From N in Australia
just saying hello and showing appreciation for your website, especially the section for ex-jw’s. i am an eighteen-year old female from australia and have not been to a meeting for a couple of years, since my mother got disfellowshipped.
i was hurt and disgusted by the way these ‘christians’, whom i had grown up believing were the best and only friends i would ever have, treated this beautiful, good-hearted, hardworking woman who continually gave everything she had for members of the congregation who were in need, for jehovah himself, for the harmony of her family and the wellbeing of her children. she lived patiently under one roof with the ‘family head’ who is an emotionally dead, selfish workaholic, who constantly put religion and prestige within the congregation before family. (one of his first questions on an early study with a brother: ‘so when do i become an elder?’) seventeen years later and my father is currently a ministerial servant and perhaps well on his way to being an elder, which will mean further lack of appearances in the family home. good luck to him, may he sleep at night.
i am losing my very best friend, a lovely boheme with a beautiful nature and some of my most beloved memories. we met when i moved south and went to the first meeting in the new area, we were thirteen. i have visited her every year since i left the area, and every year she sees how i have ‘strayed’ – i never excommunicated myself nor was i disfellowshipped, just stopped going to meetings. last time i got a tearful lecture about how i have to be there in the end, and if i dont make time for jehovah he wont make time for me. she seemed shocked by my offhand self-pity and i could feel her withdrawing emotionally as we spoke. i think about her every day, and miss her as one does such an influential and lovely part of their childhood.
these days i have regained most of my self-worth. i guess being young and resilient helps.
i understand that a god who is love cannot intend for his one true organization to plague earnest followers with guilt all their waking human hours. i understand that god cannot be love and at the same time influence an organization to punish good people by depriving them of fellowship, respect, and the basic human dignity of a polite ‘hello’ from old, old friends. i no longer feel anger when my mother averts her eyes or leaves a shop without explanation, but pity the misguided people on the other end of the stern, self-righteous glances. i can look them in the eye and smile with warmth instead of insolence.
because i have a wonderful boyfriend of three years, a younger brother who i am assisting in his recovery, a divorced, spurned and broken but growing mother who i will always look after and love; and all they have is a household full of tension and lies. ‘stumble’ that. – N
Once you’ve recognized the disconnect between the words and the lack of kindness that’s really there, it’s hard to ignore ever again.
It’s funny how we can put up with all sorts of things aimed at ourselves, but when people we love are hurt, that’s when it really hits home.
Since you won’t hear it elsewhere (unless you are very very fortunate), I would like to praise you for rallying your heart to the defense of others, for supporting and helping your brother, and especially for being there for your mom. You have work to do. This is a different kind of service – it’s all about caring.
We see the results of control by fear… that capacity for care and compassion and love gradually ebbs away. You can’t live in fear and continue to build a house of love – fear always leads to – and I think is a part of – hate.
With you, I reject the notion that a god of love would have intended that. JWs don’t talk much about grace (loving-kindness?) and they don’t talk about Jesus’ message of love and forgiveness, seeing god in the face of the other – even prostitutes and – eek! – tax collectors.
Like many of the neo-conservative right wingers here in the US, JWs rely on the texts concerning the tribal war god YHWH. And they don’t do it very well, as any rabbi could tell you.
I am proud of you for stepping out, for seeking the unique path and set of questions that have everything to do with the way you fit into the cosmos and nothing to do with the free sales force of a publishing empire based in Brooklyn New York.
By their own dogma, they are bloodguilty. They have been a stumbling block to the faithful.
Even more important, really – you have already grown spiritually to the point where you can smile with warmth, modelling the behavior that is better, feeling the difference deep inside. I know you feel the difference.
Sometimes it helps so much just to know that other people out there “get it.” Feel free to write to me anytime. Please give your mother and brother a few extra hugs. As you’ve learned, caring matters.