I was raised as a JW, and I left when I was 17, almost to the day, when a judge approved my request to become an emancipated minor. The JWs accuse all other religions of brainwashing. And it’s funny now that I think of it, because that’s exactly what they did. When I left, I felt guilty for a long time, and I knew that if I ever were to go back to religion, it would be JWs, they were the only ones that could possibly be right. And somewhere inside me, I knew they couldn’t be. So, over the next couple of years I decided to be agnostic. I did once try to get my then-husband to study, when we first got married. But it just didn’t feel right, and so we quit.
In the 10 years that have passed, I have avoided religion completely. The one good thing the JWs gave me was peace knowing that this world was all there would be for me. Hell is nothingness to them. So, I buried it all, and lived my life as I wanted.
Recently, I began dating an absolutely amazing man, who happens to be Catholic. Now, he accepts me completely as I am. He’s never pushed me, but he’s said some things that really touched me. He is the first man who has ever shown me true love. No strings, no judgements, no changes in myself. And the love that he’s shown has spread to other areas of my life. When the Pope became ill recently, I started asking him questions. It started as just casual questions. And then, 9 days ago now, those casual questions turned into so much more. I began to come home every night and all I did was look at biblical information, mostly Catholic. I think this change in me came because he showed me that the Church is all about love. And I’ve been raised to believe that of all churches, the Catholic Church was the worst, and the least loving. I’ve seen differently now, though.
I have really struggled with all of this. I had sworn off religion completely. And here I was, looking into it. At first I told myself that it was just out of curiousity - after all, I needed to understand what my future husband believes in. Then I decided that it was a point of healing from all that I’d experienced as a JW. And let me say, it truly has been liberating in that aspect. But, there was a feeling inside of me that this search was becoming more, and that terrified me. I couldn’t stop though, it was just an impossibility.
Then I began to notice what I now believe may actually have been Divine Guidance in my search. It’s really difficult for me to say that, because of my past. But, I noticed things were falling into place too conveniently for it to be otherwise. For example, I wrote my boyfriend an email one evening and I talked about how I wasn’t sure I could ever pray. The next day, when I got online to continue my quest, for some reason, I opened the website for the local Diocese, and there was a new Bishop’s Message. I had already been all the way through this site, and there were so many others that I knew had information I wanted to read, so I’m not sure why I went there. But, I opened this, I read that message, and the Bishop spoke of prayer. And the way he said it touched me, it sparked a light inside of me. I am stubborn, and even though I knew at the time that it was what I needed to hear, I swore I couldn’t let that happen yet.
Last night, I came here. And I read a thread about JW’s. And once again, this happened right at a moment where I was struggling with the subject. That thread linked me to a site about ex-JWs, and I found a few more after that. I cried over several of these stories, I could feel what the author felt. And it was so healing. I let go of so many things that tied me to the JW’s, even when I tried so hard to cut the strings. I knew they were wrong, I knew their teachings were wrong, I knew what they did hurt me and my family to the core. But still, they held invisible strings on my heart. Some of my thinking still needs to be changed, because it’s hard to know what ideas were real, and which weren’t, since I had honestly studied the bible before, and thought I knew it’s meaning. (cont’d)