Why do Jehovah’s Witnesses Overrule Jesus’ Forgiveness?
First of all, several Christians friends reminded me of a scripture which states that god forgives immediately when folks pray. They don’t need to suck up to power-tripping elders to “earn” forgiveness — especially from elders who want to “lord it over” disfellowshipped ones a little longer. My Christian friends reasoned, “How dare the elders not forgive? — when Jesus’ sacrifice covers every sin if folks just ask for forgiveness?”
So, for folks who still believe in the Bible, that biblical principle helps Christians understand just how evil the Watchtower cult really is, to withhold forgiveness. Or to even shun to begin with! Again, for doubters, shunning is very real, otherwise what is the very real reinstatement process about? Jehovah’s Witnesses know this, and are using “theocratic warfare” against questioners to claim ignorance. It’s another deceptive practice of the religious order.
Understanding Mom’s Background Helpful
Personally, I don’t think it was fair to disfellowship Mom in the first place. I, of all people, knew her circumstances better than any elder, including the one who wrote his threatening letter to me back in 1985. My mom was already long re-married to a “worldly” man since 1975. There was no way she was ever going back to her first husband (my father) and I don’t blame her. My dad was an abusive tyrant. My therapist never met him, but speculated after hearing my history, that he could have been a psychopath. He killed at least two people in our family and committed three acts of arson — and that’s only the crimes of which we know. He even prophesied my death and I ran away from. That’s for another blog.
We didn’t even know at the time of living with him what a dangerous man we had been living with all those years. Being born and raised JW, we thought it was all normal. And also of note is that my father was in good standing in the congregation besides, until right near the end, when he got disfellowshipped — finally. After so much damage was done to our family. I say this just so my viewers have some frame of reference. The way the elders treated my beloved mother makes me wonder how Mom could ask for reinstatement as a Jehovah’s Witness. If Mom gets reinstated, will everything in our family be “fixed”? Will we all feel blessed once she’s back in the glorious fold of Jehovah’s Witnesses?
Mom Gets Reinstated as Jehovah’s Witness
During the early 1990s, my youngest brother Jeffry, a faithful baptized JW, wrote me a letter in Lethbridge, AB saying that Mom had resumed attending JW meetings in her hometown. She asked the elders if she could be reinstated. I was still a JW at the time, and so of course, I was overjoyed.
I waited patiently while the elders observed her for several more years, before allowing her back into the fold. In 1992, my mom was finally reinstated, and an announcement from the platform was made in her home congregation. Jeffry, my youngest brother, called me again with the latest news and I was ecstatic! I had the religion’s blessing to visit my mom, so I made immediate plans to visit Selkirk that summer.
Was God Blessing Our Family for Shunning Mom?
Coincidentally, both of my children asked if they might be baptized that same year. We talked it over with the elders. We lived in Letbridge AB at that time. My son was 17 and my daughter just turned 16. Their requests made me jubilant, especially because I hadn’t been prompting them to become baptised — I was amazed with myself that I hadn’t been after them to take the plunge. Deep in my heart, I knew it had to be their decision, not mine.
Terry, my hubby at the time, didn’t want to go to Selkirk, Manitoba. I was a bit surprised that he even encouraged me to go. This was the first time he had ever persuaded me to take the kids and do something so significant. I secretly wondered about his motive, knowing his cheating nature. But, then I thought if I was a good wife I would just take him at his word and go visit my mom. After all, God had “opened the way” I supposed. I had the green light — so go!
I was a bit apprehensive about taking on anything quite so considerable. Memories of my recent depression and breakdown still lingered. I still had fears about my own capabilities and was working on my self-esteem issues. However, I did like driving the car and any insecurity on my part was not because I didn’t think I had the capacity to accomplish the challenge. I knew I would be okay. After all, would not God himself approve of me visiting my mom, on such an auspicious occasion as welcoming her back to the blessed JW congregation?
I had no more doubts.
Making Plans to Enjoy a Visit with Mom
The Lethbridge elders went through the baptism questions with my kids and approved their baptism plans. Next, we had to have their further blessing to have the kids baptized in Winnipeg at the District Convention, instead of Lethbridge where we lived. We planned our visit to to Winnipeg to coincide with the Winnipeg convention dates.
My son and I took turns driving for two days to get to Selkirk from Lethbridge. Once we arrived in Selkirk, where my mom lived, I greeted her with a big hug and the words “I love you, Mom!” came easily to me. She was happy to reunite with me, too.
But, Alex, my stepdad, wasn’t quite as eager to forgive and forget that I had shunned my mom for the past seven years. And now all is forgiven? Just like that?
He was laying on the living room couch when I arrived. Mom and I found our way to the kitchen for some tea and her home-made bread. I was looking forward to tasting her scrumptious homemade bread after all those years of missing out, being deprived of that luxury.
Does Reinstatement Mean Happiness?
Inexplicably — and uncharacteristically — Alex got up off the couch. I smiled as he entered the kitchen, and greeted him. Meanwhile, he had a stern look on his face and didn’t say anything back to me in the way of a greeting. Something wasn’t right. He inched right up to me, stood directly over me, got right in my face, then slowly reached his hand toward my face, and flicked my chin.
Whoa, someone wasn’t happy with me, was he! Mom called his name “Alex!” — sharply, like she was not approving of his disapproval of me. I was shocked by his action, but really, there was no reason to be shocked. I had shunned my mother — Alex’s cherished wife — for seven years.
Red-faced, I choked back my shame and pretended everything was just fine, even though I felt utterly humiliated. But why? Hadn’t I humiliated my mom enough for those past seven years by shunning her?
Apparently, not all was rosy in our family. And of course! Why would I think everything would be wonderful for me, after what I had done? Alex was a “worldly” man. How could he possibly understand how I could shun my mother all those years from 1985 to 1992? There I was, shunning her, and all of a sudden, that abusive, disrespectful behavior on my part was all to be forgiven and forgotten?
Not so fast, Esther!
Shunning Brings Pain even after Reinstatement
Alex had made his disdain for me known. Even if my mom could pretend all was well, Alex wasn’t just going to let me off quite so easily. Sweet man — he was only trying to express his disapproval of my horrid behavior toward my mom — his beloved and cherished wife. He had seen her reaction to me sending back her package unopened, with the word “Refused” on it, after she visited with our family in Saskatoon back in 1985. He had to live with her grief — sadness — and humiliation all those years. He didn’t know how to help her. He may have even attempted to contact me, but Mom might have stopped him. I don’t know. I’m just imagining how awful it must have been for my Mom, knowing I was expecting her — emotionally bullying her — to get reinstated.
And now I know my stepdad was right for his contempt of me. Who was I that I would judge my own mother so harshly?
Confessing to Mom about Missing Her
Once Alex finished expressing his contempt for me, he went back into the living room. I confided, “Mom, I didn’t want to shun you. After you and Jeffry visited us in Saskatoon, an elder from your congregation wrote me a letter. He warned me that I was endangering my relationship with God if I were to continue associating with you, in your ‘disfellowshipped state’. I firmly believed as long as I was being ‘disobedient to my divine instructions’ God would not bless me and, in fact, I might never win you back into the fold, if I did not comply with that horrid elder letter!” I informed her who wrote the letter. It was that wonderful so-called “family friend” whom we had known all our lives — and who I trusted.
My mom listened contemplatively, while I poured out my sadness about not being able to see her. After a few moments she concluded solemnly, “Esther, you were just doing what you were told.”
Yes, I was an obedient little minion for Watchtower.
I always wondered if she had more to say about it all. I never had the chance to ask her and she never volunteered more.
I was just so glad to be in her life again.
Now Grandma is Shunning Me?
Sadly, that wasn’t the end of the shunning matter. When we arrived at the convention site, we searched the arena for my grandma and some other family members. Grandma barely attended meetings anymore. She had butted heads with the elders on several occasions and was possibly what us apostates today would call PIMO* — maybe approaching POMO**. Especially after I shunned Mom.
There was grandma, over by the main entrance, along with some of my cousins. I greeted my beloved grandma, overjoyed to connect again after way too many years.
But, what was this? She turned her face away from me, coldly, as reached to hug her in her wheel chair.
I looked at my mom, mystified.
Mom kind of gave me a look behind grandma’s back like, oh, don’t let her bother you.
Again, I was being punished for shunning Mom. Her mom didn’t approve of what I had done to my Mom.
Could I blame her?
I was dejected. I thought I was doing everything right, how god wanted me to behave. But, here I was baffled by all the mixed messages I was getting from my various relatives. Really, it wasn’t until only recently that I’m beginning to understand the dire consequences of shunning my beloved mom.
Recent Upgrades to Understanding the Blow-back
Interestingly, one of my cousins told me only very recently that when grandma found out I was shunning Mom, my cousin would drive grandma out from the farm where they lived. They would visit my Mom in Selkirk every month when she got her cheque, and spend an afternoon with her so she wouldn’t feel so isolated, so lonely, so abandoned — because of the shunning.
I thanked my cousin for the love she and grandma showed my mom those awful years I was shunning her. I felt a deep sense of shame. I also felt a deep gratitude that my cousin trusted and forgave me enough to share that precious information. Their companionship and unconditional love certainly contributed to Mom’s well-being.
I really appreciate that gesture on the part of my cousin to fill in some of the blanks from those missing years and I expressed my thanks. I feel so sad now that I ever shunned my lovely mother. She didn’t deserve that cruel treatment from me.
Looking back, I’m horrified by my cult persona while under the influence of that mind-numbing cult. We lived by harsh Babylonish, satanic rules, instead of living from our hearts, from a place of love.
It’s hard to forgive myself for behaving so dreadfully toward my mom. And here I was in Winnipeg facing the wrath of my grandmother, too.
Cult Persona Clings to Reinstatement Blessings
But I had to maintain my happy cult persona. Here we were in Winnipeg. I had reconnected with my mother — and my darling children were being baptised. What a blessing for our family!
With a lump in my throat, I feigned happiness. In the photo below, it appears that my grandma was the only person being authentic while I attempted to rejoice after Mom got reinstated.
Photo 4th generation JWs L to R Back Row: Me, my daughter, Mom, and in front, Grandma. Imagine that, Grandma doesn’t look pleased. Image by Esther.
My Children Getting Baptised — Blessing or Curse?
But honestly, in that religion, when I thought we were being blessed, there was a “hook” — always a hook. Along with the so-called “blessings” came so much pain. I had alienated stepdad, and my cherished grandmother, and hurt my Mother deeply by my shunning her.
And there was one more thing. Once my newly baptised kids and I got back to Lethbridge, I discovered that while we were away my husband had invited his lover into our bed.
When I confronted him with my evidence, he denied it and told me I was crazy.
Oh yeah. I was crazy alright. I was a loyal Jehovah’s Witness. I was truly crazy by virtue of being mind-controlled. And life went on like that for quite a few more terrible years.
What I didn’t foresee is that once my children became baptised Jehovah’s Witnesses, they would be ordered to shun me when I left the family religion many years later.
Regrets and Apologies for Being Deceived
Without a doubt, this was one of the most difficult life challenges I’ve had to face — shunning my beloved mother. I was so sure that getting Mom reinstated into the family religion would result in happiness for our entire family. Unfortunately, that’s not what happened.
I still grieve, Mom for shunning you for those seven years lost. You deserved better than that brutal behavior from me, your only daughter, after all our family endured.
I’m so regretful Alex, my stepdad for hurting your cherished wife, my beloved mother.
I’m truly sorry grandma, for hurting your dearly loved daughter. Please forgive me.
I’m utterly ashamed, my beloved children for teaching you the Jehovah’s Witnesses religion. I’m awake now and I’m grieving because now I have lost you to Watchtower corporation. It never seemed to matter how much we tried to do everything just right. It was never good enough to please that Babylonian god you call Jehovah. I’m so grateful that I left because now I am free of cult bondage. Even if it means I’ll never see you, my beautiful children again, I’m better off, because at least now I’m free to be my authentic self.
A Cautionary Tale of Shunning and Reinstatement
Dear Jehovah’s Witnesses, I caution you in this blog and the below video about the dire consequences of shunning family members. As you can clearly see, there are sad repercussions for that crime against those ones we love dearest. This is clearly seen when my dear Mom got reinstated.
*PIMO: Acronym meaning physically in, mentally out of the religion. Members have awakened, but are afraid to leave for fear of being shunned by loved ones, both friends and family members.
*POMO: Acronym meaning physically out, mentally out of the religion and usually being shunned due to a “Disfellowship Order”.
Watch on YouTube “Shunning Mom” (1985)
Watch on YouTube “Mom Gets Reinstated” (1992)
More about that “hook”. Inversion Systems of Mind Control
TEDx Talk How Cults Rewire Your Brain
Visit website Phoenix of Faith the memoir. Follow on Twitter: @_phoenixoffaith Copyright © 2011–Present.