When I was just a little girl, I had high expectations about experiencing the happiness described by our religious elders. I embraced the beliefs completely. I hoped so hard. I desperately wanted happiness for our family. A new earth with paradise conditions everywhere appealed to me. Paradise was in stark contrast to the harsh life I was experiencing growing up on a farm with a psychopathic father — expectation postponed makes the heart sick.
Interestingly, there exists a scripture that explains why I slid so deeply into depression, on several separate occasions, while a member of the family religion of Jehovah’s Witnesses. It reads like this:
“Expectation postponed is making the heart sick, but the thing desired is a tree of life when it does come.”—Proverbs 13:12 (NWT)
Or another way,
“Hope deferred maketh the heart sick; but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life.”—Proverbs 13:12 (AKJV)
“Expectation postponed” or “hope deferred” aptly describes how members of our family religion felt, after literally generations of failed promises regarding the imminent arrival of their paradisiac “New World Order”.
My parents believed they’d never have more than two children before Armageddon arrived. They ended up having seven children. My parents thought my siblings and I would never have to attend school because they lived in expectation of the “New System”. Sadly, they thought wrong, because all of us made it through high school. Some of us even attended colleges and universities. Then my parents’ children got married and had children. Before long, I had two of my own (fourth generation) and they are now having children of their own — attending school (fifth generation). They were never supposed to see that day, but mysteriously, the paradise was still nowhere in sight. But, all the while, my parents were being reassured “the paradise is just around the corner” — “it’s coming any day now”.
Expectation Postponed—Hope Deferred
I don’t know if the elders in the family religion dare to read that scripture to their heart-sick members anymore. It’s just too demoralizing and demeaning.
Does anyone else besides me see the failed prophecies of the Watchtower religion being a possible cause of depression? Did “hope deferred” and “expectation postponed” make our hearts sick?
Worse still is the never-ending threat of their “Great Tribulation” teaching based on another selective scripture.
“…for then there will be great tribulation such as has not occurred since the world’s beginning until now, no, nor will occur again.”—Matthew 24:21 (NWT)
Expectation postponed while waiting fearfully for the "great tribulation". Here is a Watchtower image of a group of members hiding out in a basement.
Jehovah’s Witnesses summer conventions are now filled with fear-driven videos about hiding out in basements, cringing behind locked doors at kingdom halls, or huddled in forests while being sought by armed soldiers and swat teams with weapons. Could not that constant barrage of fear-based political propaganda about being hated and persecuted “make the heart sick”? Absolutely! I’ve personally heard those stories from the time I was a small child until I left the family religion once and for all in the year 2000.
Watchtower teachings literally traumatized me. When I left the religion as an adult, I began a serious healing regime which included therapy. Dr. Kat and I doggedly set the family farm up as in a concentration camp-like setting. That setting aptly described the terror of my childhood. Only I had the key so I could come and go when I felt safe to do so.
At the time of my therapy, my entire family was in a shambles. I was divorcing my then-husband. My children were finished school and moving out of the home. So, between dealing with the current situation, I was free to explore my childhood, which was the root of the past distresses still affecting my present. I could probe as much or little within this camp, as I felt safe to do so. I was encouraged by Dr. Kat to explore my haunting childhood memories.
My father was the equivalent of Hitler in this gulag. Everything he did was sanctioned by his god. He set himself over his children — and his wife — as a godhead. Everything he uttered was equal to a pronouncement of god. We had to obey his every word or face brutal punishment.
Looking back, I would have never healed without the extensive years of therapeutic support. I would have been paralyzed in fear, just like in the images of the families in the Watchtower videos.
Fear as a Paralyzer
It’s no wonder members of Jehovah’s Witnesses became seriously emotionally unstable to the point of suicide. Their expectation of terror and violence from their fear-based religion made their hearts sick. Members have been waiting and waiting — with generations dying off from old age — without ever seeing the “end of this system of things” or the beginning of paradise conditions. Many of the criminal acts may even be observed from inside the walls of their own religion.
From my perspective, the Jehovah’s Witnesses religion is just as evil and manipulative as all the religions they condemn. Charles Taze Russell, first President of his upstart religion of International Bible Students, died in 1916, without realizing his dream of seeing a paradise New Order. To date, that’s more than one hundred years of “expectation postponed”.
C.T. Russell’s New World Order Dream
Families followed Russell and his beliefs for lifetimes since his death. On Internet, folks say “I’m fourth Generation JW”, etc. Our family itself made such a claim. My parents anticipated their New World Order would arrive in the 1950s. My generation (third) expected the arrival of the Great Architect’s NWO in 1975. Then again in 2000 with Y2K, our congregation’s elders cancelled the meeting at the infamous turning of the century. After all, it could have been the end.
Each generation of Jehovah’s Witnesses believed theirs would be the one that would witness fulfillment of the book of Revelation. That illustrious day has been dangled in front of families like a carrot on a stick for so long now — and nothing.
Many who left the religion now see through the delusions. Others hold on tenaciously to the false teachings. Every regional summer convention, adherents hear a keynote speaker admonishing it’s devotees, “This could be the last convention before the end.”
Besides that, at each memorial celebration of Jesus Christ’s death, an elder reminds all members and their guests, “This could be the last Memorial celebration on this side of Armageddon.” I heard those same utterances twenty years ago, when I gave up the ghost of religion.
Ask No Questions—Hear No Lies
Mind-kontrol in religion is a debilitating condition to which ex-devotees are abandoned via shunning, when they start asking questions about their failed expectations. The co-dependence between controllers and escapees from the burning Watchtower can be crippling — while Watchtower Inc. counts on ex-members to come crawling back to the confines of the cult. When that happens, it’s a type of surrender on the part of the one returning. Surrender to the devil you know, rather than taking a chance of finding help and becoming free and sovereign beings. Surrender is what my beloved mother elected to do.
To my way of thinking, returning to the vomit of religion is a fate worse than death. It kills a weakened soul. It breaks the spirit of the one returning. Personally, I saw that happen, when my mother returned to the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
When I left the religion, my strongest desire was to purge all those terrible fear-based beliefs and find a healthier way to live. In JW-land, I “existed”, but looking back at the religion, I was already a shell of a person. A Watchtower puppet. A soul-less one. I didn’t even know who I was anymore because I had given my mind over to the Watchtower religion so utterly.
Journey Out of the Cult of Religion
Therapy for me was a lifesaver. It was there where I learned about co-dependence and drama triangles in relationships. I literally had to heal enough to call back my soul to me from out of the traumatic belief system. It was a slow process.
I located a shamaness in Vancouver to help me reconnect with those missing parts. My inner child was curled up and immobilized when I found her during a meditation. I began a dialogue with her. She was a frightened little girl who didn’t — couldn’t — trust me. My heart went out to her pitiable state. How I wished for her to thrive. I used visualizations to communicate with her.
Just how does a religion acquire so much power over people to do so much damage to a soul? How evil must religious controllers be to carry through with such a sinister agenda?
Learning to Trust
Slowly, I began to let go of my fright, as I learned to trust my Self and those around me outside of the bars of the family religion. I released the fright in layers upon layers of fears steeped in religious indoctrination. They appeared as commands, rules, orders, clips of talks from the platform, where mind-kontrol was made to appear benevolent as in “My brain needed a good wash!”
I imagined I was a healer of sorts. But with the level of mind-kontrol I had to unravel, my job was to heal the parts of my Self which had been split off through trauma. It was a long journey to free my mind.
The Evil Act of Disfellowshipping Ex-Members
The most insidious action Jehovah’s Witnesses do to members is enacting the Disfellowship Order, via one short announcement from the platform. I quote,
“Esther Harrison has been disfellowshipped.”
In Watchtower-speak, that announcement translates,
“From now on, until further notice, members including close and much-loved family members must shun their newly disfellowshipped friend or relative. Shunned ones are to be treated as dead. They no longer exist.”
In my family’s mind, I am erased. One of the reasons for this website is so that if my family members ever had second thoughts about shunning me, they’d be able to contact me through this public platform. I love them dearly, and would not hesitate re-connecting. At the same time, I’d exercise caution, until I was sure they were receiving therapy to heal the mind-kontrol.
Now that I’m an ex-member of the cult, I can’t stop learning. And I’ll share what I’ve learned, in the hopes that someone else might benefit. I can’t stop speaking about the harmful things I’ve learned inside the walls of the cult, and my journey out to safety, as well.
Like I said at the start, “Expectation postponed is making the heart sick.” It takes time to heal from a religious cult which ravages the mind and steals the soul. Beyond that, it takes time to realize that we are meant to live as sovereign beings, capable of critical thought and independent healthy action.
The elders, having no training in recognizing or counseling dysfunctional relationships could not see that their advice was detrimental to me. Perhaps their advice even compounded my then-husband’s addiction issues. Co-dependence and Patriarchal Control in Religion
Respect and Disrespect Drama Triangles in relationships was a valuable tool taught by my therapist.
Kill the Apostates! Watchtower’s theology about disfellowshipping and shunning ex-members.
How I got Disfellowshipped. My personal story (includes YouTube video).
Shunning Mom How I was forced to shun my beloved mother (includes YouTube video).
Follow on Twitter: _phoenixoffaith