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Monday, November 11, 2013

Living Healed

Don't you see it? Don't you see your own growth? Many people, after leaving the Jehovah's Witness religion, see themselves as "broken." I don't. I see the thousands who left as ones having the courage to become their own person. It takes courage, integrity and core strength to leave the religion because elders teach that leaving is "your failure" — failure to measure up to their man-made standards in some way. "Your faith is somehow defective” insist the elders who hardly know you. But I see your courage and I see your leaving as your own personal growth step. You have outgrown the religion, like when you were young and had a pair of shoes that had grown too tight and were causing discomfort.

You are now using your own critical thinking. You see the inequities between men and women in the religious structure. Remember the scripture about keeping silent, ladies? You no longer have to keep your mouth shut when observing inequities created by religious patriarchs.

Perhaps you saw the inequities between parents and children, where children were forced to attend meetings. Parents threatened their children by saying, "Do this! You must because God says you have to be obedient to Mom and Dad!" Many children lost out on their childhood as a result of parents like those.

Perhaps you saw the inequities between elders/ministerial servants/rank-and-file brothers. There was a pecking order in the congregations. Rank-and-file brothers always had to be subservient to someone "over" them, like ministerial servants, who were constantly under the scrutiny of the elders, Circuit Servants* Overseers, District Servants Overseers, Branch Servants Overseers, and up the hierarchical ladder. Sisters were never allowed "privileges" which were what congregational responsibilities were called. Only brothers were allowed to have authority in congregations. Sisters were to learn in silence and be in submission — always.

To me, blindly following religious rules dictated by religious elders demonstrates a lack of free will. You see injustice of those rules and believe that you can no longer turn a blind eye or you would be living falsely. Following your true conscience takes strength, not cowardice. It is not your fault if a religious theology collides with your free will. It is your soul urging you to grow!

If you were disfellowshipped you may have noticed how the judicial committee became more concerned with "keeping the congregation clean" than caring about helping you work through your doubts. Nevertheless, you have survived the demonization and the shunning and are successfully rebuilding your life. You have discovered you are inherently equipped with all the tools you need to be well. People appear “out of the blue” to support your healthy self-directed decisions.

You recognize that you are free. So free, in fact, that you could choose bondage. You have the freedom to go back, but the question begs to be asked: is going back to a corrupt religion really your strong desire? "Pick up your cot and walk," is a scripture that immediately comes to mind, since you are no longer paralyzed by fear.

It takes courage to speak your truth. It also takes integrity. Some ex-members have written books, set up blogs and built websites as a way to speak their new truth. Many great videos have been recorded to share with the world. "Many will rove about and the truth will become abundant" is a scripture that takes on a whole new meaning!

It takes courage to speak about all the new things you are learning after leaving the organization. Things you would never have learned by staying, now that you think on your feet outside the religious box. Now you are self-directed and that feels positive and freeing!

You no longer live with the idea that one day you will do this or that. Maybe you may long to sky dive, hang glide, or whatever your passion. Now you follow your heart. You no longer live for some elusive future date to begin living your joy.

You have abandoned a religion that once kept you stuck. I cheer loudly for each of you!

I'll bet you can think of some other qualities that I missed that would show your growth upon leaving a patriarchal religion. By all means, validate your own growth! You are awesome people, living healed — and growing stronger every day!

The above post was inspired by a dear friend of mine, Gay, who did a personal Angel Card Reading on me after my book was published. Each time I listen to it, I gain new insights. I would share the audio clip here, if I knew how.

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* 1972 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses, p. 3 the organizational switch was made from serving to being served.


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5 comments:

  1. Well said, Esther. You are a testament to the power of personal growth. Here's one of my essays in a similar vein: http://neallcalvert.blogspot.ca/2009/08/growing-up-on-tractor_12.html

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  2. Neall, it's so great to hear from you. Thanks for your comment. I spent many hours reading your blogs and must say I see a lot of good work on your part, too. I left a comment about your tractor story. You are a great story-teller, Neall. Just had to tell you that! Keep writing!

    For anyone who doesn't know Neall, meet the awesome photographer who took the picture of the glorious Phoenix on my book cover! Amazing writer and amazing photographer, too! Cheers! :)

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  3. Wonderful post Esther. I think you hit the nail on the head when you said that those of us with "free will" have difficulty accepting the limitations of organized religion. that's certainly been the case in my situation.

    The Jehovah Witness lady that's been coming to my door for years came today. I couldn't open the door and welcome her after reading your book. I am almost finished the book and it amazes me on the journey you have undertaken to break free. Congrats on having the strength to follow your heart.

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  4. Aww Doreen, don’t be too hard on the JW lady. She doesn’t know she is “mind-controlled” by religious dogma. I sure didn't. She really thinks she has the “only truth” and her neighbors, well... don’t. If she gets what she views as a verbal attack, she will just believe she is “being persecuted for Christ’s name” and she will become more entrenched than ever in the religion. Now I know you aren't like that, Doreen.

    The only way to help someone like her is to speak to her “authentic” self, rather than to her “cult” self. That is easier said than done unless you have built up a neighborly friendship. Cult personalities put up walls of defense to prevent penetration by “unbelievers.” The Jehovah’s Witnesses spend one or two meetings a week using a book of practice sessions, containing “objections” from people they meet in the door-to-door service, and the “correct” answers to overcome these objections.

    The cult member needs to recognize that she has been under the influence of mind control, and consequently has surrendered personal power to the “group think” and its leader(s). It may take numerous visits before she recognizes the pervasiveness of the group’s control over her life. It takes tact and sincere kindness. No one usually bothers, unless they are emotionally invested, such as parents, siblings, fiancés, etc.

    My belief is that growth is a normal part of the human experience and that when people are encouraged to grow, they will do so according to what they believe is best for them. However, they don’t always know what is best for them if they believe a religious leader knows better than them about what is best.

    I can’t help but wonder what she might rather be doing on a Saturday morning, instead of knocking on doors. ;)

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    1. Hi Esther: I appreciate your comments. The lady in question is quite elderly, and I don't think there is a chance that she will leave the cult at this stage in her life. Reg and I are always polite and kind to her, but after several years of her trying to convert us, I am indeed tiring of the process and the interruptions.

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