Brigette – 21st November 2018
A dropout says, “I believed it was the greatest thing to die for Jehovah”
What is it like growing up under “Jehovah’s Witnesses”? BRIGITTE.de reader Sophie Jones tells why she was released from the religious community at the age of 18.
I tried to be a “godly girl”
“Good day. Can I ask you a question? Do you believe in God? May I read to you perhaps a short Bible text in which … ”
The door is closed, again. It’s so humbling and I’m just wondering why I’m actually here. I hope nobody sees me, that I know that would be so terribly embarrassing. I feel like an extraterrestrial in my calf-length woolen skirt, the flat boots and the turtleneck sweater and just plain poor. Not to mention the preaching service bag, which is so large that the magazines “Watchtower” and “Awake” find their place undamaged.
It’s way too cold and I’ve been walking around with my mate for more than an hour to annoy poor people. The conversations with her are boring and bland, like a dead animal on the tongue. I drift off in my head and am on my couch, in the city or on the beach – no matter where, the main thing is not here. I pray to Jehovah that it will soon be over and I can go home.
This is what a typical Saturday afternoon looked like in my life. I grew up as a Jehovah’s Witness, a faithful Christian who wanted to bring the Bible closer to other people. Except that that was not really me.
“My true self was hidden deep behind the facade of a contented, godly girl.”
I diligently preached to my Sisters of Faith, read the Bible, and studied the Watchtower publications for years.
I would have died for God
Had I had a life-threatening accident, I would have renounced a blood transfusion, quite voluntarily. After all, I believed it was the greatest thing to die for God – I was a role model and definitely resurrected in paradise. So what to fear?
Never celebrate Christmas, get birthday presents and do not look for eggs at Easter – you get used to it over time. But the older I got, the more insecure I felt. My classmates were dressed differently, listening to other music and talking differently. Of course, unlike me, they did not have the true faith.
But over time I felt more and more clearly that it was not they who were different, but me. The religion that I thought made me special made me, in effect, an outsider. When the girls in my class were making up and talking about sex with their friends, I would have liked to sink into the ground. I should “dress with modesty” and wait until sex with sex, the Bible says.
Everyone in the community was also alone
The other children and adolescents among the witnesses shared the same fate, but still everyone was alone. They were my brothers and sisters of faith, but apart from that, we did not have much in common. We spent time together because we were like-minded and that should strengthen our faith.
“I had hardly any friends, after all, they were all incredulous and therefore bad dealings.”
The spiritual family is more important than the biological – I was clearly touched when my father was expelled. He was treated like a leper, as if he had an infectious disease that could kill us all.
When I was little, my contact with him was still largely tolerated. But the older I got, the more my family of faith put pressure on me to make a decision: “Choose life or death.”
The fear of Satan and the end of the world was always there
Those who choose Jehovah through baptism have the hope of an eternal life in paradise. Those who decide against him and prefer to live in the here and now will die as soon as Armageddon, the end of the world, comes.
The fear of Satan, the devil and Armageddon was always present. Who does not want to live in a beautiful paradise where there are no more illnesses, no deaths and the beloved ones are raised again?
I denied my own father
The choice was very difficult, but when I turned 18, I decided – for Jehovah and the alleged life. The consequence was the break of contact with my father, because he was a renegade and Jehovah forbids the contact with renegades.
This decision was the biggest mistake of my life. I was ready to deny and suffer for my family’s family. Any doubts about my decision were punished with guilt and the thought that my faith is simply not strong enough and that Jehovah is disappointed. A vicious circle from which one can hardly break out. So you suffer tacitly, consoling yourself with the thought that many others go through the same and you will eventually be rewarded.
For a while I tried to be a faithful Christian, to go to the ministry diligently and to lead a “flawless change”. But that was not for me – I was rebellious, at least that’s what my mother used to say.
At some point, I started leading a double life
Who would have thought that it was this rebellion that gave me the strength to recapture my life? I began living a double life, finding worldly, normal friends and committing one sin after another: short skirts, disco visits, and hot fights with unbelievers.
I have seen that another world exists and that it is not as bad as it has always been claimed. In this world I did not have to hide and could be as I am. I have been accepted and nobody has convinced me guilty. The feeling of finally coming to life and being normal was great!
The contact with free, independent people has also changed my thinking and I have suddenly seen many things more clearly. Contradictions that I had never noticed before were clearly felt from then on.
“I realized that all my life I was manipulated and used without it
I was a puppet that made no sacrifices and naively believed the lies that were told to her. Bit by bit I saw everything more clearly, could plan my exit and finally get rid of a sect-like “religious community” that almost took my entire life.
It’s only been a few years now and I’ve never been so happy! As if I had been caught all my life, I finally feel free and can breathe for the first time. The scars of that time are fading and I am so thankful to finally decide for myself how to lead my life.
And because I want many other people to feel that sense of freedom and finally start living, I’m talking about what I’ve experienced. Because we live to be happy, not to suffer!
VIDEO TIP: Sophie Jones on her life with “Jehovah’s Witnesses”
PLEASE SEE ORIGINAL ARTICLE FOR VIDEO
* all translations provided on JWBulletin.com are for information purposes only and are sourced from automated translation services. These are not checked for accuracy. To ensure accuracy, please refer to the original language text.