Heeringa, Donna, November 5, 2001

My name is Donna and I want to introduce myself. I professed for 26 years of my life.  I wasn’t B&R in “The Truth”, but practically.

My parents professed through workers when I was seven years old.  My parents have three children.  We all professed each year thereafter at conventions as was expected of us.  Our family had gone to a Wesleyan church prior to that time.  My family was very musically talented.  My parents had been very involved with the church, holding various offices, and providing special music quite often.  We always had folks over practicing church music.  My parents LOVED music and had a lot of beautiful records, a huge stereo, with TV and radio.  The moment we professed that all disappeared — seems like all the music left us at that point.

Another huge, immediate change was no Christmas.  I remember the workers talking to mom & dad and informing them that it just wasn’t celebrated in “The Truth”.  That we should celebrate Jesus birth EVERY day — not just one day that “men” have determined to be His birthday!  That Christmas was the first we didn’t have one.  It was DEVASTATING to a 7 year old!  My parents always wanted to do what the workers expected, so they didn’t buy gifts for family and friends any longer either.  All our un-professing relatives (and that was ALL our relatives because none of them had every heard of such a way) couldn’t figure us out and several were very hurt.

As a child, the hypocrisy started at that point.  I didn’t want to tell children at school that I got nothing for Christmas, so I lied.  I made up a list in my head of things that they would never see — something I couldn’t bring to school, and told them that’s what I got for Christmas.  This went on all the way through school.

Workers would come and visit, and depending on the worker in the area, we were usually quite taken with them, as children.  One time my sister and I even stayed for a week with two sister workers in their bach, which was quite far from our home.

I never learned what doctrine meant.  Any time I was asked what our doctrine was, I ran down the list of what we could and couldn’t do.  I remember one lady saying that that’s not what she meant by doctrine, and asked about salvation and God’s grace, and the Trinity, and other things that I had no clue about!  I was stumped and couldn’t answer her at all!

When I was 17 years old I met a young man at conventions (of course).  We started seeing each other.  However, his home was about a 7-hour drive from mine, so we couldn’t see each other often.  We corresponded and talked on the phone a lot.  Six months later we got married.  Prior to that time, we saw each other probably 6 times during the six months.  But, he came from a “good professing family”.  There was a worker in the family (a big plus) who was in the work overseas.  Since he had such a hardy family history and was professing himself, he must be a good boy, right?  Well, within a month I knew I had made a huge mistake!

He was so verbally abusive, I couldn’t believe it!  He would get angry and yell and carry on like nothing I had ever experienced.  I told my mom I didn’t think I could stand to be married to him for the rest of my life.  Mom wrote a lengthy letter back to me, telling me I HAD to stand it for the rest of my life — I had married him.  (I don’t resent Mom for that response, I know she was doing what she felt she had to as a good professing mother!)

Anyway, I did stay married to him for 14 years.  We had two children.  He was starting to be as verbally abusive to my son as he had always been with me.  My son was going to school saying he was going to commit suicide — he was about 10 years old.  I decided I had to leave.  My husband would not go to counselling.  He had a couple of men workers come over and talk.  They had NO counselling skills, and nothing they said was encouraging or helpful in the situation.

To make a long story shorter, I left him and the meetings at the same time.  MAJOR life change!  I was free!  I figured if I was leaving my husband, and leaving meetings, I was DEFINITELY going to hell, so I might as well enjoy myself, and do some of the things I was never allowed to do!  That went on for about three years.  Even though I was free, I was not enjoying my freedom.  I didn’t realize at that time that only when God set me free, could I ever be truly free indeed!

There was only one couple in the meetings that tried to contact me after I left.  My parents talked to me quite often, and I remember my dad telling me, that no matter what I’d done, God still loved me.  That David in the Bible had lived an extremely rough life and sinned before God over and over, but God still loved David.  I was amazed!  I couldn’t believe that God could love me!  I had even been trying to tell my children that the Bible was probably just a book with no meaning, that it was just written by men.

Eventually, I moved back near my family.  My parents were still professing, but not happy.  My mom quit going to meeting shortly after that.  My dad had been the elder in the meeting (meetings were in a widow’s home, but he held the meeting).  I thought there was no way dad would ever quit going to meetings — it was his life!  But about a year later, he went to the library and discovered information about the origins of the truth, got his hands on several of the books, realized that the Trinity wasn’t part of meetings, started reading on the internet, and his life changed, thank God!

At this point, I had begun to seek God, but promised myself I would never return to meetings and be a hypocrite again!  I screwed up all the courage within me and took my children to a Methodist church one morning.  My son was extremely against it (he had professed at one point in his life too).  He was now about 14 years old.  We went anyway, and I couldn’t believe the roof didn’t fall in on us or some other catastrophe happen to us!  I loved the music, and even came away with some REAL truth!  My dad cautiously asked how the service was and I told him. He was then at the point of not going to meeting, but not going anywhere else either.

Shortly afterward I met a wonderful Christian man.  He had two children of his own and had been divorced for 8 years.  We dated for over a year, and were engaged for about 6 months, and were married.  I had never experienced a truly Godly man before, and couldn’t believe the difference ( I still can’t — he is truly a wonderful gift from God!)!  We now go to a bible church, my children love it, and all of our children go to Christian schools.  It’s inexpressible to say how it feels to have Christ within me, helping me make decisions in my life as opposed to having lists of rules that HAVE to be followed — OR ELSE!  God’s love and mercy over my love has been incredible!  Both my parents are now attending the same bible church we go to, as well as my sister and her husband.

We still have several links to “The Truth” though.  My brother and his family still go to meetings.  Also, my ex-husband married an ex-worker about 5 months after I left him and meetings! The workers there didn’t allow them to speak or take part in the meetings for a while, but they chalked up quite a few brownie points, and earned their privileges back, and are even allowed to have Wednesday night meetings in their house.

It’s hard when my children visit them, especially during extended stays in the summer, because they stuff “meetings” down their throats like a crash course during that time.  My kids have a firm foundation, however, and are definitely not moved by what they hear down there.  In fact, it seems only to strengthen them as Christians.  Well, that’s my story in a nutshell.