Ask A Former JW – Your Question, My Response
I am a real confused person right now. I used to attend the Local kingdom hall of jehovah’s witnesses. It was something my mother had us doing off and on for years. Anyway, I recently fell in love and moved in with a boyfriend in another state. My mom pleaded with me that I continue and that what I was doing was a bad idea. But about a year ago I had my feelings hurt at the kingdom hall because I was suppose to get a surgery done and so when I asked for support from the witnesses concerning blood, they acted as if they didn’t care and did not want to support me because I was not baptised. I really love God Heidi and I believe strongly in the bible, but I just don’t know if I should stay with the witnesses. My boyfriend says quit, but everytime I try to I feel guilty, like I’m doing God a great dis-service. What should I do?
Dear K- I wish I had a magic wand to wave over you and make it all better! Unfortunately, I can’t tell you what to do, since any decision like that has to come from within. I am not sure whether your living with your boyfriend has any relationship in your mind with the way you were not embraced and supported in your Kingdom Hall or not? I suspect not, so I’ll continue on that assumption.
Let me be clear. You cannot stay with the Witnesses because your mother wants you to stay, and you cannot leave because your boyfriend wants you to leave. This is about you, and your own faith and relation to the divine power. Decisions on navigating your spiritual path can only come from your own heart and mind and spirit. This is one mistake that Jehovah’s Witnesses make (but they aren’t alone in this) – the idea of imposing outside authority on spiritual growth. Any decision you make solely on the basis of someone else’s desire cannot be a real or authentic decision.
Of course there are a lot of really complicated issues here. I am sure that your discontent has more than one reason, and so does your feeling of guilt. But if you want advice, here it is.
Stop to think and feel – what is is that attracts you or repels you about the Witnesses. In what way does what others say affect your thoughts on this? What is your relationship with your boyfriend like? What is your relationship with others like? What is your faith about – how is it real to you? I mean, real to you. What do you really admire spiritually in others and why?
Try imagining different scenarios. How would you judge your own situation from a different perspective? If your life was a movie, how would you judge it? If your best friend were in the same situation, what would you tell her? How about your child? How about your enemy? Really think it through. When you understand as much as you can about how you would feel if it were someone else, you can get a pretty good sense of how you really judge it yourself.
If you believe in God, and you believe that the collection of writings called the Bible is true, then you need to explore a little deeper there too. What exactly do you feel called to do, what do you feel called to be in response to that faith? Pray for guidance – pray to a God that loves you and wants only the best for you, a God that is compassionate and loving and accepting of you. Don’t believe something just because it is convenient, but don’t believe something just because you’ve been trained to believe it.
I can’t give you a course in miracles or anything like that. There are terrific spiritual resources all around you – knowledge and communities and groups and examples and even web sites. And I am sure that there is a Kingdom Hall near where you live – why not stop by and see how you feel about it now? I’m not unbiased on the topic – I say get away from that pseudo-religion that is so destructive to people – but that’s just my opinion. It may not be yours. In all fairness, you can’t really judge any religion by the callousness of a few people in one congregation. I don’t know many groups of people who are flawless (grin).
Best to you, and I hope this helps a little – even if it is just to remind you of the location of your compass.