Friday, 5 January 2018

Growing up as a Jehovah's Witness

When I tell people that I grew up as a Jehovah's Witness I get a variety of comments. Some shocked but mostly sympathetic. Now, I'm not after pity or sympathy and nor am I writing this post to disrespect a religion that so many people choose to follow. I do however want to share my experience with you. 

It's taken me some time to write this post. I wasn't sure how it would come across. Religion is a choice and whichever religion you choose to believe in - if any - is your own personal choice and I would never speak disrespectfully of it. 

This is my own personal view point and experience. 

What is a Jehovah's Witness?
This is quite difficult to explain so I did a little googling to find the right terminology. You might be surprised to know that they actually have a website. According to their website here's how to sum up what a Jehovah's Witness is:
Jehovah’s Witnesses strive to adhere to the form of Christianity that Jesus taught and that his apostles practiced. 

You can research their website if you wish to discover more. It's not something that I am comfortable with sharing on my blog.

Growing up as a Jehovah's Witness
I was in the Jehovah's Witness religion from the age of 2 - 15 years old. Both my parents have been baptised into the religion and myself and my brothers/sister attended their church (otherwise known as a Kingdom Hall) twice per week on Sunday and Tuesday. Then we would attend someones house on a Thursday which was sort of a bible study group. 

As a Jehovah's Witness you're not allowed to celebrate your birthday or Christmas. 
I would say that growing up in this religion wasn't easy. It's quite isolating. I do personally feel like I missed out on so much. I cannot remember a time where I was excited for Christmas day or my birthday. Although we never went without anything, I think that excitement for Christmas is something that all kids remember. 

To be honest, I didn't know anything better. But over time I can honestly say I detested the religion completely. I don't blame my parents, they had a belief and I think they thought they were doing what was best for us. 

What do Jehovah's Witnesses believe?
It's been quite some time since I was a part of the religion but from what I recall, they believe that the end of days is coming. That those who believe in Jehovah are going to paradise where they will essentially be reborn and live a perfect life. Those who do not believe will perish. In their opinion, when they reach paradise they will live forever without suffering and pain. They also believe that 144,000 people from earth will rise and become one of Jehovah's angels. 

What they don't tell you
I witnessed a fair bit when I was in the religion. Hearing stories of men cheating on their wives and I know people who have been sent to prison for horrific crimes. You're shunned if you lose your faith. You're not allowed to dress in anything that is deemed as inappropriate, have tattoos or piercings. Men are seen as more important than women. You have to act a certain way. You can only be friends with people who are in the religion. You have to be escorted if you want to go on a date with another Jehovah's Witness - you're of course only allowed to date another Jehovah's Witness. No sex before marriage. They also do not accept blood transfusions. 

They are also an extremely wealthy religion. Every week people within the church would give donations. This in turn funds the Jehovah's Witness empire. I think like all religions, it's essentially a money maker. Which is ironic as they do not believe in being materialistic. 

Why I stopped being a Jehovah's Witness
My dad was the first to stop going. The main reason they joined the religion in the first place is because of my mum. However, my dad stopped going when my niece passed away. I think he never really shared the same faith and when my sisters daughter passed, it was not just a huge blow to the family but also an eye opener to all of us. We all pretty much stopped attending their church after that. I had my first Christmas at 16. 

How this religion has impacted my life
To be honest, it never really leaves you. It's always in the back of my mind. I do not believe in this religion, I do not share their faith but it's still very much a part of me even now after 13 years. I think I act a certain way due to my experiences and a large chunk of my life was spent attending church and being very much a part of this religion. 

Overall thoughts
I personally feel that this religion is like a cult. For those who are in it, they are ruled by their faith. They are prohibited from doing so many things and expected to abide by so many rules. Personally, I feel that having faith shouldn't be so restrictive. 

I will never get my childhood back and I do feel that I have missed out on so many great memories with my family. I'm envious of those Christmas or Birthday stories that my friends have. I cannot wait to have a child so I can experience that excitement first hand. 

Although I would never be a part of that religion again, it wasn't all bad. I think it did make me a more respectful person. I appreciate things in life a lot more than most. However, I think I would have lived more freely if it was never a part of my life - I'm not sure whether that's a good or bad thing. 

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