I was raised as a JW, born into it as a matter of fact. I remember through elementary school always being sick on the days of holiday parties because I didn’t want to have to go sit in the school office while the other kids were having their party. I remember telling my mom when I was 5 or 6 years old that I didn’t want to be a JW. Well let’s just say we had a long study in the Great Teacher book (the pepto bismol colored book) about why I DID want to be a JW. When I got into Junior high I started leading my “double life.” I had one “worldly” friend that I was allowed to hang out with because her grandparents were witnesses and she went over their every weekend and had a scheduled bible study. The person assigned to study with her was also assigned to study with me, and she would try to play us against each other to get us to tell her what we were doing at school and what not. My best friend and I were on to her and we managed to tell her things that made her happy but in the other since we were making our families happy.
When I was 16 I was still living the double life, sneaking out seeing boys and everything that went along with that. Well I ended up pregnant. My parents immediately decided I would be home schooled from that point forward. And for fear of being kicked out I did everything my parents asked. Including, not contacting the father so there would be no worldly influence on the baby. I of course had to go in front of the elders even though I wasn’t even a publisher (I forgot to mention that part of my rebellion was denouncing my status as a publisher, I was still forced to go door to door but I would not speak to anyone, this infuriated my dad). But I met with the elders and they had me believing that I had committed a horrible sin and brought such reproach to my family’s name. My father stepped down as an elder. He was told he should not comment at the meetings anymore because of what I had done. He was so hurt, I felt the least I could do was make an effort to make that better for him. So I threw myself into bible study. 1 month after my son was born, I was baptized. I was so sick that day. I knew the only reason I was doing this was to please my parents. I love them so much that I would do anything for them. 6 months later I met my first husband. He was in the military, a Navy man (my father was an ex marine, they didn’t click to say the least). I ran off to California to get married. I was not disfellowshipped because I had not committed any sin. But I was “Marked” privately with another meeting to the elders letting them know that I had not committed fornication.
The marriage to my first husband ended up being one of the biggest mistakes of my life (just short of getting baptized for the wrong reasons). When I got to California my parents got in touch with the local congregation and had them contact me immediately. Funny, I was 3,000 miles away from my parents and I still felt so obligated to please them. I went to the meetings, though not as regular as I should, I was pregnant almost immediately after I got married. My Husband, was very abusive though, not because of the meetings, just because I guess we were young and that was his background. Eventually his abuse got so bad he took it out on my 2 year old son. After that happened I high tailed it home to my mom and dad. The elders there “encouraged” me to go home and work it out with my husband. In this case I did not have “scriptural” grounds to divorce. So I did what I was told and went home to the husband. When I got home he promised me he had received counseling and that would never happen again. He stayed true to his word and never hit my son or daughter again. But he did decide he could hit me and do whatever he wanted to including rape. I quit going to the kingdom hall because I was very depressed about where I was in my life. I finally left my ex-husband. But still very depressed from it. My father told me to call the elders, they could help me is what he said. So as obedient as ever I picked up the phone and asked for a meeting with them. They told me in this meeting my husband had told them I was committing adultery (which wasn’t true) and they needed to investigate this. He wasn’t even a witness. I couldn’t believe it! So I told them my story of abuse and rape.. And this was their comment to me and I will remember it for as long as I live “You are married, you can not be raped by your mate, and what are you doing that provokes him to hit you?” I was in shock and didn’t know what to say. They counseled me on how to be a better wife, prayed and dismissed me. About 2 weeks later I moved home to my mom and dad for help with the kids. My husband filed for divorce. By the way he was living with his girlfriend at the time.
I did not go to the KH for a while. Then the rules set in, I was living under my parents roof therefore I would be at the KH. So not having anywhere to go and trying to support 2 small children I did what they told me. This went on for several years. But I was back to my “Double life” even at a legal age I was afraid of disappointing my parents.
5 years later I met my now husband Dave. He lived up north and me in Tennessee. How was I going to marry another unbeliever? I mean according to the elders and parents my first marriage was a prime example you shouldn’t marry out of the “truth”. So true to form, I made up a lie on why I was moving up north. I couldn’t bare the look of disappointment on my dad’s face.
About this time I was questioning the validity of “the truth” so much and a friend was telling me all about Ray Franz and how the end of the world had been predicted by the Society and they kept changing it and now they just deny it completely. So I started researching trying to understand this stuff I was hearing. I was five when you left the Organization Randy so figure in ’98 how hard it was finding the materials you talked about that had all this proof. They had discontinued use of the Aid Book even. It wasn’t even in the Kingdom Hall Library. But it was keeping me up at nights the stuff I was reading on the internet. I was so confused and really upset. I called you about 6 years ago and said “I think I am leaving, what do I do? Do I go to Church? Do I start celebrating Christmas? Once I leave what do I do?” You would think it would be so simple to make the decision. It’s not.
Randy you gave me the best advice. You told me to take my time read the bible for myself not to ask a religion to explain it to me. I didn’t take your advice. I figured if I was going to do it I had to do it full force. So when I moved up north I found a church and jumped right into the holidays. My plan was just to ignore the religion and it would just go away, well ummm let's just say that didn't happen. My dad who is an elder, who had been removed a couple of times before because of my unbefitting conduct, called the congregation here and had them in touch with me immediately….I had not even finished unpacking and these people were calling me. I still just tried to avoid them, then it came out that I was living with Dave (my husband now). My dad again called the elders to have them set up a meeting with me, I got really upset by this and ended up telling the elders they would just have to disfellowship me because I was not meeting with them. I wasn’t one who really cared about the announcement. But I also was not in a town where anybody new me. Shortly after that I learned I was pregnant but I was in the midst of a miscarriage. I couldn't even call my mother for comfort. But life went on. Of course it went on with a sincere hate for God and the Jehovah's Witnesses.
Okay skip ahead 4 years. I had a baby boy :) and he ended up being pretty sick he had a chronic lung disorder but no body could tell me what it was or if it was fatal. I ended up having a conversation with a lady that helped me to see that religion isn't accepting Jesus. Your words came back to me that night. Long story short, she prayed with me that night and I asked Jesus into my heart. My life has never been the same. My son has grown out of this lung disorder and is perfectly healthy. I don't concern myself with what has been lost between me and my family. I have found a church that I am very comfortable in and I do not feel as if I am being forced to proclaim a religion.
Today I am happily married, with 3 Children. I train my children to have a love for god and they are really good kids. Imagine that, they aren’t JW’s and they really are good kids! It still hurts that my parents don’t talk to me. But I know that they will be forgiven for that, because that is what God is about Forgiveness not condemnation.