Mom & Dad,
In previous text messages, Mom kept repeating that, “You’re just trying to make yourself look good.” I couldn’t understand what she meant and she wouldn’t answer when I repeatedly asked. However, I think I may understand what she was getting at and I think it is directly related to dad’s comment, “You’ve ruined my reputation.”
Correct me if I’m wrong: Is it your reputation as Jehovah’s Witnesses? Perhaps ‘worldly people’ aren’t as accepting of your beliefs once they find out that, although the both of you are essentially loving and kind people, you are willing to erase the memory of your son over religious belief.
Speaking out was not an easy decision for me. I initially struggled to keep my doubts to myself. I kept blaming myself for being spiritually weak. Or, perhaps I had allowed place for the devil in my heart. I refused to look at anything watchtower deemed “apostate”. I continued to spiral into the deepest depression of my life. Only once I started to research my own beliefs, and how I had come to have them, did I come to realize that I had been deceived. This wasn’t an overnight thing. And it was extremely difficult to accept. I am not demanding that you agree with me. I am merely asking that we agree to disagree. I am always willing to talk about it if you desire. Although, I know that is not an option for you.
Dad will quote a scripture to defend his decision to shun me – his own flesh and blood. But, it’s interesting that the Awake! magazine of 1947 titled “Are you also Excommunicated?” denounced Catholicism’s practice of excommunication. It pointed out that it was unscriptural and had pagan roots. Only, in 1951 did they do a complete 180 degrees and adopted the same practice. Furthering its impact in 1981, they added the same heavy shunning policy towards those that disassociated from the religion. This ensured that conscientious objectors could not leave the religious group without sacrificing their contact with family and friends. The Awake! magazine stated that excommunication was used as a weapon by the church and that is exactly what it is. Emotional blackmail is holding one’s family over their head to ensure they will never have normal association with them again unless they reinstate their membership.
Leaving watchtower feels like having a gun to your head and tape over your mouth. As long as you keep quiet you may have at least some necessary contact with the people you love most. But, the moment you start to pull the tape away they begin to squeeze the trigger. And once it is gone, and a person speaks out about what s/he believes is wrong, the trigger is pulled. Instantly, you are erased from existence. You are dead to JWs, including your family who are members of the religion. Unlike a physical bullet which lasts but a moment, the ongoing mental and emotional turmoil of shunning will last a lifetime.
Parental love is the benchmark example of “natural affection” and I cannot imagine allowing anything to stop me from trying to be there for my children, or be in their lives no matter what. I cannot imagine the pain of losing two children. And I hope I do not have to ever experience it. But, I cannot understand how you could endure that pain while you have a living, breathing, son that lives just blocks from you. He is begging to have a relationship with you yet you have chosen to write him off as worse than dead because of a difference in religious beliefs.
You will likely repeat yourself and say, “it was your choice” or, “you knew the consequences of leaving”. Yet you must understand that an indoctrinated 11-year-old boy whose father had just suffered a massive brain injury, a grieving mother sunk into a massive depression, and a recently dead eldest brother, had no grasp on the “consequences” that were attached to that decision. Where is the parental love? As Proverbs 17:17 says, “A true friend shows love all the time”. See today’s text for April 1, 2021. Love is not merely a feeling you may have for your son, it is an action that you take. How can you show love to one you shun?
Tomorrow it will be 10 years since Jared took his life. My heart is still broken, as yours surely is. I just ask that you please reconsider your decision to shun me. Please allow us to try and repair our relationship. I do sincerely love the both of you. My love for you comes before my beliefs. It’s your decision and yours alone to shun me or to involve me in your lives.