I was raised in a Catholic family. It was my father who had the greatest impact on my spiritual life. In subtle and sometimes not so subtle ways, he taught me to love God. As a teenager, I remember not being allowed to go to a party without the “clear understanding” that no matter how late I got home, I would attend mass Sunday morning! He always encouraged me to pray and “get to know” God.
Even though I attended catechism, I never felt like they were helping me to “get to know” God. It was mostly about “the Church,” Mary and the saints. But my Dad helped me to yearn to know God.
Somehow, I knew that the Bible was God’s Word. Of course, now I know that it was the Holy Spirit teaching me, drawing me to God. As a Catholic I never had a Bible. When I married my husband, I got a huge Catholic family Bible and I was determined to read it cover to cover! It didn’t take long for me to realize that I needed help. But in the meantime, I discovered three things about the Catholic Church that made me decide that I wasn’t going to be a Catholic any more.
- When praying, Jesus said do not repeat the same words over and over again (Matthew 6:7), but that is what the rosary is all about.
- Jesus said, call no man “Father” for God is your Father (Matthew 23:9), but as a Catholic we called the priest “Father!”
- Jesus had biological brothers (Mark 3:32), but Catholics teach that Mary is “ever virgin.”
Since I was now home on Sunday morning reading my Bible and needing help to understand it, I was thrilled when someone came to my door and offered to “study the Bible” with me! It took fourteen years before I realized that they weren’t studying the Bible with me, but rather the Watchtower lies! Studying to be a Jehovah’s Witness, I learned that Christmas was pagan as were birthdays and Father’s and Mother’s Days. All “other” religions were “of the Devil” as was “independent thinking.” They taught me that the Trinity was a false teaching and if I wanted to live forever – not in heaven but on the paradise earth – I was to serve God “Jehovah” in the prescribed Watchtower way.
This consumed all of my life. By this time, I had four sons and a daughter, and I was required to teach my children what I was learning. I was required to prepare not only myself, but also my five children for the five meetings held each week at the Kingdom Hall. I had to prepare them for talking to total strangers door to door about the “Kingdom Good News,” that Jesus had indeed returned in 1914 and that this wicked old world would “soon” end at Armageddon in 1975!
After much physical and emotional abuse, my marriage of twenty-two years ended in divorce, and because I was the one who filed, I was disfellowshipped from the Watchtower organization. Since “loyal” Jehovah’s Witnesses have no fellowship with one who is disfellowshipped, not even to speak to them, my five grown children chose to be “loyal to Jehovah” by obeying the Watchtower.
For two years, I attended all the meetings at the Kingdom Hall hoping to be reinstated. At those meetings, I was totally ignored by people I had called friends and family. Even my five children would not speak to me. The elders had explained to me that because I was “disfellowshiped,” I did not need to bother to pray because Jehovah would not hear my prayer. It was a very difficult time for me!
However, my heavenly Father is so good! During the two years of begging the elders to let me back into the organization, God placed a wonderful Christian friend in my path. For several months, we had many spiritual discussions. I wanted to make a Jehovah’s Witness out of him, and he wanted to help me to see God’s love and mercy. I don’t know why I continued to listen to him when I “knew” as a Jehovah’s Witness that he was “wrong” because he didn’t have “the Truth” (the Watchtower term for its teachings). But now I know, and again it was the Holy Spirit drawing me to our Lord. The “breaking- through” point came when I saw that the Watchtower was wrong about the Trinity! Then, like a domino effect, their teachings crumbled before my eyes.
All four of my sons are still slaves to the Watchtower. However, my one precious daughter, Meriah, is free from their chains and was baptized with Christ on Easter Sunday of 2007, along with her own precious eleven-year old daughter, Jasmin.
Just one more thing I need to tell you. They say to stay close to the person who brings you to the Lord, right? Well, I married him!
In Christ’s Love,