I am grateful to God for bringing me back into this sect and then telling me to leave!
In that time period, my childhood fantasies of this church were laid to rest. I had idealized it as children do. From my perspective, it was nice. I never understood my mother’s point of view before. Of course, as the youngest child, I didn’t really have much work to do — I was always being sent off to “play,” and play I did! Conventions were fun times, and Mom had a blanket on the floor for me to nap on during services and I had coloring books, etc., so even though people got up and said stuff, most of it went over my head. I was wrapped up in Woody Woodpecker, etc.
Everybody was nice, though. My Mom was always working at domestic stuff: cooking, cleaning. But my older sister was her “right hand,” and so between the two of them, the household was maintained. The few chores I was called upon to do I regarded (selfishly, I now realize) as a great intrusion on my life. My Dad worked all day. He was exceptionally kind. I remember him reading his Bible a lot; Mom not as much — I think she had quite a lot to do.
Anyway, for years I had idealized the church she left, and even thought occasionally of going back, as I got sick of the “sin” out “in the world.” But when I remembered Mom’s tirade against the tyranny of “the bun” and how the Workers wouldn’t answer her questions, it gave me pause. Could I really, after being out in the world, take on a lifestyle that seemed crimped? By the time I was taking care of Dad, I had vanquished my television on my own, being sick of all the junk on it. Being a history major in college, I devoured documentaries through Netflix — who needs cable or regular tv, I figured. So the no TV rule was not an issue for me. Had already eliminated that.
Also, I preferred long skirts and no make-up and longish hair anyway, so stylistically the church didn’t really present much of a challenge to me. Not that I thought everyone else should dress like them, though. Some women look so much better with shorter styles and make-up. My experiments with that (I did color my hair previously and I did start wearing make-up at 13 and did so for many years) just didn’t seem to work for my face and coloring. I found I preferred my look “au naturel” — but it was an aesthetic consideration in every way in my case, and I certainly didn’t think it “should be” that way for everybody. In other words, I didn’t and I don’t consider it a sin for women to wear pants, cut and style their hair, color their hair, and wear cosmetics. I probably resolved that issue from hearing my Mom’s opinions on it. And I agreed.
When I started going I never IMAGINED myself joining. But when the Lord wanted me to, I actually protested for a while. But I did it to please Him. That might sound ridiculous to some. But it really happened that way. My decision was based on obedience to Him. I felt “in it” but not “of it” if you know what I mean. I did not jump in with this adulation of the Workers. I knew that some were putting them on a pedestal; I never did. I enjoyed the Bible reading very much, but I always felt like an outsider. There is a certain mindset, even a political view that I will politely call WASP? I think most people are Republicans in world view. Not ever having been that myself, I definitely felt like a different bird. My loyalty was not to the organization or any men or women in it. I felt there was something special about this church, though. But I also knew that God was not limited to working “only” in this church. I still believe God works in it, too.
When people would call it “The Truth” I found myself correcting them, “The gospel is the Truth.” The “only way” syndrome never seemed true to me, but I put it down to over-zealousness on the part of members. It was only later (on Cherie’s website) that I realized that attitude is part and parcel of this sect. It’s not only a few oldsters who regard it that way, that IS one of the underlying ideas. In fact, the website is what solidified my understanding of what these folks really believe. Since there is no written doctrine, one might feel it’s all up to you. But knowing the history, and knowing the evolution of ideas, I can see how and where they came from. The Lord led me to that site; the Lord knew I would find “the truth” about “the Truth” and He blessed me by this entire experience.
Where I’m at now: I love the Lord God with all my heart! I am a sinner like everyone else, but fighting the good fight every day. I believe the Lord blessed me deeply in my experience with this sect — not only the exiting part (I’m free!) but the baptism, which to me was totally sincere. He forgave me my past sins! And lives within me. And gave me the desire to forgive others! I work on that day by day — and although I was angry at my last encounter with some Worker ladies who came over, and I am still processing that — one thing is certain — I will forgive and forget. Forgiveness is an awesome act — first on the part of God — then when we forgive others.
I know some may not have faith in God. My sharing of these things is not to proselytize or “convert” anyone to my beliefs, only to share what I consider my truth. I think my having a relationship with God before I went in as an adult made a big difference in my whole experience…
By Ruth Smith
New Mexico, USA
May 11, 2010