Wow…how do you sum up a life in 3 pages? It would be a challenge for anyone but for a wordy woman like me….doubly so! Then I thought about the Author of my life story and realized that writing a three page testimony is no challenge for Him at all.
You see, for me, even as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, I always had complete and total trust in Jehovah’s power and faithfulness. When I fell in love with Him at the tender age of seven, He became my world and I couldn’t do or give Him enough of myself and my life. I loved Him, not just the organization. I was also raised that while we were part of the Watchtower, Bible and Tract Society, life was about serving Jehovah, not pleasing man, even in the organization. It never was about Paradise for me or any other benefits I could claim. During the 32 years in the organization, I don’t know how many Jehovah’s Witnesses looked at me like I had lost my mind when I would passionately express the following thought.
“If Jehovah told us to eat spinach for every meal of every day of our lives and told us to sleep on a hardwood floor every night and then said that when we died, that was all there was. In other words, the only thing we have is this life now. No paradise. No hope of any type of reward for serving Him. HE WOULD STILL DESERVE EVERYTHING WE CAN GIVE HIM! He deserves EVERYTHING we have because he is SO AWESOME! He is so WONDERFUL!”
That was my heart and so my testimony seems to be different from many that I have heard. I have heard ex-Witnesses talk about going in field service because they had to in order to get into paradise. They hated giving talks, but did it because it was expected. I don’t relate to that kind of thinking at all.
I loved every single aspect of being a Witness or better put, every aspect of serving Jehovah. I loved being made fun of at school because I knew it was because I stood for Him. I was happy to not celebrate holidays because I felt like every sacrifice I made for Him was a beautifully wrapped present that I could hand Him to show Him how much I loved Him. I loved going out in service and every aspect of service. Business witnessing, street witnessing, door to door… I loved it all. I loved giving talks. In every congregation I was a part of, the Theocratic Ministry School Overseer learned quickly that if there was a last minute cancelation of a talk, Beryl would be more than happy to give it impromptu with no hesitation at all.
This started by the time I was 8 or 9. There was nothing in this world that I loved more than talking about Jehovah… NOT the organization, but Jehovah. (I just used the word “love” a lot but there is no better word to describe my heart.) So having that kind of desire to live for Him, it is not surprising that I was baptized at the rather young age of 12. I immediately began Temporary Pioneering every single month even though being in school and did that until I graduated high school and became a Regular Pioneer. After making a trip to Bethel when I was 12, I knew that my life goal was to serve in Bethel and began working earnestly towards that goal.
I now believe as do many others that it was that sincere, heartfelt passion for Jehovah that the true God saw and determined to preserve for Himself. However, there are always 2 sides to a cookie and I think it was that same depth of love I had for Jehovah and my unusually intense desire to give Him my all, which made me a target of the enemy as well. And boy, he has done everything in his power to destroy my love for God! So it was after the first 7 years as a Witness, serving side by side with my mom and stepfather in full time ministry that everything in my world changed.
At the age of 14, the same man who indoctrinated me in the service of Jehovah, the one who taught and lived the meaning of “What would Jesus do?” began to sexually abuse me while he was a ministerial servant and regular pioneer. Along with that came verbal, emotional and at times, physical abuse as well. He also began to take me to see rated R movies behind mom’s back.
We listened to rock music when we were alone even though the last 7 years had only been filled with easy listening and “Kingdom Songs”. He did a complete 180 from everything that I knew and believed and it turned my heart and my world upside down. There were even 2 different occasions that immediately after molesting me, I began to cry with shame and he prayed to Jehovah with me. He prayed that “WE wouldn’t continue to do this” which of course, insinuated that my culpability was comparable to his.
When I was about to graduate high school, I revealed all that had been going on for the last 3 years to my mother. Blessedly, she responded perfectly for the situation. She called the elders, but bottom line; we were both privately reprimanded, enforcing my belief that I bore as much responsibility as Chuck did.
I got back into pioneering as soon as was allowed and was given no reason to believe I would have any permanent damage from all that had taken place. After all, this was 1982 and there wasn’t much information on the effects of abuse, even in the “world,” much less the organization. So, from age 17 through 20, when I married my childhood sweetheart, I lived a cycle of trying to serve Jehovah the way I had in the past, but finding myself involved in loose conduct with the opposite sex on a somewhat regular basis.
I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I knew I loved Jehovah as deeply as I always had, but my actions didn’t back up my words. The answer I got from the elders was that I just needed to be married and so I and they were overjoyed when I finally did marry. I “knew” that all my conflict and struggles were gone and I would go back to being focused on serving Jehovah again. Boy! Was I wrong!
The next 17 years of my life were filled with torturous, grievous and finally hopeless struggles against the vicious cycle that became my life. I was disfellowshipped, divorced my childhood sweetheart and chose an abusive man for my second marriage. I seriously attempted to take my own life on two different occasions and went through many, many other demeaning and destructive things before coming to the Lord.
It was sheer desperation from the spiritual cravings of my heart being unmet that I walked through the door of a church for the first time. You see, no matter what happened in my life that should have hardened my heart, should have made my desire to glorify God with my life, wane….nothing affected my passion for Him.
While we were disfellowshipped, my first husband and I brought 4 people to a Memorial service. The elders came over to talk with the visitors and one laughingly said, “Beryl, only you…while being disfellowshipped…would bring more people to Memorial than anyone else who isn’t!” I know the hand of the TRUE God preserved my heart supernaturally and miraculously.
It was that preserved heart that never stopped longing for closeness with Him. I never stopped wanting to please Him, to glorify Him with my life. I loathed it every time I went back out into the world because of having another failed attempt to get reinstated. Finally, after my second suicide attempt, I knew I had to do something different and I wasn’t getting the help I so desperately needed from the organization.
I told the elders on several occasions that it was the same as if I had 2 broken arms and 2 broken legs and needed care at the “hospital” and they were telling me to go get well and THEN I can get the help I needed. They never could respond to that because it was true!
So, I went to church. I spent the next 8 months struggling against the voices in my head telling me how disloyal I was being to Jehovah (not so much the organization) but Jehovah. Oh, and the Trinity! Goodness! Wow, that was heart twisting, gut wrenching and mind blowing. But our Lord is, oh, so faithful and He brought me through it and after 8 months of emotional and spiritual upheaval, on April 3, 2003 I was able to invite Jesus Christ into my heart as my Lord, GOD and Savior.
The almost 8 years that have passed since that day, have been filled with wonders and miracles! He is continuing His work of healing in my heart on a daily basis and the release of my book this month is a victory indeed. It is to be a springboard for the women’s ministry He has called me to that is appropriately named “Daddy’s Little Girls.”
He wants me to speak publicly to women and share my story of hope through seemingly impossible odds. But that is God! He is the God of the impossible and the more impossible, the better. I believe that He loves stories of people’s lives that make it so plainly clear that the only way the person survived was by His hand.
In my book, He Showed Me Why, I document my struggles and failures. I am extremely transparent about all of the ways that my psyche, my heart and my trust in God was devastated by all I went through. While it is not an easy read, it is a story loaded with proof of the TRUE God’s love for me and His hand on me through dysfunctional, destructive situations and behaviors in my life.
Romans 8:28 says, “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” As a person who has spent a big portion of my life asking, “How could You let this happen? Why did this happen?” I am so blessed to be able a stand here before you and say that I am living testimony that the most horrible, cruel and devastating life experiences can and will be turned for good if we just give Jehovah the chance.
That is my story. If you are blessed by what you have read in this VERY abridged version of my story, I believe you will be much more so by the long version that is my book. It is available through amazon.com. I would be honored if you would walk with me through the miracle that has been my life.
READ BERYL’S ARTICLE: