Adam's Story

My name is Adam. I too voluntarily left "the truth" and I want to let others know just how much happiness can be gained from taking this hard step. However, unlike several of the other people who have shared their stories on this site, I did not find another religion afterward. The purpose of the site seems to be the comforting and supporting of XJWs and to provide those thinking of leaving with somewhere to turn, a most noble cause. I would like to do my part to help and feel it is important to let people know that the road I took is okay too. Escaping that horror under ANY circumstances should be encouraged.

I began my life in the Jehovah's Witnesses organization in the summer after 6th grade. My brother and I were visiting my father and stepmother as we always did on summer vacation and a couple of JWs going door to door had convinced my father to sit down and have a conversation. He has a very inquisitive and logical mind and was simply interested in what they had to say. He brought his wife, my brother, and myself to a couple meetings and then, with his interest peaked, went on to speaking with the Mormons, reading about Zen and investigating several other spiritual avenues.

My stepmother and I stayed on. What the message touched in her I can't say for certain. For myself, I was at a point in my life where I needed answers. My parents had always told me there was a God but never went to church. I had heard from church-going children that their religion was right and that those who were in the wrong religions were going to burn. I had come to the conclusion that I had better find the right one and follow it to the letter if I wanted to live forever. So when the JWs came along and backed up every fifth sentence by opening up the bible and showing me a scripture, I was hooked.

The analytical mind passed down to me by my father said that if these people could prove to me everything they preached, they had to be the right one. I had been to other churches two or three times and never saw the bible used so much. I began going door to door, speaking in the Kingdom Hall as often as the elders would let me, and even being invited by parents to hold bible studies with their younger children. There was talk of sending me to Bethel once I was baptized. Eventfully though it was that same logical, "I need proof" mindset, the same thing that had convinced me I had found the one true religion, that finally freed me from the self-oppression and brainwashing I subjected myself to for the next five and a half years.

As my senior year in high school began, I had some choices to make. My father made it known that he was going to divorce my stepmother after I graduated. And I couldn't say that I blamed him. After her conversion she had become unbearable. Though I obeyed her as my "spiritual head" I could not stand her. I was determined that when the time came I would move in with one of my parents, over her objections. I felt that I would be an adult at that time and making my own decision could not be seen as disobedience. But I knew that instead of having a tyrannical control freak to keep me in line I would be living with one of my "worldly" parents, both of whom would have loved to see me quit the religion.

I began to think of the temptations I would face. My mother would want me to celebrate Christmas. My father would want me to expose my mind to thoughts other than those fed to me by the Watchtower society, some of which seemed to make sense. Then my mind began to speak and I began to listen. "If you are tempted to do these things, that means you want to do them. If you want to do them, you must not think that they are wrong. You don't want to steal. You don't want to lie. You don't want to hurt other people. You don't want to do these things because you know they are wrong. Yet you want to celebrate your birthday, you want to explore the philosophies of others, and you want to befriend non-JWs who have treated you with kindness. You want to do these things because you feel they are not wrong. The only thing stopping you are the words of men. The words of MEN! NOT GOD!"

Where was the proof? How was I to be sure that the Watchtower's interpretation of the scriptures was the correct one? The only assurance they could give me was the words of men. My father had since become an atheist. But he had only his words to prove that his conclusion was right. The same held true for the scriptures themselves. How was I to determine that the Bible was the word of the one true God and that the Egyptian Book of the Dead did not come from the real Gods? Again, the only proof of ANY belief that ANYone in ANY time from ANY culture could give me were WORDS OF MEN. I stopped cold turkey half way through my senior year, 1994.

It took me a while to adjust to the normal world, especially with my still-practicing stepmother in the house. Feelings of guilt came up whenever I would see someone from my former congregation in the small community I lived in. I would see an elder and get that feeling of shame that comes when you disappoint a parent or a teacher that you respect. Also, the sensation of failure invaded my thoughts. I had set a course of action and could not follow through.

But with time those thoughts and feelings faded. And what they were replaced with was amazing. I found a self-confidence I never knew I had. I was my own person, whole and completely me. I was on my own with only my conscience to guide me and I knew I would be fine. The feeling of happiness, freedom, and pride kept me high for a year. Today I am an agnostic but still hope that one day I will somehow find the answer to the most important question a mortal can ask. Until that time I continue to be as good of a person as I can. I live by my own standards of right and wrong, not by ones dictated to me. People thoroughly enjoy my company, are sad to see me go, and remember me with fondness. Leaving the JWs was the best thing I could have done for myself, my family and for those whose lives I have touched.