Quite often I am surpised at how my JW thinking still controls me without my knowledge. And the stark differences between the JW idea of "christianity" and idea of "christianity" displayed by the church I now attend.
I work in a children's ministry music program . I've been doing it for two years now, and this week I was reading an e-mail I was cc'd on where the ministry leader explained that the policy of the church is for anyone involved in leadership to be a member, or working towards membership. Although I have now been attending regularly for over three years, and have been baptised, I've never moved towards membership. I just can't - the thought of it brings up way too many bad feelings. JW's always misquote that scripture in John saying Peter's response was "where shall we go?" - when in fact it's "to WHO shall we go". I feel that membership in any religious organization is not necessary - it's not about WHERE we go to worship, but WHO we worship. Becoming a "member" to me just kind of feels like I'm right back in an alliegance to an earthly organization and I CAN'T do that again.
I was so bummed - I was convinced that I'd have to remove myself from this ministry that I love so much because...well...it's POLICY, and we all know how policy and rules are handled by JW's - NO EXCEPTIONS, NO QUESTIONS ASKED. So - without question, I assumed that was the way it always was. I wrote a long e-mail to the ministry leader explaining my feelings and just decided to accept whatever decision was made.
To my suprise - she contacted me within an hour and said "don't worry about it. - we made an exception for you". I was confused - EXCEPTION - what do you mean EXEPTION? She explained that rules are necessary as a general standard or you end up with chaos - but they're not a legalistic church. They don't live by rules - they live by grace. She had asked the pastor what his thoughts were and he said the rule wasn't as important as the heart.
Then she made a comment that really blew me away - she said their standard was "if you're going to err...err on the side of grace".
WOW! What a different concept of christianity - and here I was still thinking legalistic like a JW and mad at myself for not being able to follow a rule instead. Whether or not you believe in christianity - I think it's helpful to recognize the difference between the JW view of it and what it really SHOULD be.
So - how many of us would still be JW's had we been shown grace - if the elders had said "if you're going to err...err on the side of grace"?
It's easy for me now to say I still wouldn't be a JW - but honestly, had I been shown grace, I probably would have stayed. Then again - I would never have experienced the wonderful freedom I now have and have been able to grow so much emotionally AND intellectually.
Dawn (from the "needs a lot of grace" class)