The last month was a whirlwind for me as I really celebrated Christmas more than ever. Sure, no big deal to most people and not an event that stirs much emotion in some but it was a joy to me that had not really been contemplated nor enjoyed to this extent. Most of that joy derived from being with people I care about and love, not the celebration of the holiday itself. That aspect is something still quite foreign to me and not of much consequence at all, probably never will be to me. But, that means I can spend more time being emotional with family and those I love.
Time with the family was never really a major encouragement with Jehovah’s Witnesses. Sure, they were urged to take care of them and to be there but most of the time the literature and talks focused on doing all and everything for God…now. Spend all of your time in study of the Bible and especially their literature, in the ministry telling others , and in preparing for meetings and giving talks,etc. Yes, that was and is the primary life offered and demanded of JW’s. For some people, this is what they want. A structured and disciplined (albeit some say forced) way of life that keeps them busy and “out of trouble”. Yet, to be “in trouble” it hints that unless busy one gets up to no good and that anything less than detailed and minutely observed devotion to God is less than acceptable. As a JW, I felt that everything I did was scrutinized and watched. That spies were constantly watching for me to f**k up so I could be reported to the elders or gossiped about. Reminds me of the Nazi era and how they wanted neighbors to spy on each other. Therefore, I was really being careful not to do anything so I wouldn’t become a statistic and hurt my parents or their reputation more than following their stringent set of rules. I didn’t want to live a life where all I could do was study the scriptures, go door to door, give lectures on a stage in front of a hundred others every week. And, not be “allowed” to participate in so much this world had to offer. Unless, that activity was only sanctioned by the old fellas in the ivory towers back east in New York and the antiquarian and puritanical ways they themselves grew up with.
Feeling as I did, these things eventually weighed me down to a considerable degree that when I got married in 1994, I continued the same mind and body numbing activity…trudging along this path to remain “pure” and worthy. Ugh. I had a chance to disconnect from this life and didn’t. So, it wasn’t until 2008 I made the break, especially after their child sex abuse records came to my attention and also after personal dealings with this in my own congregation. I was done. But, you know this from past sessions so no need to bore with those details.
Some things that I notice have changed within their organization and way of life are quite different. Rarely do I see any of them preaching door to door, not even having them visit the apt complex I live in for many years. Nobody on the streets, in the downtown core holding magazines nor really being visible. Perhaps that’s due to the Internet and electronic communication and it’s ease of use. Which brings to mind that issue…the internet. We were always admonished to keep away from the web as it contained so many bad influences. So do books yet we still read them. Oh wait…we could only read THEIR books. I forgot. Seriously though, they have now embraced the internet fully with their Jw.org link and it is even promoted outside every building they own with a metal placard in blue. Talk about advertising and a complete turn around from the past.
As this new year of 2016 begins and many of those past JW memories fade away, I progress in as positive and enlightened manner possible, doing the best I can to be a good man, loving, kind and compassionate. And I want to be HAPPY!! Yes, that word. The word that was drummed into our heads as kids as a goal to reach for. Well, NOW I am happy to say I’m happy. How’s that for an ending to this session!