Tell us about your early life as a JW.
Being a JW was so normal to my family. I was 4th Generation on one side, 5th on the other.
My entire world was being a JW. I didn’t know anything different.
It was a happy time. All my extended family were JW and our entire social network.
How would you describe your family life while you were a JW?
We were happy. My parents were ex-special pioneers. They quit when they started a family. My dad initially was a window-cleaner but eventually became a sales manager, a good one. My Mom was a stay at home mom. We were provided for extremely well, and were completely happy. Our house was always an “open house” for our friends, and our friends liked coming over – especially the “orphans” who were living away from home to attend one of the colleges in our city.
My parents were pretty lax, and by JW standards pretty liberal. We never had a curfew in our teen years, as long as they knew where we were and who we were with.
My father has always been an elder, he is still the COBE of their congregation. He was all in, always on one committee or another, always had talks at assemblies/conventions and used to have various responsibilities in the circuit. Whenever there was a JC appeal committee in the country, he was on it. He was well respected as an elder and pretty easy going.
How would you describe your level of devotion to the organization prior to waking?
Marginal, at best. I did what was required. I turned in time, took care of “responsibilities” as they came up (microphones, sound desk at the KH and Assemblies, literature/magazines etc). I was pretty open and liberal and from when I was about 19 and at college never told anyone I was a JW. This was the same when I started working.
If baptized, why did you decide to take that step? If not, why not?
I was 12. Everyone else was doing it, why shouldn’t I? It was way too young and probably my only regret in life.
If born-in, what kind of Jehovah’s Witnesses were / are your family?
They were not hardcore. We always went on vacations and would skip meetings. We were never pushed into pioneering or anything like that. The reality was, being a JW was who we were, not what we were. We stretched back many generations and our entire family were JW’s. It was our reality, and we always lived in that reality.
Was your waking up journey sudden or gradual? Describe it for us.
It was pretty gradual. I don’t think I actually gave it much thought growing up. Meetings and service were just things that we did. When I went to university, I was hit in my first lecture about the importance of critical analysis. It was from here that I started looking at the WT studies with a more critical eye.
Then, when I was researching my graduate thesis, I suddenly realized how it was all a sham. The GB were using the same scriptures to justify their existence as all other theocratic governments and movements. It was from here that I mentally left.
Did you ever have so-called “doubts”? If so, what were they?
The GT and Armageddon always scared me, it didn’t fill me with faith – it filled me with fear. I hated the thought of it happening. I doubted that god could be capable of doing such an awful thing.
Did you share your so-called “doubts” with anyone, and if so, how did it turn out?
Not really – I knew that was the road to a judicial committee.
Are you currently being shunned / ostracized by any Jehovah’s Witnesses?
Yes, even though we are not DF’d, both my wife and I have been shunned or cut off from friends. Not as many as I thought, but still some have cut us loose. I’m OK with it.
What has changed in your life since waking up?
A lot. I am far more critical of everything, I don’t take things at face value. I also don’t have time for people that annoy me or frustrate me. I spent so long in the org being nice to people because it was “the thing to do”. This may not sound like a good thing, however I realized we only have one life to live, so why waste it on people that you don’t like.
From a work/career perspective, not a lot has changed. I was always pretty career focused – I suppose now I look for opportunities that would have been frowned upon as a JW and push myself to find new opportunities where as before, if a job let me get to meetings and out on service…it was good enough.
What does the future hold for you now that you’re awake?
It’s looking bright. We have a happy marriage, and a good life together. We’re always open to new things. The fact is, we don’t know what the future holds and are OK with it. We don’t have to “put jehovah first” but can put ourselves first.
What would you like to say to doubting or questioning JWs who might be reading this?
Every day on the doors, when preaching – we are asking the householders to question their beliefs. Do the same, take a step back and really examine your beliefs. Look at other sources, not just the books from the society. If you still believe – great!
But if you have doubts, don’t bury them. Examine them deeper – you are not doing anything wrong.
What would you like to say to still-in believing-JW family and or friends who might come across this?
I respect your right to continue believing – please respect mine not to believe. I think the Awake of ’09 sums it up nicely.
“No one should be forced to worship in a way that he finds unacceptable or be made to choose between his beliefs and his family.” Awake! 2009 Jul p.29
Do you have anything else to share?
Don’t eat yellow snow.