.: ANNE MARIE
I was that young and pretty sister you might have seen at the Kingdom Hall. You know, the one with “all those kids.” The one who struggled to raise her children in “The Truth” alone. The one who was rarely considered as “wife material” because she was “damaged goods.” After all, “No one is going to want you and all your burdens!” as it was put to me by a well-meaning pioneer sister.
Like many of you, I was raised from a tender age to be a Jehovah’s Witness. I truly loved Jehovah all my life. I loved my Brothers and Sisters, and I truly believed that IT (the Watchtower Organization) was “THE Truth.” I grew up in San Francisco, during the Vietnam War, the Black Panthers, riots, protests, and the “Hippie” movement, and I became disillusioned with “the truth,” leaving it at age fifteen, since I believed Jehovah God was going to “kill me anyway” because I would never be “good enough.” Also, I was sick of the gossip, the judgments, and the fear of Armageddon…which was always “just around the corner.” But pregnant with my fourth child at nineteen, (after my children’s father had walked out on us in late 1974), the Jehovah’s Witnesses asked me, “How can you let your children die just because you don’t want to live up to Jehovah's righteous requirements? Do you REALLY want your children’s blood on your hands?”
The Watchtower had been preaching, ever since the summer of 1966, that Armageddon (God’s future battle to end all worldly governments) was coming NO LATER than the autumn of 1975. Today, Jehovah’s Witnesses try to deny this false prophecy ever happened, but I know this is true because I was at the Watchtower Convention in the summer of 1966 when this newest “Armageddon prediction” was announced, along with the book, Life Everlasting In Freedom of The Sons of God. According to the speaker, this book PROVED that “this time” the Watchtower Society had gotten the date for Armageddon right. The speaker told us that the Watchtower had provided a full five-page chronological chart in the first chapter of the book proving they were right! Yes!! I remember this well, and I remember the excitement throughout the crowd as each witness scrambled to buy their copies and quickly gathered in groups to examine the chart. (Click HERE for complete photocopied documentation from Watchtower publications regarding the 1975 false prophecy.)
So after those sisters had made me think that Jehovah was going to kill my children unless I joined the Watchtower Religion, I threw myself into meeting attendance and study of the Watchtower literature. I forced myself to knock on doors in order to preach the Watchtower warning of the impending Armageddon, and studied even more; all in an effort to “please Jehovah,” because I did not want Jehovah to kill my children. Yes, against my better judgment, I went back to the Watchtower Organization and raised my five children “in the truth.” I was a single mother, very poor, who was gossiped about without restraint. I saw my persecution, and the Brother’s ignoring of my “Fatherless Children,” as “Satan’s way of trying to turn me away from Jehovah.” I felt that Jehovah had given me “another chance,” and I tried my best to be a “good” Jehovah’s Witness. I stayed through many difficult and lonely years. I use to wonder, “What is wrong with me?” because I just wasn’t “happy,” as I knew I was “supposed” to be. I use to cry and pray to Jehovah to help me to be a “good witness.” I thought that something was very wrong with my little family because we were not as the families were represented on the platform at the assemblies.
I had many occasions to experience some very “un-Christian” behavior and persecution. For example, I noticed that I seemed to be “on the block” a lot (people talking about me behind my back…the gossip was just awful), and one sister explained to me that because I was not married, (i.e., did not have the “status” of being a married sister…as I had no husband to “protect” me), they considered me “free game” for their gossip. I attributed all my problems with the Brothers as “my test” from Satan, and I stayed. But I really believe that Jehovah finally “forced” me out of the organization in 1986 to save my life, as by that point, all the “life” I had had, had long ago drained out of me. (I was an “automaton.”)
Even from early 1975, when I was first studying to re-join the Jehovah’s Witnesses, I had truly never felt “right” about them, but since I had been told that Satan would do anything to get me to leave Jehovah by leaving the Watchtower, I had attributed all my doubtful feelings to my own “wickedness,” and Satan’s tactics. So, I stuffed my doubt, studied harder, and I hoped that my doubtful feelings would change. They didn’t.
I finally confessed, after more than two years of studying with my teacher, that I just didn’t feel “right” about joining…making the commitment, and getting baptized into the Watchtower Religion. She said to me, “Well, you already know “it’s” the truth. Jehovah has done everything to show His patience to you. Maybe He is waiting for you to show Him that you are willing to take a stand; just show Him that you are not “sitting on the fence,” and get baptized, and then you will feel the joy in the truth that you’re looking for.” Well, I thought about what my teacher had said, and I prayed about it, and I still felt the same, so I decided that she had to be right. I decided that, no matter how “wrong” it felt, I was going to be baptized at the next assembly. All the time I was standing in the baptismal audience, I felt “wrong.” I wanted to run out of that assembly hall and never have to face another Jehovah’s Witness again. I felt like a fraud when I agreed to the vows;, and when I went under the water, I prayed that Jehovah would forgive me. I did the best that I could to live in “the truth” only because I did not want my children to die at Armageddon because of my “bad” heart.
Then, after eleven and a half years of trying so hard to “please Jehovah,” it happened. I was raped by my friend's husband. I had known him and his wife for many years. It was completely unexpected, and I went into “shock.” He forced his way into my home early the next morning, and with my sleeping children upstairs, attacked me again. I nearly had a nervous breakdown. Maybe I did. I just walked out on my precious children and hid out in a hotel room for four days. I wanted to die. I couldn’t think. All I could do when I first got there was to get drunk, and scream, and cry out. I did that for about six hours straight. Then, I ended up in the emergency room as the alcohol had aggravated my heart condition.
After I returned home, I reported the incident to the Elders, as if I had committed some terrible and shameful “sin.” They told me that they would have to delay meeting with me to “discuss” what “I had done” as the Circuit Overseer’s visit was due the coming week. I was just numb. I went about the taking care of my children, and going to the meetings, for the next ten days, or so. The Brothers then met with me on three or four different occasions, always wanting to know more details. It was so disgusting and humiliating...not to mention, traumatic. There I was, a young and pretty woman, sitting across from these three old men who were “in judgment” of me, and I am in a dress and nylons, feeling so “exposed,” and I had no one there with me; no comfort; no support.
I would endure their questions for as long as I could bear it and then I would beg for them to stop. I would plead with them to “just disfellowship me,” to “call it FORNICATION, and disfellowship me!” because I just wanted the horrible questions, and the accusations, to stop. “Oh, no!” they would answer. “We don’t want to disfellowship you! We are just trying to understand what happened!” But their “trying to understand” was much worse than the rapes, and my having to live with memories of them; the trauma of it.
In the course of these meetings, certain things were pointed out to me. That the Brothers “had taken me and my children as a millstone around their necks,” and, “this was the thanks that I gave them,” that, “this is what they get for all their trouble...a slap in the face.” They also said that I was a “disgrace to the congregation,” and that I had “disgraced the Sisters of the congregation,” and had “brought shame upon the good name of the Sisters of the congregation.” The entire process of these meetings with the elders took about one month. During the three-week-wait of the Elders to decide what my fate would be, I broke down and called one of the Brothers on the Committee, (just because of the stress of the waiting), to ask him if they had come to a decision, yet. He said, “No.” And then he added, “You know, if we were living in the days of the Israelites, you would be taken outside the city gates and stoned to death.” (I can’t believe that I was feeling so worthless that I actually agreed with him.)
Of course, the Brothers did disfellowship me. I did my best to prepare my children and my “friends” in the congregation. I even “practiced” being disfellowshipped at the meetings so that I could “get used to it.” For over a week after I was informed of the Brother’s decision, I was “allowed” to behave as a “normal” witness in “good standing”! I asked one of the elders (who wasn’t on the committee) about this and he told me that this was all right because my being disfellowshipped was not “official” until it was actually announced. I was even told that I could answer at the meetings!! (And I did!)
At last, when the Brothers made the announcement, I was right up there in front of the Kingdom Hall in my usual place with my children, amidst the “Ooohs!” and “Aaahs!” …the whispers and the stares. I did my best to keep a “proper attitude” of “acceptance of Jehovah’s discipline.” When I left the meeting that night, I had to walk about a mile home, through a dark and desolate area, as no one would give me a ride home now.
But as I walked, I was inexplicably filled and consumed with an intense sense of lightness, happiness, and FREEDOM!! All the way home, with every step that I took, I felt more and more RIGHT in front of Jehovah…at peace, and so very HAPPY!! I can only tell you that this is how I felt. Now at the time, I had had no intention of ever leaving “The Truth.” (The Watchtower Organization) It had been entirely my plan to continue to attend the meetings...just as I always had. (Satan wasn’t going to win!! I was “right” with Jehovah, now! And nothing was going to stand in the way of that!!) I was absolutely DETERMINED to do what ever Jehovah required of me, and to take whatever manner of discipline He chose to dish out to me in order to feel “right” in front of Him!!...no matter what any “man” thought of me!!
Well, when it came time to get ready to go to the next meeting, I began to get up from the couch to get ready, but I could not get up, as I “felt” an intense “No!” I sat back a minute, perplexed, and then I thought, “How silly!” and started to rise again. But this time the “NO!!” felt much more insistent. I then prayed to Jehovah to help me in my fight against Satan. (For surely this was one of his “ploys” to try to entice me into the “world”!!) But as soon as I began to pray, I felt from Jehovah that He did not want me to go to the meeting. In fact, I felt that He did not want me to go back to the Kingdom Hall at all. I “knew” in my heart that I had “heard” Jehovah right, but I could not understand why I should not go back to the meetings. I had to have some “logical” explanation, and so I came to the conclusion that “I must be so bad that Jehovah doesn’t want me at the Kingdom Hall”...that I was “a disgrace,” as the Elders had said. And so I decided that, as I was “in His hands,” and as I had vowed to follow His lead…even if I did not understand…I would not go back “until further notice.”
I tell you all this because I had to learn what every departing witness has to learn: that our lives DO depend upon Jehovah; that His Son, Jesus, died for us and is our Mediator, and means of salvation; (not man, nor an organization), and that once we stop living “in fear of man,” and truly put our faith in Jehovah, (“for what can mortal man do to us?”) (Psalms 146:3), we will begin to know what Jesus was talking about when He said, “Come to me, all you who are thirsting, and you will find refreshment for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
Your eyes will surely become opened and you will learn what it means to completely rely upon Jehovah! Do not be afraid of being afraid! There is help out there; there is support. You can do it!! Or, you can choose, as so many others have, to stay in an organization that is so very sick... for the sake of remaining in “good standing,” and for those that you do not wish to leave behind. But each of us is ultimately responsible for ourselves and for the choices that we make. “For each of us will carry his own load,” each of us “will render an account.” (Galatians 6:5) We cannot (none of us) say that we “did this,” or, “did that,” because, “The Brothers told me to,” or, “not to…” Remember: The opposite of the “Independent Thinking” (that the Watchtower Society so often warns us against), is “DEPENDENT THINKING!”
Think about this: “Do not put your faith in nobles, nor in earthling man, to whom no salvation belongs,” and, “It does not belong to man, who is walking, even to direct his step.” (Jeremiah 10:23) Remember how very precious you are! So much so that Jehovah “gave his only begotten son!” I hope that you will remember to pray…really TALK to Jehovah…about anything and everything!! Remember that we are to be “in righteous fear” of Him, and that to “be in fear of man” is a disgrace to Jehovah!! Have faith. You are more precious than many sparrows!
There are times that I am uncomfortable about telling anyone why, and how, I came to be “out” of the Watchtower Organization. But I tell my story because I know there are many others out there that have gone through much worse. I want them to know that they are not alone. I will swallow my “shame” to tell the truth, and to reach out to those who still suffer in the Watchtower Organization, thinking that something is “wrong” with THEM.
I also used to think that something was “wrong” with ME. For more than thirteen years after I left, I still felt that “they” (The Watchtower Organization) were “the” truth. It took thirteen long years before God knew I was ready to “bite the bullet” and read the truth about “The Truth” book, “Crisis of Conscience,” by former Watchtower Governing Body member, Raymond Franz. (That book was a real “eye-opener” about the truth of what really goes on behind the scenes at the headquarters of the Watchtower Organization.)
After reading that book, and going on to do enough research to discover much more disquieting facts about the truth of the Watchtower Organization, I was ready to search for the REAL truth…only I didn’t know what “it” was, or where to find it.
I finally came to Christ (the REAL truth) (John 14:6) through the help of a precious ex-Jehovah’s Witness elder, Dan Hall. He was there for me when no one else was. I called him and bugged him with endless questions and challenges, and he was so patient. At last, I was ready to bow my head and humbly ask Jehovah God to “Please show me the truth...even if it goes against everything that I believe is the truth, in Jesus name.”
Now, I had watched many Christian shows, and listened to how they talked about “asking Jesus” to come into my heart, but I didn’t believe them because I had prayed the prayer so many times, hoping for that “special something” that I had seen that Christians seemed to have…only “it” never seemed to happen for me. And so over and over I had the Watchtower teaching reinforced — that Christians were “false” Christians; all just “liars” and “deceivers.” But yet, I could see the peace and contentment on these Christian’s faces, and I really wanted to have the feelings that would give me a face like that.
Well, after Dan had talked to me, and I had prayed that humble prayer for Jehovah to show me the truth, “it” happened. Not a big “BANG!” of emotions and angel’s trumpets sounding, but a subtle shift in my heart. I knew! I knew that Jesus, and all that the Christians had been saying, was REAL!!
Two weeks later, I met Christy (the one who started this website) at an ex-Jehovah’s Witness Grace Conference…and what a precious bright light she was to me!! We spent hours together, talking into the wee hours of the night about what it means to know Jesus, to find His blood sufficient to cover all my personal sin, and to live in His grace on a day-by-day basis. I met Christy at the conference in August of 2003, and during the two days of that conference, I felt my heart grow and glow with a wonderful, lighthearted gladness. I even saw my face change. Yes!! That peaceful contentment that I had been longing for was now seen in my own reflection!
I recently tried to share my joy at finding Jehovah’s True Plan of Salvation with a concerned Jehovah’s Witness. I told her how very happy, and at peace, I am ever since that day I had accepted Jesus, (and all that His sacrifice means), and the joy I feel in singing praises to the Lord, and she asked me in confusion, “But how do you praise Jehovah if you don’t go to the meetings?” And I answered her, “With every breath that I take and with every beat of my grateful heart.”
I hope that you will one day come to know Jehovah God’s plan of salvation, too!!
They are all there for me!
“I had Jehovah’s Witnesses visiting for six years. … The sad thing is now I have their beliefs in my head. So I put myself into God’s hands and asked for direction. …Well, the feeling of freedom is amazing. I am like a child, learning again for the first time. The reason I had to write to you was the Karen and Cindy conversations. Instead of me asking for help, one question at a time, they are all there for me!! It seems as if ‘Karen’ could read my mind.It’s so lovely for things to fall into place, mainly that ‘What happens when we die?’ This was a very big issue for me. I was scared while I did not understand even the tiny bit I do now. It’s such a joy. Instead of feeling unworthy(were all sinners I know) and feeling I would never be saved or go to Heaven. So, please thank God and Jesus with me for such help.”
I have to tell you how your website saved my life.
“I have been a baptized Witness since 1995, and I have to tell you how you have saved my life. Every couple of years I get this gnawing sense that this is not quite right, that I am not 100% vested in what the Watchtower Society says. …Lately, I have stopped attending meetings and my daughter, 13, has begged me not to make her go back. So I have been praying and chatting with friends outside the organization……I can’t tell you my sense of relief when I stumbled upon your site and started to read the articles. I want to cry, but I’m at work. I can’t wait to get home because I am so excited I can barely stand it! Please, please, how can I meet others who feel this way? I sure could use the fellowship. Again, thanks for the work you do.”
God bless you for the difference you are making.
“My brother and I were raised by a Jehovah's Witness mother. I am 52 years old now and still haven't been able to shake the stigma of the experience. My brother wasn't as lucky as me and ended up taking his own life at 17. I have been through everything ... I can't express how much I appreciate what you are doing... God bless for the difference you are making.”
I do not feel so alone!
“Thank you for creating this website. After reading stories of former Jehovah's Witnesses, I do not feel so alone. My resolve to stay out of that religion has also strengthened. I have also come to realize that my depression, anxiety, and many other emotional scars inflicted by the organization and those in the ‘truth’ will take time to heal. But your website has also come to help me ... Thank you.”
Just as I was about to enter the Jehovah’s Witnesses again, God led me to your website.
“Hi…I am an Ex-Jehovah’s Witness from South Africa. ...I left the Jehovah’s Witnesses not because I did not agree with their beliefs, but because my wife could not handle it with me being a Jehovah’s Witness and she not. I became an anti-religious person. Then, just as I was about to enter the Jehovah’s Witnesses again, God led me to your website… Today, I prayed to Jesus for salvation after I read your article on your website…”
I’m so glad that I have run across this site.
“After reading the article that David Reed wrote on your site, I’ve looked at things in ‘a new light’ so-to-speak. ...I’m so glad that I have run across this site. I’m sure that it was the Holy Spirit that directed me to all of you!”
Your website is a great source for truth
“Your website is a great source for those seriously seeking the truth.… The Jehovah’s Witness elders shun me. I’ve known these guys for 30 years... Well, when I walk into the Hall they turn their backs to me. I have not seen my Jehovah’s Witness ex-wife, or daughter for two years. ...They hide my family from me. When I go to their homes, they smile with arms folded and say nothing.
The stories I read at your website were loud and clear - conditional love by the ‘brothers’! I have learned more in the Christian Church about unconditional love than 30 years as a Witness. When I accepted Christ, who He really is, the Holy Spirit opened my eyes to see both sides clearly. ...Without the Holy Spirit it is impossible to know the real TRUTH! Keep up your good work.”