My paternal grandmother was considered a rebel in the eyes of Jehovah’s Witnesses. She was a zealous woman in her service to religion and one of the pioneers in making the “truth” known in Mexico back in the 1940’s.
But why was she a rebel in the eyes of others? Even I saw her that way when I heard her comments and did not understand her way of thinking.
She firmly believed that the number of hours she spent on house-to-house activity should not be reported, as she reasoned as follows: “That’s not in the Bible,” and she constantly had conversations with the elders as she refused to give a preaching report…even though she did it in the end.
In the same way, when it was the visit of the Circuit Overseer, he would not go out to preach because he would say: “Well, that man is the Pope, why should I go out? Oh! The elders are never seen in the service, but when the Circuit Overseer arrives, they are the first to be there.
When I made those comments in front of other siblings, I held my breath and thought, “Oh, Granny, why are you so rebellious? why don’t you support the recommendations given by the Organization?
What I didn’t understand at the time was that my grandmother, not having been born “in truth,” still had her critical thinking in place, which had not been completely crushed.
I have read comments in recent times, where Jehovah’s Witnesses who do not open their eyes to so much evidence now against JW are attributed qualifiers such as: fools or fools; I prefer not to use those expressions so I will relate below.
In my personal experience, I will tell you that it took me about 10 years to realize that I was being lied to from the first contact I had with “apostasy.
When I was preaching, I had to talk to a lawyer… he was the first one to tell me about Brother Franz. I remember that at that moment he said to me: “Do you know who Raymond Franz is? I answered no. He said, “How terrible it is that you Jehovah’s Witnesses do not know the history of your organization.
I spoke with him for more than an hour, he tried to make me see the lie I was in, but I blindly defended the Organization, with weak phrases already studied in the manual: “Jehovah’s Organization is perfect, we are the imperfect ones” “Jehovah moves things in due time” but time and time again, my interlocutor had a question to which I could not answer him with valid arguments. When I returned home, I searched the internet for “Raymond Franz” and many entries came up, in one of them I remember he said: “Raymond Franz, the prince of the apostates”, I was very frightened so I closed the search engine and with my heart beating fast, I made a prayer to Jehovah asking for forgiveness for being looking for apostate information.
The idea had been going around for a few weeks, but I ended up forgetting about it and clinging more to the doctrines of the cult.
So as a person who was born into the truth, I never had any way of contrasting information other than what was instilled in me from my early childhood, I always assumed that Jehovah’s Witnesses were the only organization approved by God, all others were wrong.
My grandmother met Jehovah’s Witnesses as an adult, held on to their teachings and was a devoted follower of the cult. She raised her children that way, but because she belonged to another religion she could clearly see that there were things that didn’t make sense and that’s when she protested.
I saw her with a mixture of admiration and amazement at her “rebellion”, how she confronted the elders in order to sustain her point of view in an overly macho Mexico, coupled with the machismo that prevails within the Watchtower. He never let himself be intimidated and I regret that he is not with me now.
Even when I am awake, it is very difficult for me to remove from my system all traces of the Organization, because I have no extended family, no friends, and I have problems socializing with other people and establishing healthy boundaries. I always try to justify others and forget about myself because I always put them first, because that is what I was taught within the Organization.
I started to write in forums of former Jehovah’s Witnesses in order to heal my emotional wounds and I soon realized that there were many people who were going through much more difficult situations than mine and I am eternally grateful to them, since their experiences touched my soul and have given me the strength to go on with the stories that I still have to tell.
Jehovah’s Witnesses are normal people like any human being, but they are instilled with the idea that they are unique and special, that they are part of a certain elite. This is reinforced time and time again in their publications; let’s remember Hassan and his book on cult mental manipulation techniques and repetition is one of the many techniques this coercive organization uses to diamond cut irrational ideas into the psyche of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Those of us who were born into the cult never knew what it was like to celebrate a birthday, salute the flag or even say “bless you!” to someone who sneezes, all of which were bad in Jehovah’s eyes and made us feel extremely bad about things that for the rest of the world were normal… because they are, but it is necessary for the follower to remain isolated from others in order to control them and if this is done from early childhood, the individual’s personality is marked and his or her ability to recognize something illogical is more difficult.
That is the perception I have now that I am outside.I have had to take psychological therapy to be able to rebuild my life and be reborn from the ashes, all my life I went to the elders for help when I had a problem, but when I realized that I was in total control of it I panicked, because I did not know what would become of me without someone telling me what I should do; and I am not talking at this moment about a doctrinal issue, but what I would do with my life in the full sense of the word.
I still fall into periods of depression but these are becoming less frequent, I am learning to be independent, confident, I am learning to control my emotions and to laugh at my mistakes. I try to be honest with myself and take the best path for me which is not necessarily the one I want. I reinvent myself every day and learn from my failures, that is resilience and I am still far from reaching my goal.
I am fully enjoying this journey of discovery, savoring every day for having the opportunity to be a better person and share what I feel with others. It is a feeling that I carry in my heart since someone in the past was interested in me without knowing me… how much I regret not having listened to that lawyer 10 years ago since my life would be different, how much I regret not knowing his name, how much I regret not being able to thank him in person and tell him that he gave the initial push in this path towards my freedom of thought.
So when I come across some Jehovah’s Witnesses who are staunch defenders of the sect, I try to remember that I was like them but thanks to activism I find myself writing these lines. I hope, as always, that with my words many will come to feel identified. I will not tire of repeating over and over again: Jehovah’s Witnesses please investigate beyond the official publications of the JW organization, use your critical thinking, take control of your lives and your own truth. Don’t let time pass by and continue to give your energies and resources to an organization that doesn’t care about you.
And what I regret most is not being able to say to my grandmother “I’m sorry if I thought you were a rebel”, if she were still alive I would have spoken to her already as I did to other family members. I know that she would have listened to me and would have said: “Oh… then I wasn’t a rebel” and I would have responded: “Of course not granny… you weren’t a rebel, you were a visionary”.