Born to Jehovah's Witness parents in 1981, my parents raised me the best way they knew how, with my siblings' and my best interests at heart. I got baptized in 1997 at the age of 16, and though it technically was voluntary, there was a lot of internal pressure to do it, and a lot of responsibility that no 16-year-old could ever be prepared to live up to. I was disfellowshipped for the first time in 2001 as a result of being an honest-hearted person who came forward to heed James 5:14-16 (which reads, 14 Is there anyone sick among YOU? Let him call the older men of the congregation to [him], and let them pray over him, greasing [him] with oil in the name of Jehovah. 15 And the prayer of faith will make the indisposed one well, and Jehovah will raise him up. Also, if he has committed sins, it will be forgiven him.) I was disfellowshipped for trying to make things right with Jehovah and ensure I'd be in paradise with my family after making honest human mistakes. The elders that time told me they knew I was repentant, but they had to make an example out of me. I don't see that anywhere in the Holy Scriptures. I was reinstated in 2001, six months later. I was publicly reproved in 2002 for coming forward voluntarily yet again, disfellowshipped in 2003 (this set of elders told me that I was a repeat offender and had to be disfellowshipped because of my track record - do you remember the first time what I was told? If they had shown me mercy and reproved me, repentant that they knew I was, I would not have been a repeat offender), reinstated in 2005 (after writing and pleading and meeting with elders over a dozen times and cutting off all association with everyone, living in complete solitude and battling a very deep and very scary depression). My mom and dad, though they are wonderful people, are unable to understand where I'm coming from because of the fear of what that understanding implicates. I understand this needs to be The Truth for them. I believe with all my heart and soul that our religion almost killed me. I'm done with the mind games, I'm done with the man-made rules, I'm done with the judgment, I'm done with the conditional love. I have to hope that one day Mom and Dad will decide to just love me as their daughter, regardless of what my belief system is, regardless of what their belief system is. That's what I believe Christ Jesus would do if he were in their position. I believe I'm a wonderful person, someone they would be proud of if they knew me. I'm proud of me.