.:I LOST MY FAMILY WHEN I LEFT JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES – How do I get over this loss?
“I have been disfellowshipped from Jehovah’s Witnesses for four years. So has my husband. Our sons who are “Ministerial servants” in the organization will not speak to us. I am so distressed I don’t know what to do. I tried for two years to get reinstated as a Jehovah’s Witness, but when I met with the “judicial committee” of elders, they acted so ungodly toward me that my husband and I left and never went back. How do I get over having no contact with my sons who are in their 20’s? How do I get back any sense of self worth that I lost being a witness for 13 years— feeling like I’m never good enough, never doing enough? Shoot, I don’t even know how to make friends anymore since we were told never to have association with anyone that was not a witness unless we were trying to convert them to our religion. Where do we go from here? We’re so fearful of getting caught in another controlling religion like this that we stay away from everything.”
We can only imagine the hurt and pain you are going through loosing your friends and family to the shunning policies of the Watchtower. Often the pain of being shut out of the lives of those you love is more painful than if they had died. When it comes to loosing contact with your sons, this has got to be the hardest pain to overcome. It will drive you crazy if you don’t find some way to compensate by filling this empty void through a strong relationship with Jehovah and friendship with others who can empathize with what you are going through.
A HEALTHY SUPPORT GROUP:
The first step to healing is to realize that you are not alone. Many former Jehovah’s Witnesses are experiencing what you’re going through with your family, and many have found healthy ways to cope through local and online support groups for former Jehovah’s Witnesses. Of course, we recognize that nothing can replace the relationship you lost with your sons, but the support you’ll gain from others going through the same thing can be a real life-line for you in your darkest moments.
Our website offers online support through our volunteer email Ministry Team of Ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses and a Worldwide Internet Support Group. If you’re not comfortable emailing anyone right now, at least read their stories as many share how they have found true life and freedom outside the Watchtower, in spite of the pain of loosing their families.
Another source for support is the Witnesses Now for Jesus Convention. These conventions are not like anything you have experienced in the Watchtower. Instead of the high-performance driven culture, legalistic and judgmental attitudes, and talks that rehash the same old doctrines and policies, you will find a group of people who love and accept you for who you are–no matter what you believe or don’t believe. Many who attend have found a new relationship with Jehovah and His Son Jesus that they never experienced in the Watchtower. Finally, these conventions are a safe place where you can connect with other former Jehovah’s Witnesses who are eager to share their experiences and ways they discovered on how to cope with the loss of friends, family and identity. Click here for more information on the Witnesses Now For Jesus Convention.
A NEW IDENTITY:
The next step to healing is getting a new identity. You must recognize that your pain is compounded by the fact that your association with Jehovah’s Witnesses had defined your life and identity. You were “one of Jehovah’s Witnesses” and you had worn that title proudly. As one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, you felt you had a special place in Jehovah God’s arrangement that was dependant on your performance in the organization, but in spite of the Watchtower Society’s claims, this organization does not speak for Jehovah God.
To freely embrace all that Jehovah has for you, you must separate in your mind the Person of Jehovah God from the Watchtower. They are not the same thing. The Watchtower did not die to pay your sin-debt to God. Neither will the Watchtower stand in final judgment and intercede on your behalf before Jehovah. These “men” seek to interfere with your relationship with God, but your relationship with God is your responsibility—not theirs. In the end, your experiences in the Watchtower organization will not count toward your worthiness for eternal life. Only Jesus can do this for you. He is to be your only “mediator” between you and Jehovah God (1 Timothy 2:5).
Now that you are out of the organization, you must to start all over with only your love for Jehovah and His love-letter to you – the Bible. You must learn who God says you are, not what the Watchtower elders say. A good place to start is by studying the promises that God has given to those of us who have accepted His Son Jesus as their only Lord and Savior. Click Here to read the “Who Am I? …According to God” Scripture list (www.4witness.org)
Remember, God’s Son Jesus died for you and God does not buy junk! Do not let the actions of the elders and your sons’ rejection of you define who you are. You must let them go and do you best not let the Watchtower’s “disfellowshipping” rules affect you. If you see your sons or someone you know from the Kingdom Hall in passing at the supermarket or elsewhere, do not hide your face from them. Since you are out, the Society’s “rules” no longer apply to you, so you do not need to cower to them. You can go up and greet them with a smile on your face. When they turn away from you, say to them that you still love them and are praying for them. Then, walk away with confidence and grateful freedom that you are no longer under their control. They will not know what to do with you or how to react to you!
Those elders may have “disfellowshipped” THEM FROM YOU, but you did not “disfellowship” yourself FROM THEM. So in confidence, you can ignore those rules and not be controlled by their actions toward you. Just love them with true Christian love and ask God to open their eyes and deliver them with His Spirit of Truth.
Do not be tempted to go back to the control of those Parasitical elders who falsely represented “God” to you. Remember, you “crawl” to no men! In the end, you will not be judged by the standard of those elders, but by your personal relationship to Jehovah and His Son Jesus Christ.
The next step to healing is education. You need to learn the facts on how to distinguish between a healthy and an unhealthy sociological environment so that when you are ready to seek association in a social group—whether it is religious or non-religious—you will know what to look for and what to avoid so that you will not be so prone to find yourself caught in another cult. The following resources will help you overcome feelings of inferiority that stem from the mental and emotional abuse you experienced from the elders:
Out of the Watchtower into What? – Why leaving the Watchtower is so tough and where to go afterward.
Emotional Deliverance – Audio talk by Valerie Acuff, a former JW of 24 years – A discussion of the emotional issues people face when leaving the Watchtower and what you can do about them.
Knowing God and Being Known By Him – How to Gain Inner Freedom from the Mask We Hide Behind – Audio talk on how to overcome feelings of inferiority and other emotional barriers that keep one from being “real” about who you are with God and others.
What is a Cult? (4witness.org) – Signs of a cult and a simple test to evaluate the emotional health of a particular group
Are Jehovah’s Witnesses a Cult? (4witness.org) – A comparison chart using the BITE model of world-renown psychologist and counter-cult expert Steven Hassan
The following books can be ordered through your local bookstore or Amazon.com:
The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse: Recognizing and Escaping Spiritual Manipulation and False Spiritual Authority Within the Church by David Johnson and Jeff VanVonderen – Note: This book is a must-read and is crucial to understanding what determines a healthy spiritual environment and how to spot an unhealthy one immediately.
You will also need to undo the mental programming of Watchtower indoctrination before you will be able to fully experience true peace and freedom in the spiritual realm. We suggest that you read non-Jehovah’s Witness literature that contrasts the teachings of the Watchtower with the Bible. You will be amazed at what you will learn and how the Watchtower Society has distorted many of the doctrines of the Bible in what it teaches. We offer the following resources:
STAY CLOSE TO JEHOVAH!
Finally, the most important thing you can do to overcome the pain and confusion you are experiencing is to stay close to Jehovah and His Son Jesus. Jehovah’s Witnesses were wrong when they told you that you cannot have a good spiritual life outside of the organization and that you cannot have a relationship with Jehovah apart from them. Jehovah God longs to have a relationship directly with you! It is He who allowed those elders to throw you out of their Parasitical religious system so that you can find true freedom— not in religion—but in a personal relationship with Him through His Son Jesus. At Jeremiah 29:11-13, Jehovah promises:
“ ‘For I myself well know the thoughts that I am thinking toward YOU,’ is the utterance of Jehovah, ‘thoughts of peace, and not of calamity, to give YOU a future and a hope. And YOU will certainly call me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to YOU. And YOU will actually seek me and find [me], for YOU will search for me with all YOUR heart.’ ” **
Do you believe Jehovah’s promise above? Do you see anything in this promise that requires you to submit to the rules and regulations of a man-made organization before Jehovah will listen to you? Do you see anything in Jehovah’s promise above that requires you to perform for His love and attention?
Do not believe the lies those Jehovah’s Witness elders told you that God will not hear your prayers. That is a lie from Satan to keep you from finding the truth that only His Son can lead you to – John 8:32, 36. Whenever you feel like you cannot take another step, turn to Him and Pray! All you need to do is search for Him with “all YOUR heart.” You can trust His promise that if you “come and pray” to Him, He “will listen to YOU”! Believing His promise above, you do not need to accept the “guilt” those elders laid upon you that your performance is not “good enough.” At Psalm 113:5-8, we read another promise of Jehovah:
“Who is like Jehovah our God, Him who is making his dwelling on high? He is condescending to look on heaven and earth, Raising up the lowly one from the very dust; He exalts the poor one from the ashpit itself, To make [him] sit with nobles, With the nobles of his people.”
Do you feel “lowly”? Are you in the “dust”? Is your spirit “poor” and needy? Do you feel like you have been thrown into the “ashpit”? What does this promise say about Jehovah’s heart toward you? What does it say He will do for you if you turn to Him for healing? Do you really believe that Jehovah wants to make you “sit with nobles, with the nobles of His people”? Do you really trust that He will do this for you?
You did not leave Jehovah by leaving the Watchtower. In reality, you took one step closer to Him! Turn to the True God, His Son Jesus Christ (www.4witness.org). Develop that intimacy with Him apart from man-made religion, and you will find the peace that excels all thought (Philippians 4:6-7). He will give you the strength that no one else can give to get you through this.
For additional information see:
** All Scripture quotations are from the Jehovah’s Witness Bible – The New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures
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