Ex Jehovah’s Witness/ mental health

Hello brothers and sisters. I actually put this as a way to introduce myself, but a sister suggested I post it here as it’s more a testimony.
I was raised a Jehovah’s Witness and left twice at 18 and then joined again for several years, finally leaving when I was about 27. I lost my eldest brother as a child and as far back as I can remember I have been praying and relying on a loving Father who didn’t seem to be the same person I read about as a Jehovah’s Witness.
In my teens I became very rebellious, I was heavily involved with the music scene and all the trappings that go with that life style. But I would still pray most nights and because I felt He had never left me, my conscience bothered me over the things I did. So I returned to the witnesses, feeling this was what I needed to do. I felt no comfort about any of the things I’d done and worried myself into dark depressions over fears about the end (as taught by JW’s).
Around the same time my husband, who I married in my early 20’s had become a JW but unbeknownst to me, was having serious doubts. He had started to read the bible himself. We ‘fell away’ from the JW’s around the same time, he began his path then, but I was stubborn and hurt. I felt all religion was a trick and at one time decided I didn’t care to talk about God. I had decided to go my own way, this was a massive mistake. I separated from my husband and again fell into serious sin. Then a few things happened, my then ex husband said something about the JWs, ‘they have no natural affection’ and I thought, ‘ that’s me’ it made me think. Then my grandfather died and all the pain of grief I’d carried came back to me. I remembered how this secret Father I prayed to as a child had helped me through it.
I began to read the bible and unlearn all the lies I’d been taught. I prayed for my Father to answer my questions and drew close to Jesus. For the last four years I can positively say Jesus has been the answer to my prayers and by Him I can now see my Father.
I no longer look to any human leader, but rather I look directly to Jesus Christ and I feel although I’m young in the faith, I’m being taught by the Holy Spirit; as unbelievable peace has entered my life- answers to questions come so quickly, I have nothing but wonder for God.
Reading the bible daily is an absolute must for me in a number of ways. I have always been an independent thinker, which has caused me so many problems in the past, but reading everyday and putting my trust in God to straighten my path and direct my feet, is my lifeline. He is my refuge and my stronghold.
I also suffer from bipolar disorder and at one point made a serious attempt to end my life. My depressions are very difficult and I feel so much shame over the manic episodes I have. But I have to mention how dramatically Jesus Christ has helped me even with this, His words in Matthew take on a different meaning now, one of complete understanding of how hard it can be to cope with anxiety, ‘So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of it’s own. Today’s trouble is enough for today’ and I tell myself stop now, tomorrow is a new day, throw your burdens on Christ and trust in him. He has been so powerful for me at times when I need Him the most. My tears wet my pillow, I pray to be with Him and talk to Him over and over all day.
If you’re suffering with depression, think of the things to come. This world is only temporary. I love thinking of nature, how it says in Job that He is the one who directs the animals. I get so much comfort thinking of all the good things we still get to witness in His creation. Never ever think you’re alone.
Now I’m back with my husband and I fill my life with trying to please the one who has given me so much I could never repay Him for. Instead I try to do as He says and love others, this also has helped m mental health dramatically.
I love the apologist idea, defending my faith can be very difficult, my whole family are hostages to the JW cult. But a little from me and a little from others, who knows? Only my Father.
Keep the kingdom in your thoughts always, think what you’ll do, what you’ll say to Jesus, can you see yourself? And lastly, I can’t wait to see my brother again, our eyes wiped of tears of sorrow and replaced with tears of joy.
I pray for us all. Lean on Him, never doubt the love He has, but remember if you should fail, He is faithful, He never leaves you, this has been my greatest lesson- all those years now I’m sure He never left me, His loving patience and understanding has no end.
Peace and love to you all, may we all be together in union with Jesus, just as He is with our Father, and fully understand the reconciliation we now have and use this joy to the glory of God.

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Welcome Cate @CWol. What a great testimony. Yes our Lord is magnificent and never leaves our side through the thin and the think. We may not see him at that moment but He is right next to us, carrying us, weeping with us, and turning all the evil to good. I am happy you are taking your time staying in the words of God. That is vital. I also liked what you said below as well.

I am currently in the core module with RZIM academy. I think you will love it. It will equip you with all the tools to not only grow for yourself but also in helping others find their way to their creator and Father. Here is the link below. It is very affordable. It’s 12 weeks and the weekly task takes maybe 2-4 hours if you are pressed with time. Else you can spend more time.

https://www.rzim.org/training/rzim-academy/courses

I hope this helps. Look forward to chatting with you in the future.

God Bless You.

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Cate, what an encouraging testimony! Your positive attitude in spite of mental difficulties is inspiring. You have learned so much in your life, and as I read I was so happy when you said you are back with your husband! Praise God! I have just finished listening to the best material I’ve ever heard on marriage and have been looking for an excuse to share it on Connect, so if you don’t mind, I’ll share it with you Cate. This is the first of several sermons by Tim Keller. My husband also listens and was impressed by his teaching. If you are interested…:

Thank you so much for sharing your story of victory and I pray that you will have a positive influence on your family. Many blessings to you sister! :blush:

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@CWol Hi Cate! Welcome to Connect. What an incredible testimony, thank you so much for sharing. My heart went out to you as I read your descriptions of what you’ve endured. I find your testimony so especially wonderful as I study with a JW lady each week, and am praying for her to know the true Jesus. As you say, their focus is barely on the person of Jesus Christ but rather on the human leaders. My heart is to slowly get her to think through what she believes. You said well about apologetics training being so good to defend our faith. Connect has certainly helped me grapple with some concepts as I spend time with this lady. I hope that you will be equally blessed by what you find here.

Thank you also for sharing your struggle with mental health with us. Please never feel shame about this. Praise God that he has walked through it all with you and will never let you go. I think you will be encouraged by the people here who can uplift you and walk with you as you work out answers to your questions.

This was so wonderful to read :heart:

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Oh I didn’t know that was available on here; I like that idea. Thank you Danageze, warm Christian love x

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Fantastic, I feel this will definitely help me. Isn’t it wonderful how our prayers are answered?! Love Cat

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Yes it is! Those little surprises along the way where God is letting you know He is helping you just at the right time are a constant reminder of how much we are loved! :heart::heart::heart:

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Hi Ms. Cate,

It was a great idea to post here and share your testimony ! One can feel your joy, optimism, and love that you’re carrying with you. Our Lord blessed you with a spirit of courage to leave from behind those walls of repression and despair and step into the light of truth in Christ. It’s no wonder you feel at peace in the beauty and splendor of nature. Looking into the vastness of the blue sky or starry night… you must understand what the psalmist felt when he wrote Psalm 19:1 ’ The heavens declare the glory of God and the sky above proclaims His handiwork.’

After reading your testimony, it’s not hard to see what a wonderful ministry the Lord must have waiting for you. One of my placements, while in the foster system, was with a JW family. The family was nice, but the legalistic religion was unbearable. One of the older daughters was disfellowshiped for doing something disagreeable to their rules. In retrospect, it’s easy to see where the control via shame and isolation was psychologically destructive to her. You’ll be such a wonderful witness in Christ and an understanding heart to walk with our sisters and brothers in such prisons to the freedom waiting for them at the foot of cross.

It’s also interesting that both Ms. Carrie @gchop, and Ms. Alison’s @artownsend testimonies share some of your struggles and experiences within their own settings. You will probably find their posts here encouraging and helpful.

And as Mr. Dan @Danageze suggested, the core module is amazing !

Thank you Ms. Cate @CWol for sharing your story of struggle leading to victory in Christ.

Blessings,
~Sanah~

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You’re absolutely right, I love that scripture in psalms! As JW’s we had 5 meetings a week, but I never felt I was any closer to God through. It was only through my own prayers that I felt His presence. I remember when I was age 10-11 we had our congregation meeting, the sky was clear and black, so I sneaked out of the meeting to go look at the stars. I remember saying a prayer, ‘Father can you see me?’ Then an elder from the congregation came out and shouted at me, I needed to be listening to the brother’s talk. I remember thinking how strange, I get more from looking at the sky.
I also used to write little letters and poems to Him and throw them out the car window thinking the wind would catch them and take them up to Him haha makes me laugh now.
Thank you for your kind words. The witness of creation was the biggest teacher for me in my youth; the love I see in it, matches the Father I know now.
God bless you and warm Christian love.
I’ll have a look at those testimonies too.

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I’m in tears @OmRam because I find it incredibly difficult to speak with my family, they’re completely brainwashed, but you are absolutely right. I pray every day that they may find the author of life.
I take so much abuse from them though and I feel it’s my fault, I was extremely rebellious in my youth after I left the witnesses. I’d been married to a witness brother who was very violent and had to leave him and move back with my parents. The elders and my parents believed ‘divorce is an abomination’ and despite the violence, I should stay with him. It was impossible for me, my life was in danger. So they judged me publicly in the congregation and I had to move from my parents home.
I had one bag with all my belongings in and no idea where to go, I was only 18. Then I was living in squats and taking drugs, completely broken, I still believed the JW religion was true and God had now left me for my ‘unlawful divorce’.
They still look at me like I’m that person, rebellious and independent of spirit. Although they do say they’ve seen so much change in me, they put it all down to my maturing. I’m 40 this year and all that was over 20 years ago.
It’s really so difficult to talk with them. I try all the time with little things. I’ve learnt a lot about forgiveness and forgiving others. I truly believe if it wasn’t for their beliefs they wouldn’t have acted towards me the way they have. I hold on to that and persevere- after all God did that for me.
I know whatever I say, it’s not by me or my power, I don’t have the ability to change their hearts. I needed the right timing to accept Jesus and I believe it’s the same way for them. I have to be patient and gentle, so as not get in the way of what God is doing. After all, through that experience I also met my husband and he saved my life.

I trust fully that God will help, and his justice and wisdom far exceeds mine.
Thank you for understanding, it gives me tremendous hope that you think that too.

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Cate, you do have quite the testimony and what a witness and help you can be to others from similar circumstances. I love how through it all you’ve always loved the Lord. I also grew up in a very legalistic church and, though I don’t think it was quite as harsh as your experience (I had no idea the JW mindset was like that), often people come away from an experience like that rejecting God because to them the mindset of the church reflected a harsh and angry God. I too always loved the Lord in my childhood and so rather than rejecting Him I was happy to learn more about Him as I came to learn that my beliefs were incorrect and that God is more glorious and loving than I knew. Maybe for some it’s just easy to love. After we left our denomination, my husband and I were looked down upon as fallen away. But for relationship sake our immediate family put up with our decision to make a change and eventually, I think because they were forced to look more closely at their legalistic beliefs, they all followed us in coming to the true freedom we have in Christ. We also shared a book with my family that was written by one from our denomination for the purpose of teaching us that our legalism is wrong and how we truly have freedom in Christ. The book was what set us down a different path to more open minds. Our denomination was one that believed they were the only group that was saved.

You are a beautiful daughter of God Cate, and I am so glad you have joined Connect so we can get to know you! Have a blessed day! :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

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The JWs are told not to look at anything outside of the material published by their organisation. I can only share scriptures.
You know, knowing others have shared the same things, helps me.
How you’ve been blessed by gaining your family who were enslaved is encouraging for me.
I can see your love and gentleness, it’s so appreciated. Really you all are my family and I know I am not an orphan.
God bless you sister.

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I understand your having felt isolated and am so glad you don’t feel that way anymore! Christ’s church is everywhere and it is wonderful when we experience that! :heart::heart::heart:

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Dear Ms. Cate, @CWol

I’m touched deeply by your ongoing heart felt honesty.

Oh, how our Father in heaven saw you staring up at the heavens seeking Him. And it wasn’t silly at all to write those letters. You know He read everyone of them. He knew your heart even before you did. Jeremiah 1:5 ’ Before I formed you in the womb I knew you…’

When I was around that age 10/11. One of my foster famlies had a pine tree in the front yard. It had a Wisteria vine growing around it all the way to heaven it seemed. I used to climb the vine all the way to the top of the tree because it was as close to God as I could get. Sometimes while sitting in the branches, the wind would blow, but I was never afraid. It felt like, who or what ever God was… was rocking me in His arms.

Reading your words is a living testimony reminding us of…

Matthew 21:16
’ … and they said do you hear what these children are saying? " Yes, " Jesus replied, " have you never read the scriptures, for they say, out of the mouth of children and infants you have ordained praise. "

Blessings,
~Sanah~

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Welcome it great to hear how God engineered your life from death to Life.Praise God

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So I shared this sermon series on marriage from the podcast app and one by one the episodes are being removed to make room for new ones. Sorry about that! You can get some of his marriage sermons on youtube or buy the series I mentioned on his website and be able to download them.

He and his wife have also written books on the topic. :blush:

It’s still hard but yes, I feel at home with any of my brothers and sisters.
And I’ll check that link out.

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Hello everyone. Thank you Cate for sharing your testimony. It is an amazing encouragement for us to remember that when the Lord has his eye on you, he will rescue you no matter what it takes and then use you as a vessel to rescue others.

I happen to live with JW’s and i can relate with your sharing. The thing the Lord did is that he brought me here when i had started the core module course. When we went through the teaching of world views and having interviews with people of different world views, first i interviewed a Muslim but due to covid lock down my next interview was with my neighbor the JW. By then i had learnt a lot about their faith and how to reach out with compassion to answer the questions of the heart.

The question of meaning and destiny triggered questions that gave me an opportunity to share with my neighbor the Truth. I perceive that my neighbor has a longing in her heart for the truth but yes, she told me they are not allowed to read other materials. I still pray for the family’s salvation and God has given me opportunities to share about the things that they don’t believe in. The core module helped a lot, the lesson on the trinity helped me explain the trinity to my neighbor.

Mathew 10:34-40 always challenges me and i believe that’s the experience many of us face when we choose Jesus the Truth. We choose to leave what we believed in before and follow Christ which many times might bring separation from mother and father, but will we make the choice either parents or Jesus? Will we carry our cross and follow Christ? Our Lord understands rejection but his loves fills our pain and we receive grace to walk with him. That is what you are going through but there is grace for you and John 12:32 says its Jesus who draws men to himself. He will draw your family to himself as you continue praying for them and loving them.

We indeed thank God for your healing. As you trust in the Lord he will keep you in perfect peace as your mind is stayed on him. Isaiah 26:3. That can continually be a daily capsule together with 2 Timothy 1:7. You have the power to overcome.

May the Lord keep you and use you mightily. I have been blessed by your sharing.

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Hi @Hellen-Sendi the scriptures you shared are certainly a comfort. Thank you for your kindness of reminding me that it is our saviour who draws, and he remembers us in our struggle that he never leaves us- Romans 8:38-39.
I’m absolutely made up that you’re sharing the faith with your JW neighbours. I do believe those who are searching will consider your kindness and the things you are telling them. I will pray for strength for you- I often pray for them, to me you and those who share the Truth are answering my prayers.
Warm Christian love sister :yellow_heart: Go for it! We are not the type that shrink back, but preach with boldness and boast about the love we have received. God bless you.

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Very well said Cate. Thank you for sharing your story