Thursday, August 15, 2013

Shunning the Shunners

I recently heard a portion of a talk being given at the God's Word is Truth District Convention of Jehovah's Witnesses, entitled:  The Truth brings "Not Peace, but a Sword given by Steven Bell of the Watch Tower Corporation, Walkill, NY.

Here are some jewels from that talk:

"What does Jehovah want from us when our family member is disfellowshipped? What does Jehovah expect out of us even if the situation is so painful that we have a family member who is disfellowshipped? What does he want?  Loyalty. That's what Jehovah wants.

Disloyalty to Jehovah's arrangement is not going to work.  For example, when someone is disfellowshipped, one of the reasons they want to come back to Jehovah's organization is to associate with the brothers and sisters in their congregation, and likely to associate with their family.  So, if we associate with them when they're disfellowshipped, we could actually be taking away from them a motivating factor for wanting to be reinstated.

Regarding family members who oppose us, or family members who are disfellowshipped, the vital question is: To whom am I going to be loyal? To whom do I have greater affection?  If we have more affection for anybody on this earth, whether it's a father, a mother, a son or a daughter, than we do for Christ Jesus, we are not worthy of him."

So let's face it:  The shunning is NOT going stop.  Our families are being taught that it comes down to loyalty.  Literally it is between us and their Almighty deity--Jehovah.  However sad, unfair, and just plain wrong this might be, the fact is--we cannot compete with their God. Even though their god is truly the Governing Body of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, our family members believe they are the vehicle the Almighty is using as their mouthpiece and mandate giver.  It's time to face the music.  That's a battle we just cannot win.  Logic does not prevail in this case.  Neither does emotional appeal.  So what are we to do?

Being cast out and shunned by your family members is like enduring a death.  A death of not just one individual, but everyone you know and love. And even a death of the person you used to be. It really is a grieving process like no other, because the ones you are grieving are still alive.  How ridiculous is that?

A picture is being painted of us--the disfellowshipped, or disassociated family members. It is so funny when I see the illustrations in the Watchtower literature depicting the "faithful Jehovah's Witnesses" painfully watching their child walk out of the door, or staring at a photograph of the object of their shunning with a grief-ridden expression on their faces. You never see the pain and agony the shunned one has gone through. The focus is on the fact that our Jehovah's Witness counterparts are the loyal ones and the life that we have chosen on the "outside" is worthy of excommunication, shunning, and even death.

Because many of us have been raised in, or at least exposed to these teachings for majority of our lives, our first instinct is to believe that, on some level, they're right.  We are not worthy.  We did something wrong by not choosing to continue to have our minds controlled by men, and therefore we deserve to be exiled, and ostracized by the very people who birthed us and have even claimed to love us without conditions.

The majority of negative comments on my YouTube channel  are from disfellowshipped ex-Jehovah's Witnesses who are actively being shunned! They are angry at me for speaking out against it, because--they truly believe they deserve this abuse.  It's all they know.  And in essence, although they are technically out of the organization, they are still bound by its chains.  But is that the case? Are we bound, and even getting what we deserve?

Not at all. Think about your family. These are adults we are talking about.  Yes they're being controlled by a government of eight men in Brooklyn, but they are adults, and as such, they choose to shun us.  They choose the Watch Tower corporation over their children, brothers, sisters, etc.  Why in the world should they be pitied? They chose to shun you because they don't like the decision you made. Just as you chose to leave the cult. 

So let me get this straight:  you chose to leave, they don't like it--and they feel the best and only option they have is to ostracize you from the family.  Where does that leave you?  Do you like their decision to shun you?  Do you not have a say in what happens in your life, and who gets to control it?

Let me give you a quick example.  My mother has been actively shunning me for nearly 3 years.  She doesn't speak to me, doesn't call me, doesn't answer my cards, emails, or messages.  At the same time, though, she routinely attempts to contact my daughter, send her emails, messages, or comments on her photos.

At first I was so hurt by the shunning, and the suddenness with which my family disowned me, that I allowed her to do this.  But then I realized something...  my mom's life hasn't changed.  She gets to shun her daughter, treat her like she's dead...and still have a relationship with her grand-kids. Meanwhile confirming her smug sense of "rightness" in following the Society's commands.  Works out great for her!  And every time my daughter got contacted by the woman that treats me as if I do not exist, I would feel worse and worse.  More and more slighted, and it fed even more into the feeling that maybe I deserved this treatment--and worse yet, that my mom deserved to still be in my children's lives all because she was still in the cult.  But that's not how I truly felt.  That's what the Watch Tower Society propagates.  They want you to be unhappy.  They want you to come crawling back so that you can finally associate with your family again.

The last thing they want is for you to move on.  And even worse than that would be to--shun the shunners. Yes, that's right.  Shun the shunners.  In the case with my mom--as I said before, she treats me like I'm dead.  So be it.  I'll be dead.  But guess what?  She's dead too.  She doesn't get to be among the living in my family.  It's only right.  She doesn't agree with my disassociation from her cult, so she shuns me for it.  I don't agree with her decision to let some guys in Brooklyn tell her that she can't speak to her daughter, so I'm shunning her for it.  And with that--comes restrictions.

She can't speak to my children.  My father (who has never been a JW, but is still married to my mom) can come down and visit, stay with us, play and take pictures with my kids.  She is not welcome in our home. She is blocked on my daughter's social media, and unless my father shares photos with her, she doesn't see them.  She doesn't get to disown and ostracize me, and go on with the same privileges she had before making that asinine decision. If I am dead, then the only way I can move on is if she is dead too.  In a figurative sense, of course.

I always have heard that just because someone shares your DNA, doesn't make them family.  It doesn't make it okay for them to hurt you, or destroy your soul.  They can only hurt you if you let them continue to do so.  They're just people.  People who can be removed from your existence.  

Once I came to that conclusion, I started feeling better.  Immensely.  I started truly sensing the power that I had given away, returning to me.  Because really, who has any power over any of us?  No one but US.  I started living on my own terms and realized that just because the Watch Tower society deems me inappropriate for association with my own family, it doesn't mean they are right.  They are nothing to me.  Their thoughts, controlling words, articles, and talks mean absolutely nothing in my existence.   They can only affect you if you let them.  And that is what they want.  It's the result for which they're waiting.

And just think about it.  If you did return to the cult solely for the purposes of associating with your family, is that really right?  I mean, why in the world would they even include that in the talk?  If you're not returning for "Jehovah", then are you really authentic in your faith?  I think not.  Shame on them.  Emotional blackmail at its worst.

So my advice is to get your power back.  Don't wither away, and wallow in this pain, guilt, and feelings of unworthiness.  Do something about it.  You don't deserve this treatment.  You don't deserve to be told that you're only worthy of love as long as you are doing what others want you to do.  Do you really want that energy in your life?  If not, let it go!  Shun the shunners.  Don't go crawling back and succumb to their ultimatum. Live your life.  You only get one!  Think about how you want to spend it.  Trust me, I know it's hard. I still have my tough moments, but it's getting better every day.  The sun has risen again, and it will do the same for you! But only you can decide whether you want to go out and see it.




16 comments:

  1. Hi Stephanie. I empathize entirely with what you have said in this post and your post on the talk at the convention.
    I was born into a very strict JW family; I saw my other relatives get baptized young and so I blindly followed them, (like you not realizing the implications of what I was doing!) although the teachings had never seemed very real to me and I detested field service. I stayed close to my relatives until they all began to pioneer and I recognized that I was on another wavelength from them. It was like The Emperor's New Clothes if you know that story. Anyway to cut a long story short I ended up disfellowshipped and I must tell you that I felt that I was driven to it as my only way of getting free from the organization.
    As you said in your blog I understood at the time why my family rejected me and even made excuses for them. It hurt me terribly as I was young and felt terribly on my own, but I couldn't go on living a lie. Only when I was free did I realize what a tortured childhood I had had being a slave to the society.
    This was approx 20years ago and since then my parents have now realized they were brainwashed and have left which is wonderful. They were very zealous JWs so for everyone out there - do not give up hope that your relatives will one day be able to think for themselves.
    Their leaving opened my eyes to the extent of the lies taught by the org. However this has only served to strengthen the resolve of the rest of my family who almost seem to relish shunning me and my parents. This still distresses me and I have felt as though I have gone through my life missing a limb by being cut off from them.
    What affects me though and you haven't mentioned it in this post is that the JWs are guilty of double standards when it comes to shunning relatives. I know of parents who have left - been disfellowshipped and turned against the org but for financial reasons it would not be a good idea for their JW children to shun them, so they are still included in the family circle. There are many more examples that I have become aware of over the years of the shocking hypocrisy within the org.
    They classify us in a group as "apostates" and vilify us in a similar way that many radical extremists preach - turning our relatives and other congregational members against us. Surely there is some way they can be challenged?

    Keep up the investigatory work - your blog is great.

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  2. I really like your writing and your honesty. :)

    I have been disfellowshipped for a short time and am becoming very aware of how negative the Watchtower Society's effect has been on me, specifically on my personal growth.

    It really came as a surprise to me, because I do really believe in Jehovah. But, I think it's very important to realize that an organization is not synonymous with Jehovah, whether or not they are honestly trying to serve him.

    I watched your You-Tube video about what you believe and I thought they were very good points and things that are actually not new to me, although I've never had really satisfying answers or explanations for why they seem to portray Jehovah in a certain way- a way that is not the way I see him. I think and feel there are a lot of examples in the Bible of how patient and reasonable and kind Jehovah is. I appreciated that you made a point to say, at the end, that people need to reason and research for themselves and come to their own conclusions.

    I really agree with that and I feel like, from the most basic things that I know of Jehovah, even things the Watchtower Society themselves teach, that is so important to him. I believe that some of the most important things to Jehovah must be Life and Free Will. I feel that it's up to everyone to do what they believe and think for themselves. I believe that Jehovah would give everyone a clear and fair chance to choose before issuing any final judgements on them, not use an imperfect, inconsistent, and perhaps corrupted group of men to test us as to our loyalty by torturing us with endless requirements, judgements, and failures, and changing our lives at their whim.

    :) Thank you for sharing your thoughts and reasoning. I think it's great that you are able to realize your freedom to live *your* life. It made me feel good and also made reasonable sense to me the choice you made about your mother. I think it's a sign of maturity to make choices for yourself and set boundaries for others as far as they relate to you.

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  3. Hi,

    Happened upon you rap video and loved it! Their is a double standard that allowed me to simply vanish back in the 90's. While serving at Walkill, I decided after seeing for myself the fraud it really is and simply resigned eight months into my stint as a Bethelite. I worked in the dairy and pretty much turned my back on the meetings both at Watchtower and out in my assigned congregation. I even had my own room with no roomate to deal with so it fit in to my loaner style. I was approached by the Elder assigned to me and told I did great work but needed to step it up with the required meetings or else I would not be asked to stay after a year. It was a no-brainer, I left a few days later.
    Of course, no elder back home looked me up and I was allowed to go off into the world as long as I did not involve the congregation in my apostate stance. Stay low and you your standing with the orginazation does not change. Problem is I saw and witnessed for myself the corruption and lawlessness back in New York and would think DFing me would have been in order for it deflect any negative accounting I gave the world or the local congregation. But they go out of their way to not publicly show the true numbers who leave Bethal as such an elite do have special untouchable status so long as you stay mum. The sexual perversions at Bethal were rampant and the Brothers and thier puffed up pride were revolting. You rarely saw a smile on a face.
    A bunch of miserable people I thought. Glad I was a Bethelite, It truely was the experience I needed to understand that my gut feeling was right all along. The Watchtower is a FRAUD!!!
    Thanks for your blog. One day your mom will realize this to. She may never abondon the Watchtower, but she will "sneak" in a geasture or word that will betray the DFing arrangement.

    Thanks,


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    1. My husband served at Bethel and to this day almost 20 years later he is still haunted by the blatant abuse that people who serve there encounter.
      NO PROPER health care, poverty, abusive speech, put downs, bullying, all in the name of JAH!! He even still has health issues and trauma by the "medical" procedures that he had to have done while there.
      Its a brutal place and it is unhealthy .... just another way to control the people ...
      leave them with nothing, keep them uneducated, and serve them bread...

      Delete
  4. Stephanie,You conveniently forgot to mention how old you were when you had sex..... Got pregnant and gave birth to a baby girl out of wedlock! Your mother attempted to protect you with loving advice that turned out to be on point....(Not slighting your daughter in anyway) YOU are a hypocrit's hypocrite! I mean that in a loving way.... Don't get it twisted..... If you can dish it out... You should be able to take it! Sorry... You may be able to fool the unaware.... But you can't fool Jehovah! One other thing..... Eve was perfect (unequivocally brilliant just as her husband) when as you stated she was deceived by Satan.... You are six thousand years removed from her in imperfection and in lack of intelligence.... But all of a sudden YOU have it all figured out? (Pun intended) You have not been deceived by the same clever person who happens to be 1000 times more brilliant than Eve and 100,000 times more intelligent than us? Stephanie. ..... Your mother loves you dearly..... Much more than you are willing to admit at this time.... You are hurt.... You are lashing out.... You are still very young and have lots to learn.... Time heals..... Allow that to take place. You may never re-up your relationship with your family or Jehovah which is frightening within itself.... But you will realize The Truth as Eve did..... He said they would die and they are dead! Will that be your realization? I remember seeing you and your beautiful daughter at the 2009 or 10 convention in Fort Worth.... Happy to see that you were tending to your spiritual needs and that of your daughter..... Don't let your new husband ( Jehovah and your family have known you longer and much more so) and your unforgiving emotions prevent you from giving your two daughters a chance to make a choice as you have... Remember as you said to check consumer reports....or the blue book value.... Because the stance you have taken would not afford them the same luxury. ....I have NOT said any of this to offend you or start a debate..... Unless I have overlooked.... I don't see any opposing views..... And I hope you will not remove this one.

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    1. What offensive unintelligent drivel . The above commenter
      does not address ANYTHING about the JWs false pseudo religion
      just dishonestly attacks the person .

      Self identifying as a brain dead cultist .

      Delete
    2. I nothing to hide, unlike whoever wrote this comment.

      Some quick google searches for you:

      Candice Conti
      Epic of Gilgamesh
      BITE cult model
      Cancer in dinosaurs
      Pyramid Construction

      Read up on those, and then tell me how Stephanie is a horrible person.

      You did not discredit her arguments at all, because you can't obviously. Ad Hominem points like "You conveniently forgot to mention how old you were when you had sex" only serve to prove your stupidity. You're resorting to attacking the person and not the case. You're a moron.

      http://danielmiessler.com/wp-content/uploaded_content/2008/11/argument-pyramid.jpg

      Look at that picture, and tell me your comments fall into the first three catagories (which are legitimate methods of arguing a point, any below that have no substance or evidence to back them up, and are ultimately futile).

      Please respond.

      Delete
  5. I totally agree with shunning the shunners. I too get so mad when I see my former friends Facebook-ing my children. My mother calls or texts my son from time to time. Yes, I wanted to tell my kids that if I'm not good enough for [active JW] to talk to me then neither are my kids. My problem is both of my children are practically grown. Unlike JW, I want them to make decisions on their own. I feel that if I forbid them to talk to family, they will resent me. My daughter is grown and lives on her own but she is completely aware of the shunning. My teen son still lives me and I've told my mother to STOP mailing Watchtowers/Awakes and if she wants to talk to him, to NOT mention anything JW for we, his parents, have decided that that religion is a harmful cult.

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    1. This abusive behavior of the witnesses with their shunning and gossip and mobbing makes me INSANE! I am sorry you have to deal with this. Luckily for me my family took the Watchtower of last year seriously and has not only refused to speak to me, or email me, or call me or text me, they have moved, changed their email and phone numbers and now tell people they dont even know me! Abusive cowards!

      Delete
  6. You are right Budd! It's your problem! Solving much? Nope!

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  7. My own mother as she was dying said she was feeling ashamed because she was communicating with me on her death bed... why you ask. Because having anything to do with her daughter meant she wasn't loyal to Jehovah. And above all Jah came first even before her children.
    I didn't have the heart to say you mean "the organization" comes before your children; because no GOD, would ever ask a mom or family member to not speak to someone simply because we share different philosophies in life.
    She told me I should commit suicide if I was never coming back to the organization because God was going to kill me anyway...
    My family has sunned me for years now and what a blessing ... I don't have to listen to them spill their ridiculous hate speech on me all in the name of JAH!!

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  8. Hi,

    I'm not a Jehovah's Witness and never have been/will be.

    I'm commenting on this because my mum was born and raised as a Jehovah's Witness. She left the religion when she met my father (now divorced) and fell pregnant with me. I have never been fond of the religion, mainly because I feel like the religion itself is completely selfish. My grandparents are still Jehovah's Witnesses. I love them, but they seem to think that they are so 'special' - when in reality, they are no more as special than any other decent human being on this planet.

    My grandad is cruel, tight on money (they didn't have central heating in their last house for years, no TV license, kept a diary of everything himself and my gran purchased, was mean with food/sweets) and they never ever go on holiday. My gran once told me that whatever they didn't spend on coffee was going to go towards a holiday.

    What angers me more is the fact that emotionally, my mum will never recover from the childhood she had, the fact that everyone she knew, her family and the congregation deserted her, etc. I feel like I am talking so bitterly about this, but life is precious, why can they not help others - i.e. a family member who has lost loads of blood and is dying? If it was my father, mother, sisters or brothers... I wouldn't have to think twice about giving blood, if it wasn't for my family, I would be nothing. I couldn't live with the fact that I had chosen 'God,' (a person who I believe does exist by the way) over my family, who I've grown up with and love. Nobody should come before your own family, they raised you.

    To top it off, my grandad has cheated on my gran in the past and spent days and days at round my family home when I was younger, looking for a computer. Turns out he never bought one in the end, due to 'temptation' - i.e. PORN. I couldn't use my own computer because of his selfishness. He deserted my mum when she needed him, yet the man himself is no saint, and believes he will be one of the first in line to reach the gates of Heaven.

    Why should people who are selfish, who are force fed this religion (and never allowed to question it... religion is about finding who you are, not covering up information in the fear that it is 'Satanic') and some of them, even mean. I do love my grandparents, after all, I wouldn't be here... I just hold so much bitterness due to the fact that my mum has battled with depression a lot of her life and has so many problems. She celebrates Christmas for us children, but deep down I know it pains her, even though she's left the religion.

    Also, some Jehovah's Witnesses give you such evil looks for wearing poppies on Remembrance day - I myself, don't agree with war, just as much as they don't... but it won't stop myself showing respect for the thousands of young men and women who lost their lives to protect our future generations.

    The religion is evil, misleading (my gran joined the religion at the time because she believed if she didn't that God himself would kill her) and harmful to people. In some ways, I respect the whole 'uniting' symbolic front they have, but everything else rings false for me. God is loving, understanding - why would he kill off the majority of this world for not being Jehovah's Witnesses? I believe in God - why should I have to die? My heart is as good as their hearts, if not better!

    I need to stop... it felt good to let all of that out. Thank you.

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    1. Also - the funny thing is, they came over Christmas day for a 'free meal' - we were told to 'tone down' our Christmas celebrations in the respect of their presence. Was definitely the crappest Christmas for me! When they aren't talking about their religion, they are actually interesting people to talk to...

      My father will never like my grandad though, as he remembers the time he was watching the telly and all of the Christian choirs were singing in the churches, to which my grandad went... 'You do realise that religion is false, don't you?' My dad stormed off from the house in his anger of the fact, that in his own time, his own home, he had dared to say that. My mum used to hide the Christmas tree for them, whenever they came round.

      I am always told off by my mum and stepdad for calling them 'Jehovos' and expressing my opinion on the religion. I just don't understand why they can't open their tiny minds, they live in this dark world. They have effectively wasted their lives to some degree, only they were lucky enough to have normal childhoods, unlike my mum.

      Be who you want to be. Be free.

      Delete
  9. My living sister, whose life I have literally saved twice, would dump me like a hot potato if I was DFd or DAd. Sad when one realises that these relations are based on nothing more than vaporous ideologies and questionable belief systems that, once not shared, can break a " loving " family apart.

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  10. By the way. You're a fine looking woman :b

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  11. I love this blog and your attitude. I've been publicly out for about 3 years. I'd been having very serious doubts and I finally had enough when an elder told me, "you know, at some point we will have to hand you over to Satan." Such a compassionate religion. I still miss my friends and family who no longer speak to me, but since leaving the organisation I have felt such relief - my heart is lighter. "Shunning the shunners" sounds like an awesome strategy to reclaim the power I felt I had lost to the corporation. Keep on rockin' girl!

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