I was 2nd generation JW. My parents had accepted bible studies when they were kids and eventually became more zealous than their parents who were partially in and out of what is called by JW's "the truth". I believed basically based upon my parents authority and what I had read and was baptised around 16. My extended family, which is of a pretty good size, are pretty much all JWs with a few exceptions.
I really have no horror stories to tell about my upbringing although I have some humorous moments I will share latter in my blog. There are some nuts in the organization but I personally had a fairly good upbringing.
When I say "raised JW" its hard to explain, you see there are the differn't levels of people in the organization and if you aren't "in it" its hard to explain it. Some people take the "bible based principles" and the "frowned upon" or "discouraged" to the maximum and others are a bit more liberal with their conscience if its not an absolute. My family was a bit more liberal in some things(movies) than others and stricter in others(girls). Some are not so hard line when it came to conscience matters and others are more like a brick wall and don't some things as a conscience matter.
The organization when writing on what it considers to be non black and white matters generally tries to heavily encourage things considered good and heavily discourage things that could end up bad. I think they try to error on the side of safety so to speak based upon their interpretation of the morals and principles in the bible.
There is a saying "make the truth your own". Well , I thought I had back when I was 16 but I really I hadn't. You see to have a balanced perspective one should look at all sides of a matter and I'd really only did the encouraged thing and looked at oneside with JW materials. Life moved on and got a little busy once I married and bought a home and moved around. And then there was a period of about 4 years where I just slid through things on automatic and did a lot of bobing of the head or snoozing at the meetings. Hitting about the age of 29 I heared a special talk about "why aren't you doing more in the truth?" which was trying to encourage brothers to do more. Thats when I hit my reality check.
I'd always had a niggling reason that I might not be doing more because I was lazy and selfish or busy with my time. And that was partly true. Well after the meeting and re-evaluating I thought I really had no excuse to not become a ministerial servant or even an elder and preach a lot more.
Being that I'd decided this I thought to myself , what makes me so sure that I can go out and sell this to others. You see I have a dislike for being a salesman. Even if we aren't taking money except donations, we are selling an idea or a belief.
So I thought I would do a deep refresher course so to speak to make sure all my truths were lined up and I was ready to go. I always had a habit of wanting to be overly prepared before I do anything. So I started reading the bible all the way through again and to go through some fairly massive books called the Insight to the Scriptures and figured I might as well read all of the societies material again. But before I went to deep I figured I should start with some of the simple things and work my way up. I choose to start with the simple topic of God/Jehovah.
This starting at the beginning was going to be a breeze. Imagine my surprise when I started to look at it and actually try to prove that God existed. After a lot of research with both JW material and others I came to the conclusion it was unprovable and I felt a bit like an idiot or clod because I had always accepted I'd had concrete evidence that God existed it just wasn't questionable but oh how obvious it was now to me that many people had found it a questionable topic.
After that moment the flood gates seemed to open for a lot of things and I was more critical in my thinking about everything. I questioned everything wether it was religious or non-religious. Over time I slowly decided I couldn't or shouldn't continue going from door to door preaching anymore and after a bit more time even took my self off the theocratic ministry school.
I'm now 33 and In the following months/years I will be re-hashing those same materials I went over and am going to re-go over them again because I've promised my wife that I would not give up and would continue to be open to the possibility of a creator. I love my wife very much and know how important it was before we were married and how much it still is now to her , so I do this out of love but not out of hope .
I've also agreed to continue to go to the meetings with her and every Wednesday I will do some studying.
I figured I might as well put my thoughts/thinking down in a blog so I don't have to rehash over it a 3rd time or if I do I have the notes from my prior visits to go back to. Some of it is going to be a bit boring to most of you so I'll try to intersperse some stories along the way.