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Heart of the Matter


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Trying to get “Back to the place where we started, back when I knew next to nothing, back to the heart, the heart of the matter..”


My breaking point was the ‘hell thing’. I hoped that my love for God was bigger than my fear of his hell. I tried for it to be so. As a child and young adult I wept and prayed and believed with all my might. I was raised in one of the ‘less than true Christian’ religions, Catholicism. I went to church nearly every day and taught catechism for many years. I left that religion at 22, so that means I was teaching catechism and being a part of that church from childhood.


Then I went to another of the ‘less than true Christian’ religions, Seventh-Day Adventism. This is how I went from the ‘one true church’ to the ‘one true church’. I had been reading a bible that I borrowed from the library and decided to purchase one of my own, a Red-letter edition of King James, with a very abbreviated concordance in the back. It was my treasure. Alas! I could not locate the ascension of Mary; I searched and searched for it, to no avail. So then I purchased a Strong’s Concordance. Obviously I was not going to find the Catholic belief of the ascension of Mary in the bible. However, in my search, I was led to read the entire bible. This took about 3 months. I skipped the ‘begats’ and the other droning on and on parts, and I began to believe in the Sabbath as the 7th day of the week, Saturday. I didn’t understand about Friday sundown to Saturday sundown, but I did my best to honor God every week in solitude and joy. I was already baking my own bread, I hardly ever did drugs anymore, I was rolling my own cigarettes rather than smoking the pre-rolled ones, so my addiction was not as strong as it once was. I was heading toward vegetarianism and whole foods. I set myself up, unawares, to be an Adventist. So when I went to the first evangelical meeting I had ever been to in my life, well, it was like taking candy from a baby. I was hooked; I felt that the Holy Spirit had spoken to me. It was all so obviously God-led that it never occurred to me to question it at all. And I did not question it for several years.


The Seventh-Day Adventists had the answers I needed. I could not justify an everlasting fire with a Loving and Holy God. They showed me that the fire was merely a cleansing of the earth, we would be taken to heaven and that one day the earth would be our new home again, as it was in Eden. The controversy between God and Satan would end when everyone saw their (God's & Satan's and everyone else's) true characters. I could so understand, finally, what it all was about, why we are here, and the best way to live day by day. Now if they had stopped there, I might have continued believing. But that’s another story which belongs on an Ex-SDA site.


Years pass, I am about 36-37, a mother of three, completely out of my mind, struggling to apply what I ‘know’ to be truth to my and my children’s life. I prayed every week in church that my then husband would die so that I could re-marry, divorce being forbidden. Oh yes, I also wished he would meet another woman and leave me, then I would be ‘scott-free’, divorce wise. Some of you know how that goes.


My main concern by this time was keeping myself emotionally intact. I prayed, read my bible every day, and lived the best life I knew how to live. But I was mentally unstable (I thought I was a raving lunatic, actually) and neither God nor my religion relieved me of my mental afflictions.


I finally, after compiling and teaching yet another bible class, this time about women of the bible, came to the realization that I did not believe a word I was writing. As I was ‘preaching’ my mind was crowded with conflicted thoughts. Ironically, that presentation brought the congregation to tears. So when my pastor called me the following week to commend me on my presentation, and to ask me if I would be a part of the next seminar, I declined. I did not have a conscious plan never to attend church again, but that is what came out of my mouth. Believe me, I was as astonished as that pastor was, to hear myself tell him that I would never step foot in church again because I didn’t believe what I was teaching, and to this day I have not entered another church in order to worship. And the weekly Sabbath headaches ceased immediately. My body knew what my mind was not willing to admit.


I could not justify my leaving the church. I could not prove anything biblically. All I knew, at that time, was that all the promises of inner peace, contentment, joy, and love did not come about. I am not all that happy, peaceful, contented or joyous now, and I know that it is up to me to find my own place. I am no longer angry with churches, I was never angry with the people for the most part, and I am doing my best to live the remainder of my life with the freeing knowledge that no one is watching me (no God & no Angels & no Devils & no Saints!) and I don’t care anyway, if someone is. I embrace the idea that it is none of my business what opinion others have of me, and that includes any God that may or may not exist. (I, personally, cannot believe in a personal, loving God that interacts with human beings. I suppose a god of some sort may exist, but I find that a difficult concept to grasp, and I don’t believe there is a god of any kind. No one has been able to convince me otherwise, and I have no need to search for something that has not been and cannot be proven.)


I am entering yet another personal testimony (this is my 3rd or 4th but the site keeps ‘moving’) because I read what Common Sense had to say (http://www.isquaredonline.com/JTP/frontpage.html) and I hope I can be an encouragement to continue searching.


I also want to say that I went to Catholic schools most of my childhood and the inculcation is difficult to get past. How do you change the way you have been taught to look at life, after all, from infancy? So I have compassion for many Christians, and KUDOS TO ALL OF US HERE THAT ESCAPED!


Cheers to my favorite people, nuts as you all are, and love to you today—


Mah Jong (my childhood nickname, my real name is Mary Jane)

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Welcome, again!


I do find encouragement in your story. Thanks for posting.

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Thank you for posting your story, I completely understand how hard it is to turn around on your faith after going through 8 years of Catholic school.

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Your comment about the Saturday headaches you used to have really struck a cord with me. My dad used to, and may still, suffer from headaches every Saturday after church. My mom used to refer to it as his Sabbath headache because it occured so frequently.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Thank you, Mah Jong, for posting your testimony once again. I read some pain in your words and I doubt it's just my imagination. Sometimes, I have to wonder what our lives would have been like in their various twists and turns, if we had never been exposed to the mind virus of Christianity, especially at such an early age, not to mention the years we wasted on studying the Bible that could have been used to better advantage. Perhaps, that's why I see some sadness here. The loss of time can never be restored to us and that is a tragedy.


Nevertheless, we escaped and I'm so glad that we did! While we can't get our yesterdays back, we own today and the future appears to be in the best possible hands -- our own.


Towards wholeness,


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Hey mahjong-


Very touching story. I think there's a lot that even non-catholic/JW xer's can relate to. The confusion, the unhappiness, etc. sounds just like what I went through.


Well, here's to us - all of us that managed to make it out! Life gets better and better every year we're away from that death cult.


Thanks for your ex-imony! :grin:

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