. Perhaps fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of social isolation.
For an older JW such as my mom, I suspect this is the case. She was baptized in 1970, at the height of the 1975 fearmongering. Two JW special pioneers came to her door in Juneau, Alaska. She lived in a small apartment, with two little boys, me age 3, and my younger brother who was a newborn. My dad was in the Coast Guard, so mom was by herself a LOT. Age 26, no cable, no internet back then. Phone service to talk to family long distance would have been prohibitively expensive. Maybe a neighbor to talk to, but that was it.
So to be offered to have adult company for an hour or more a week, talking about deep topics, was probably, in my mom's eyes, a relief. My mom studied with that couple multiple times a week for hours each time. Not just the old Truth book. But the Babylon the Great book. She rapidly progressed and went to the Kingdom Hall which, conveniently for her since she did not drive, was right down the street. Her social circle widened, and she was baptized. Now she had purpose.
My dad soon joined her. An unwise decision for his career and their finances, but he left the military (technically Department of Transportation back then). They moved back to his hometown in the lower 48 in the midwest and was baptized in 1971.
I will shorten this for now, but it provides the motivating factor of why my 75 year old mom remains a JW. My dad died in 1994, short of his 60th birthday. She was just shy of 51, a year younger than I am now.
She remarries out of the Truth, moves to Florida, new instant circle of JW friends, just add Watchtower. Her husband eventually retires, they move to a rural town in southern Alabama. New Kingdom Hall, new instant circle of JW friends, just add Watchtower again.
Here is the rub. Even if she knows in her heart it is all BS, if she left now, she would be back where she started: 1970, all alone, this time no little kids to care for, just a husband who is disabled, but for now somewhat active. But no other human interaction. Cable, internet, and cheap phone calls to family go only so far. Learning to build genuine friendships, when for nearly 50 years all you had to do for friends was have the commonality of Watchtower to have instant circles of friends, would be nearly impossible.
All of that to say, it would be extremely cruel on my part to in any way discourage my 75 year old mom from staying the couse, faithful to the end, even if that faith in my eyes is misplaced. It gives her purpose.
When my mom regular pioneered last year for the first time, and got to go to pioneer school, she was excited and exhausted. I encouraged her to only keep doing it if she still enjoyed it and it did not ruin her health. She did it for one year, then stopped this past September. Now, she and my stepdad vacation, at timeshares unfortunately, but at least they can while their health holds.
I consider myself fortunate. I still have somewhat of a relationship with my mom. I see her once a year. We talk on the phone periodically. I am rebuilding and reconnecting with her non JW family, whom we were basically isolated from for decades. I spent 2 hours on the phone with her sister, my aunt, yesterday. I look forward to calling my cousin and getting to know him.
I left the clutches of Watchtower in 2007. I haven't set foot in a Kingdom Hall since August of that year. I served that organization, and I thought God, from my baptism in 1983 at age 16, until I was removed as an elder in December 2006. I had been deeply involved, as a regular pioneer, MS, elder, MTS graduate, Assembly Hall volunteer, Regional Building volunteer, temp at Bethel, Patient Visitation Group, and other activities. All of that cost me education, careers, financial stability, genuine love, happiness.
Yet, do you think anyone could have convinced me then that it was all BS? I had doubts in 1991 over chronology doctrines, and again in 1995 over the Generation teaching, along with abuse from within by those who were jealous of my success in the Organization, and prevented or delayed many of the goals I had set for myself
I now have a loving non JW wife. We have been together 9 years, married 7. I adopted her son, now 17, a couple of years ago. Graduating high school this month, a semester early. His whole life ahead of him, I envy where he is in life.
I did go back to college, while still an elder, got two Associates degrees. Finished after I left Watchtower. My career path is different than my education, but it was my first college course, in Ethics, that finally broke me free of that organization.
NOT someone from the ex JW community, though this forum has been a lifeline. It took a college professor, who had no idea of my religious background, to influence my thinking. We never know what will break through to our loved ones still trapped inside.
NEVER GIVE UP. BE THERE FOR THEM WHEN THEY ARE READY. Because unlike Watchtower, out here, there are no instant friends.
Snakesinthetower (Rich, of the "Patiently waiting for mom to wake up" Sheep Class)