“You are now as dead to us”
At home, life was not so rosy. There were frequent arguments between my parents. Once my mother left the house for six months, even writing a letter of disassociation. Later she returned to my dad and the Organisation. I will never forget the announcement of her being reinstated and the tears of genuine joy from the members as they were relieved they could finally talk to her again. No one thought it was a loving provision to be shunned by those you love nor to shun those you love. That was the view of a large number of those in the hall at that time. Still, during all this we were expected to be good Witnesses. I never told anyone in school about that. I started seeing a counsellor due to all the stress that I was undergoing.
Later, in my mid teens, I started to internally criticise the Bible. Seeing instances of nepotism, narcissistic behaviours, and how God was more lenient to King David than the Watchtower was towards its followers, I began to question the “truth” I was being taught. At the same time, I was looking for my dad’s approval, so I began heading in the direction of baptism. Though the elders found me to be knowledgeable enough regarding Watchtower doctrine, they stopped me on the grounds of my “worldly association”. I had worldly associations because I was learning guitar but no one in the Kingdom Hall would teach me, even though was three people who played: one being a single brother, another a married ministerial servant and the other a single sister. For obvious reasons, the sister would not be permitted to teach me. I cannot say I am upset that they refused my baptism.
After all the abuse in the family home, from name calling, to be being beaten up beyond what was reasonable discipline, I left the family home when I was nearly 17. I began attending the Kingdom Hall local to me but my dad soon reported that I had left the Jehovah’s Witnesses. And that was it: I thought I might as well not bother. With the report that I was no longer a Jehovah’s Witness, the shunning initiated. My dad looked at me and said, “Your mother and I have grieved for you, you are now as dead to us”. I was alone. I was condemned to eternal death and my own parents had turned away from me. I had no one to turn to.
I made friends outside the confines of the Watchtower and Jehovah’s Witnesses. I got caught up in smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol heavily, smoking marijuana and taking methamphetamines to numb my mental pain. At the age of 20, with the help of friends, I stopped the drugs. I started attending a kingdom hall again, as Jehovah’s Witness churches are known. I eventually was baptized. I did so because I needed to believe that I was saveable – not condemned to death and unloved by God.
I had always had “gifts” that were not explained by Jehovah’s Witnesses. These gifts were said to be “Demonic” in nature. If practicing good works were not enough, and even accepting “Deliverance Ministry” had not relieved me of them, then where did these “gifts” fit in? Surely the Devil was not stronger than God? It took me many years to overcome religious dogma and realize that I have to stop lying to myself and embrace who I am. Who am I? Like hundreds of other ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses, I am discovering through research, that I am a Pagan. A pagan is a person who practices alternative beliefs and who was very likely “called to the path” rather than “chose the path”.
Today my parents are divorced and are no longer Jehovah’s Witnesses. Sadly, the scars remain and we cannot and do not function as a normal family. We have tried, but it just doesn’t seem to work:
- How does a man trust his father knowing, had he required a blood transfusion as a boy, his dad would have let him die?
- How does a man trust his parents knowing that like Abraham they were ready to kill him had Jehovah said so?
These are the scars that remain along with knowing that all that you were brought up to believe was just a lie.
Story submitted by Richard Thrift, January 14, 2015.
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