What Growing Up As A Jehovah's Witness While Not Liking Your Faith Looks Like
Her Voice

What Growing Up As A Jehovah's Witness While Not Liking Your Faith Looks Like

As 2016 winds down and the holidays rapidly approach, many people are finalizing their Christmas gift lists, preparing elaborate food menus, getting the guest room ready for family, and eagerly counting down to time when they feel they are celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.

For me, however, the holidays are not that special. I enjoy the time off from work, seeing family I haven’t seen in a while, and getting my grub on, but this Christmas will be just like any other Sunday to me.

The reason being is I grew up Jehovah Witness and don’t celebrate holidays. And while, technically I am still a Jehovah’s Witness, I do not follow the teachings any longer.

As soon as I say I was raised as a Jehovah’s Witness, I usually get two reactions. One is a nod of acknowledgement as they start naming off other JW’s they know to see if I know them.

The second and most common reaction is the look of sheer horror and confusion on their faces:

“You’re one of those Jehovah’s?!”


“But you seem so…. normal.”

“Do you go knocking on people’s doors?”

I don’t even get offended anymore. I’m used to it. All my life I stood out and had to learn to be different and field questions about my “bizarre” beliefs.

Growing Up Jehovah

I was raised in a two-parent household. Both of my parents converted to the Jehovah Witness faith as teens and were heavily involved by the time I was born. Since I was raised JW, that was all I knew, and for a long time I had no idea I was different since JWs really only hang with other JWs. I have family members that are other religions but we are not close so I did not see them often.

My childhood was somewhat normal. My dad worked and my mom was a stay-at-home mom. She was heavily involved in the service ministry, so my days were spent going out in field service…all day. Field service is when you see people knocking on people’s doors and offering to study the bible with them. See, my mom was what they called a “regular pioneer” and they were required to get 90 hours a month in field service. My mom was very dedicated and we would literally be out in service from sun up to sundown.

I hated it.

Even after I got older and started school, in the evenings I would either be at the Kingdom Hall (it’s like church) or bible studies with my mom. Saturday mornings were spent in field service and Sundays, I was at the Kingdom Hall again. We would have family worship night at home and were encouraged to only read materials approved by Jehovah’s Witnesses. I read some secular books for school but not much outside of that.

School Daze

In school, I stood out for not doing what the other kids did and sometimes I was teased. JWs don’t believe in pledging allegiance to the flag (our allegiance is to Jehovah and Jesus only), participating in extracurricular sports or activities (participating in those activities would require association with others who are not JWs and that is frowned upon), or celebrating holidays or birthdays because of their pagan backgrounds – so I never had a birthday party or received Christmas gifts.

At school when other kids were celebrating holidays, I would excuse myself and do other activities. My parents would buy me gifts for getting good grades, or just because, and I would have friends over for slumber parties. I never felt deprived and never missed celebrating holidays. I did, however, want to get involved in some extracurricular activities in school like track, cheerleading and band but wasn’t allowed to.

I always resented my parents for that.

Rebel Without a Cause

When I turned 14, like most teens, I started to rebel and do things that were against my religion and my parents’ wishes. I became friends with some girls at school who were not JWs and started to get into the party scene. We were all underage, but got our hands on fake IDs and started to hit the club scene, drinking, and smoking weed. I also got a boyfriend and started having premarital sex which is a BIG no-no in the Jehovah’s Witness religion. Having premarital sex willingly is grounds for being expelled from the congregation so I had to hide it from my parents and everyone I knew that went to the Kingdom Hall.

It was so hard and emotionally draining to live a double life, so eventually I got tired and told my parents that I did not want to be a JW anymore. They responded with “our house, our rules” so I continued to sneak and do what I wanted but I would still get caught sometimes. If any JW sees you doing something wrong, they are obligated to tell on you. I had to learn a lot of things the hard way because I could not talk to anyone about sex, boys, etc. I made a lot of mistakes that could have been avoided if I could just have had a REAL conversation with someone older than me.

When you commit serious sins (fornication, adultery, homosexuality, murder, witchcraft, pornography), you have to talk to a group of designated men called Elders that decide if you get to stay in the congregation or not. They usually try to help get you back on track if you show them you are repentant. I messed up a lot so I got to know the Elders very well, but I always hated having to talk to them. It is embarrassing having to tell all your dirty deeds to someone.

Plus, depending on what you did, and the number of times you did it, they would announce to the congregation that you were basically on punishment. That was so embarrassing and other people would judge you. Not fun.

Walk By Faith, Not By Sight

I was always taught that if I ever left the JW religion, my life would turn out miserable. I remember they used to show us these skits of people who left and ended up on drugs, contracted AIDS, etc. so for a while I was terrified that I would end up like that. But that never happened. I moved out of my parents’ house at 18 and never looked back.

I started reading up on other religions. I wanted to know what else was out there before Christianity. There were times when I would feel that my life was missing some spiritual connection and I would try to go back to being an active JW, but it never lasted long.

I decided to start living my life for me and do what made me happy.

Any education after high school was always discouraged. They encouraged everyone to get involved in the ministry full time and just find a job that allows you to pay your bills but not look for a career. I decided to go back to school and get my bachelor’s degree. I met new people, did some traveling, and started to see the world outside of what I was taught.

[Tweet "To me, any religion that encourages relatives to abandon their own flesh and blood is not something I want to be a part of."]

My relationship with my parents suffered because they do not have much contact with me since I decided to stop practicing the JW faith. The only time I hear from them is when they are trying to get me to go to some JW service or get me to read some JW publications. Other than that, nothing. To me, any religion that encourages relatives to abandon their own flesh and blood is not something I want to be a part of.

There are still some principles of the JW faith I believe, but I also believe some other teachings from other faiths. I haven’t found one faith where I believe everything they teach.

Now, I am in my 30’s and finally feel like I really know who I am.

I have an awesome group of friends and I am in a great relationship with a loving man and we are planning our future together. I know that my parents will most likely not come to our wedding and I have come to terms with that.

I no longer live my life for others. I still pray to Jehovah, but I don’t want to go back to being a Jehovah’s Witness. I could be completely wrong. Jehovah’s Witnesses might have everything right. All I know is it's not right for me and no one else has to understand or agree with me and I can honestly say I am completely ok with that.

Have you ever had problems in your relationship with your faith? How did you overcome them? Let us know in the comments below!

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