I knew God was talking to me

Sent in by Debbie J

Living in the heart of the south and going to school with people who live in the Bible Belt of Georgia has its ups and downs. The major up is that everyone is friendly. The major down is that they're only friendly until they ask THE question: "So, what church do you go to?"

I give a stock answer, "I don't go to church. I don't have the facilities to go at this point in time. I'll keep in touch, though." - which is, of course, a blatant lie.

The truth is, I was born in a little Spanish-speaking island called Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico is a big city, packed into a small island - but I digress. The highlight of my life in Puerto Rico is that I was a Jehovah's Witness. We'll start from the beginning ...

The earliest memory I have of the Kingdom Hall (the Jehovah's Witness church) is sitting in the back row, just my mother and I, behind a woman with four kids - two of which were to leave for college the upcoming year, the other two, my age (about five or six). The sermon ("talk") being given was about Judgment Day. It was a Sunday, so we were reading from our Watchtowers (little study booklets that everyone has), so there were pictures. I could read a little bit at this time - it was much easier with the elder reading right out of the Watchtower. I could follow along and make out the words.

But what really stuck out to me that day was the picture on the page. The sky was a terrifying shade of orange, the clouds a shade of gray. The sun was nowhere to be seen. As your eyes moved down the horizon, the sky gradually blurred into an angry shade of red. Fire and meteors rained from the sky. People were screaming in terror. The four horsemen were running from one of the horrifyingly gray clouds in the sky. There was a skeleton riding one of the horses that gave me nightmares for years. In the background were dead bodies aflame.

This was what a just God was going to do in the next few years. Any day now, this was going to happen. Any day now.

"Mom, is that really going to happen?" I asked in the car. The image burned through my thoughts like the fires burned through those dead bodies in the picture.

"Yes."

"When?"

"Don't ask that. Only God knows."

"Does Jesus know?"

"Only God knows."

"Who's going to die?"

"The people who do not serve God."

"What if I know them, though?"

"You won't want to know them on Judgment Day. You might just die with them, if you are not careful."

I did not want to die on Judgment Day. Being the small child I was, I was under the impression that it would be the following day. I came home, went into my room, and cried.

I was thirteen when I realized something was wrong. We moved from PR to Georgia - the deep south - to be with my sister. Something had to be wrong, because I didn't like the new church. I didn't quite like the people; they were a little odd. Or was I not giving them a chance? These were God's people, after all. They were the sheep. Any one of these people could be a wolf in sheep's clothing, though. I was weary of all of them. I might burn on Judgment Day if I'm not careful.

I grew more and more distant from these people as the days went by. Something is wrong, I thought. I prayed to God for help. I told Him He was all I needed, and to just tell me what to do.

He didn't answer.

So I paid closer attention when the elders spoke.

" ... God answers those who have their hearts in the right place ... "

I have my heart in the right place, don't i?

" ... if your heart is in the right place, yet He does not answer, you are most certainly doing something wrong ... "

Shit.

I stopped going to the church.

I decided they were wrong. I didn't know why, but they were wrong. Something in my head told me not to keep going.

And then, I spoke to a "real" Christian. The ones that Jehovah's Witnesses referred to as "one of the wolves in sheep's clothing." I always thought the JWs were the "real" Christians here. I guess I was wrong, right?

In a flash, I considered myself a Christian. I only talked to Christian people. I went on atheist forums and told them they were wrong and I was right, and they were going to burn in Hell. I knew God was talking to me. He spoke to me with his silence - his silence that said I was right, and to bask in the glory of it. He did not need to speak to me to "say" I was right and they were wrong.

Two months later, I was feeling doubtful again. I turned to my new friends for help. They said to pray. I received a letter in the mail that day from an organization, saying they felt compelled to "pray over" my household. I thought it was a sign from God.

Years later, I have a panic attack. I had just told someone to go to Hell, then he'd believe me when I said that God was real. I remembered that picture from my childhood days. The fires, the pure looks of terror in the faces of the poorly-drawn men, women, and children ... the four horsemen; the skeleton.

Do you know what a panic attack is? It's when you are laying in bed, and you don't know how or why, but you know that you're about to die. Suddenly, you can't breathe. You feel like you're drowning. You're choking. The tears burn cold on your face, and you realize you're crying too. Why is this happening? Lord, HELP ME! LORD! ... GOD, JESUS, ANYONE, I'M CALLING YOU... WHY WON'T YOU ANSWER? ...

I stopped. I could breathe a little bit. The thought came into my head like a slap in the face. "Debbie," the thought read, "Lord isn't answering, because he is imaginary. He doesn't exist, Debbie. You were wrong. They were wrong. Everyone was wrong. He's not there, Debbie."

The images swirled in my mind. ... All of my friends, my family, the family of my friends ... the cross I saw yesterday ... the dream I had two days ago ... the pictures from my years of Jehovah's Witness teachings ... the pamphlets from my dearest friends' church ... ... fires cut through the images in my mind ... and when the fires are gone, I wake up. I realized I had had a panic attack, and I had been sleeping on the floor in my bedroom. Who saw me, I wondered?

"Lord, why did you let that happen to me?"

There was no answer. I spent days waiting for an answer. The days turned to weeks. I became a shell of what I once was. There was no longer a point in living, no reason to keep going. My life's purpose was defeated. My other minor goals (like going to college) suddenly meant nothing. After fifty years it would all be gone, anyway.

I looked at everything differently. The world was so terribly lonely, and I felt so terribly small. The loneliness was so terribly overwhelming. I wanted to kill myself. I couldn't go on, I thought to myself. This is all a waste of time. Who cares about relationships, or food, or movies or parties or anything? This went on for weeks.

And then, one day, reality struck me. "What the hell are you doing, Debbie? This is real. God's not there; he was your imaginary friend, and all you did was grow up." ... My goals came back, but I looked at them in a different light. I don't have to worry about God interfering with my plans, telling me to be some evangelist or youth minister or anything else. I don't have to worry about church - I can just relax on Sundays, while everyone else goes to church. Ignorance is bliss.

I'm glad to be alive today. If I ever meet someone harboring a doubt about Christianity, I would feel extreme sorrow for him, as I always would have.

Only, this time, I wouldn't pray for him.

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28 comments:

Anonymous said...

Debbie, great Post. I am happy for your new-found freedom. Your story is very interesting and I'm sure you will be a help to all seeking to break the chain / link to their imaginary god.

This site has been very helpful.

Joe said...

Thanks for giving me yet another reason to smile today. Liberation stories are beautiful and you laid yours out wonderfully. Reality is cool.

Telmi said...

Debbie,

Welcome to the club of the enlightened, now that you have found enlightenment.

paul said...

Debbie,
That was great and well written. I got my morning laugh with your comment "shit." Yeah, that about sums it up, lol.

You do know, of course, that the "panic attack" was really a "demonic attact?" And those voices telling you God is not real, them were daemons. Which begs the question: with all the prayers you offered up to "God", why was it that only 'demons' answered?

"Seek and you will find?" It seems there is no bigger cure for Christianity than sincere belief.

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freedy said...

There nothing darker on this earth than the Jehovah's Witnesses.
They prey on the lonely and confused more than any cult or religion out there.
If there ever was a case for removing tax free status for religions,it would be these bastards.
Thank's for posting your story.

THE ACE said...

Debbie: I enjoyed your letter. I also used to have panic attacks, although mine were due to a chemical imbalance that runs in my
family. I know how frightening they
can be.

Also, your comment on the "End of
the World" picture struck a chord.
Growing up, my parents had all sorts of Christian propaganda around the house, and I remember
one book with a two-page illustration that showed a pitch-black sky above a city that was
being consumed by a huge fire.
About the middle of the picture was a warship sinking, and in the
sky was this golden circle of light with Jesus in the middle,
returning to earth. In the foreground were dozens of people,
lifting up their hands and grinning like maniacs! This scared the heck out of me! All I could
think of was "All the earth has
just been destroyed with tremendous violence, and these
people are thrilled about it. Are they crazy?"

Anyway, best wishes to you. I hope you'll be writing more soon.

Bill said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bill said...

Debbie said,

"I don't have to worry about church - I can just relax on Sundays."

I loved that line : ). God Damn I used to hate getting my ass out of bed on Sundays for church. Now both Saturday and Sunday are very sacared sleeping in days.

Great story. It does warm my heart to hear yet another soul has decided to side with reason and throw superstision to the wind.

Once you become a totally enlightened atheist, you couldn't believe again if you had to. I hope you are well on your way.

I have worked with a JW for many years and know really nothing about him. He just seems to live his life in isolation. Can JW's hang out with non JW's as friends? To me it doesn't seem like they can.

xrayman

May 25, 2007

Nvrgoingbk said...

Bill, from my experience studying with the JW's and befriending one for quite sometime, I would have to say that they are discouraged from having true friendships outside the faith unless they are attempting to convert them. As long as my friend Shannon thought she could convert me she kept me around, but our time together had to always involve going to Kingdom Hall with her or studying. Once she saw that I knew the "Word" better than she did, she just gave up. JW's are even more exclusive regarding outside acquaintences than any of the other denominations I've visited.

Debbie, I was to the point of suicide in the last few months of my Christian experience. My entire Christian life was like a constant mind fucking and I never did get to orgasm. What a waste of sixteen years of my life.

Anonymous said...

Reminds me of a casual friend of mine, of South Asian ethnicity, mid-twenties, bi-sexual, cross dressing (very passable in drag shows) and highly creative and compassionate (working in health care). He was baptised Catholic but converted to JW. He too has panic attacks and sometimes smokes weed to calm himself down. He also uses other recreational drugs along with alcohol. I've told him he's a walking contradiction. He's told me he really requires a very strict set of guidelines and every so often once a month or so he just lets loose. I've joked with hinm many times that Catholicism with its' confessional wasn't strict enough and so becoming a JW made sense. I am genuinely worried about him. I've sent him links to this site suggesting he at least give it a read and maybe get a different perspective on life.

Anonymous said...

Religion has made fools of us all (even atheists). Think about how stupid it is for us to argue about whether or not something we've never experienced with any of our senses exists when it is passed off as the very reason for our existence.
I left Christianity because I had panic attacks too; I was afraid God would be vindictive for some of the morally questionable things I had done (like forgetting to pay a tip at a restaurant). For those who take Christianity too seriously, it can create insanity.

A. Ford

Epicurienne said...

I hate the people who are actually looking forward to the end of the world.

They're happy at the prospect of billions of people dying in horrible ways. They don't care that many of these people might not have wanted to die right then.

But they (the Christians) are the "good, compassionate" ones. Right....

David said...

You guys spouting imaginary God are probably the ones God will destroy in hell. I think God has mercy on those who at least try to believe but for you guys who purposely speak blasphemy against God, you will be destroyed. Oh yeah, Jesus loves you.

Anonymous said...

Jesus still loves you

.:webmaster:. said...

Hi David,

Jesus loves me? That's great!

I wonder why he would torture me in everlasting horrific agony just for being disrespectful? Have you ever dissed your parents? Do you think you parents would be showing you love by torturing you for a few decades in the basement?

Yet, your you say your god loves me but is going to sadistically torture me forever just for not believing HE exists.

Wow, that is amazing grace, isn't it? It's amazing that anyone would call your god's behavior love.

.:webmaster:. said...

Hey David,

I have a song for you: CLICK HERE TO LISTEN.

David said...

Lol, webmaster on the song. He'll **** me up huh. God is not a bad guy but if you guys want to paint that picture than so be it.

Anonymous said...

"God is not a bad guy but if you guys want to paint that picture than so be it."

God is not a bad guy, eh? How do you know this? What is your source of knowledge concerning 'God's' character?? What is your basis of understanding about this entity you supposedly worship?? ...and how do you know he's a 'guy'? Has he got a penis? Seriously, though - I ask you for just one shred of evidence to support your supposition of 'God'. Thanks, -Wes.

BTW: I LOVED that song! Who is the artist? Thanks, WM! -Wes.

fjell_strom said...

Two things, Dave (WM):

First - (just musing here) I have to wonder how it was known that SALT was the substance into which Lot's wife was transformed, as salt is a pretty odorless substance. I mean, it could have well been sugar from a visual standpoint. Did someone have to taste her to figure out what she'd been turned into? You know, horse a little bit of Lot's wife on your corn on the cob?

Second - Considering all the drive-by witnessing that goes on here, and how much of it does nothing to bring anything substantial to the table since much of it is akin to: "I am a dedicated Christian and not all Christians are as bad as you think. You obviously don't know God like I do. I am the real thing, baby. You should read a Bible. You've obviously never read one. God loves you but you are rejecting Him. Why? If God isn't real then why are you spending so much time talking about Him? Sounds like in the back of your mind you know He's there. He loves you but you've rejected him and unless you repent you're going to H-E-double hockey sticks. -Anonymous"

...considering this is the case, I wondered if it wouldn't be a good idea to have a big glaring red button on the main page which reads, "If you're a True Christian TM, push this button"

...and of course, the button leads them to a page where they find stock refutations of the broken-record like rantings which a high percentage of them are likely to spew at the bottom of some unsuspecting thread.

You know, cut them off at the pass?

Let them know that certain methods of debate are not necessarily closed, but wholly superfluous.

I have the feeling we could spare ourselves a lot of head-shaking (as fun as it is to read things like, "You hate God? That's sad. Oh well, see you in Hell.").

You at least see where I'm coming from here. I'm suggesting that some really conspicuous form of "preemptive" argument be plastered onto the mainpage, for better or worse. Just to save us from things like, "If you don't worship God, you worship sex, drugs and rock and roll and Satan lives in your heart and where do you get your morals from and I guess you believe it's okay to kill people since morality's relative and blah blah blah..."

Is there no simple way to curtail a great portion of this...?

fjell

Debbie J. said...

Thanks for your comments, guys. I'm glad I got a chance to share it with you guys :D

Bill,
JW's are indeed heavily discouraged from having outside associations. They cannot date/marry outside of the faith, and any friendships they have outside of the faith can only be casual. I'm not sure how they can have a true relationship with anyone, because once they get into a real relationship, there are all kinds of "guidelines" to follow as far as what to talk about, what to do, etc. If you choose to leave the faith, you are "disfellowshipped" - which is just a pretty word for excommunicated. It's more painful than it may sound. I've seen people get kicked out, only to attempt suicide later on.

Ace,
It doesn't cease to amaze me how people can be thrilled about the end of the world in such a horrible way. Hopefully, one day rationality will strike them below the belt, eh?

Thanks again for the comments, guys. I appreciate all of them. I'm glad to hear some people can relate.

By the way, David? You humor me. I'm glad to hear Jesus loves me. I'm guessing the flames are just for decoration?

-Debbie

charlieman17 said...

Debbie -
I understand your attack - I have had them too, as a Christian. But they come when I am in opposition to my faith - when I am not in alignment with God's desire to give me happiness and protect me from my own self-destruction. The Bible says that we are drawn away from truth by our own lusts. It is easier to not believe, because then, you don't have to be accountable to God or anyone else. You can just do what you want to do.
I am not willing to take the chance of doubting Jesus Christ's existence in my life - I do feel His presence and other times it feels as though I am talking to a wall. Even David cried out to God, who loved Him and called him a man after His own heart, "How long O Lord before you answer me? Why do you turn your face away from me?" You see, it isn't that God does not exist - the separation or feeling that God is not there is simply what we might term for a child as a time out. A time out is necessary for the child to come to his senses and feel the aloneness long enough to recognize his need for the guidance and love and protecting boundaries of the adult father or mother. In the same way, Jesus lets us fester in our quietness and separation from Him when we have doubt, or sin in our lives so that we can recognize how miserable it is without His love and safe boundaries.
His rules or commands are not to have an iron thumb over us, but to protect us from harm - just as you might have a rule for a child to stay away from a fascinating stove with all its alluring knobs and handles and doors and shiny parts. You tell the child to stay away because of the hidden danger that she or he does not yet see . . . the fire inside that comes out only after you play with the knobs for a bit.

You see, God does not wish to punish us. Joel chapter 2: 12-14 Turn to the Lord while there is time! He is not easily angered. He is filled with kindness and is eager not to punish you.

I believe that you do not want to wake up one day to find judgment has approached and you have been found not in his protecting and loving arms because you have turned completely away from Him. He loves you so much. Satan goes around trying to deceive us. He is crafty and turns the truth of God into a lie. The Bible says he is subtle (subtle enough to cause you to imagine that God does not really exist so that he can get you in the end with eternal torment). Believe in Jesus Christ's love for you - He died so that you don't have to have panic and fear, but peace and hope and love in your heart. Don't give up on Him. He is patient and kind and does not want you to lose heart. I know it seems as though He is far off sometimes, or even that He does not exist. But so did your parents at times. That does not mean that they were not still there or that they stopped loving you. Even sinful parents don't give their daughters serpents when they ask for eggs. Jesus loves you and if a sinful parent can be absent and love you, think what a perfect God can do. He allows us just enough doubt to give us the freedom to believe in Him - not to make us like robots who have obvious programs that force them to do the tasks that men give them. He wants us to be free to make our own choices. He is a gentleman and will not force Himself on anyone.

Keep the faith, Debbie. Don't give up. God understands that you have been angry about the suffering in the world. You wouldn't be normal if you didn't feel that way. Even Jonah was angry at God for it and for making him go and minister to people who were evil. But read your Bible and get the truth. People who are telling you to believe what you want or that there is no God are fallible. The Word of God has been proven true time and time again. There are hundreds and hundreds of prophecies written about Christ thousands of years before he came, that He fulfilled. This would be impossible for any normal man. But Jesus proved himself to be God in the flesh when He died and then rose from the dead in three days. Be safe.

Imagine - If you choose to doubt God's existence and die, you may be right and go to sleep and nothing will happen. But if you choose to believe that He doesn't exist and you die and He is real, you will face eternal judgment.
You can't lose though, if you believe in Him, because if He doesn't exist, you will stay asleep forever after you die and never know a thing. But if He does exist, then you will be eternally safe and loved in His arms without judgment because Jesus will stand representing you no matter what you have done wrong, if you ask Him to forgive you your sins. He is faithful and just to forgive you and to cleanse you from all unrighteousness and there will be no condemnation for you!
What a great outlook and hope we have when we believe this way. So, you see - it doesn't matter if you believe in Jesus Christ when you die, because you win in either case - if He does exist - You win eternal live with him in his kingdom of joy, health, no more pain, fear, sadness or death. Or you simply die and never wake up. But if You don't believe in Him. If he doesn't exist, You go to sleep and never wake up - However, if He does exist and you didn't believe, you will have to face Him at judgment and He will sadly say to you -"I didn't know you, depart from me." Don't make the wrong choice. This is not hard to figure out. Choosing Christ is a win / win situation. But not choosing him is a possible win/ Lose situation.
Do you really want to take that chance with your soul if it is eternal?
Love in Christ,
Charlie

charlieman17 said...

Hi Debbie,

Please forgive some the spelling in the last blog to you. I had corrected them, but had to go and fill out the new member page and lost the corrected message.
In any case. I want you to know that I understand. I said everything I did out of love. Nothing here should be said in judgment if we are truly Christian (FOR THOSE OF US WHO CLAIM TO BE) Including ME.

Blessings,

Charlie

.:webmaster:. said...

Charlie,

If that was the best reason you can come up with to believe in your particular version of Christianity, don't you think it would be wise to accept the teachings of Islam as well? Allah is also calling to all of us, according to the Qu'ran. HE (Allah) doesn't want to punish us with an eternity of horrific torture and agony, supposedly, but if we don't love HIM, he'll have no choice, so the book says.

And HIS hell is so much hotter than Yahweh's, so I've been told.

It's something to think about, don't you think?

Besides, what loving parent would every torture their child for walking away? Is that really love?

Remember, Jesus loves you unconditionally, but if you don't fulfill the conditions HE prescribes, then HE promises to pour out the most sadistic, unimaginable and cruel punishment.

It just doesn't add up, Chuck. Either HE loves us like children or not. There is no way any Christian can resolve the dichotomy of this god who supposedly loves and yet creates a torture chamber where those who don't "get it" are kept alive forever in terror and pain.

Chuck,

Do you honestly believe that the "sins" you've committed in this life warrant an unending sentence of torture? If so, I'd love to know exactly what heinous crimes you've committed. You'd better at least be in jail right now.

Astreja said...

Charlieman, you and your religion are part of the problem. You are not, and never will be, a panacea for the agony that Debbie experienced.

I see you jumping through the same old apologetics hoops as the last batch of "True" Christians (and the batch before that, and the batch before that). After tarring and feathering all of humanity with the bogus brush of Original Sin, and attempting to put the fear of Hell into us, you offer the same ridiculous "remedy".

Your imaginary god's love is not, repeat not unconditional. You said, and I quote, "You see, God does not wish to punish us."

Yet, according to you, it does.

Either you're lying about the intentions of your god (assuming for one wild moment that it does exist and that you actually have the ability to correctly interpret its intentions)...

...Or it is powerless to restrain its own desire to punish non-believers...

...Or various religious writers, including the authors of the Bible and Al Qur'an, have slandered your god by portraying it as an egotist and a sadistic torturer. (I favour this particular hypothesis, myself. The concept of Hell is completely incompatible with the concept of a loving god.)

As Dave the Webmaster said, it just doesn't add up.

And I, for one, refuse to bend my knee to your idea of what a god might be. My own Ex-timony is here.

In the words of someone I love very much, "If we stop living because we fear death, then we have already died." To me, clinging to any belief out of fear is a truly terrifying living death. May you, too, find your way out of the labyrinth.

Debbie J. said...

Charlie,
I promise you, if you read what I wrote up there, you know I've spent years going through religious "issues." I can say that never once did god ever respond to anything I said to him (ever), and when he supposedly did, it could have easily been chalked up to coincidence. I've talked to Christians (of all genres, mind you) and atheists alike, and I can tell you I've heard every response you've got to say to me. I like how every time something good happens, god did it (praise deh lawd!) ... but when something bad happens, satan and his demons are to blame. I like how satan's ALWAYS taking an active role in my life.

I'll return the respect to you, Charlie, and I ask you do me a favor: Read your bible. Cover to cover. Take into account everything that happens - and watch how each writer will have a different thing to say than every other. I want you to watch what is said in both the Old and New Testament alike along with what Romans says about which laws you're supposed to keep.

One more thing: Don't do it if you aren't ready to have your entire world changed. It's fine and dandy if you want to stay in your little bubble, but once you choose to leave the bubble, you can see every other bubble, the spaces between them, and why the bubbles are so damn big.

boomSLANG said...

Charlie: The Bible says that we are drawn away from truth by our own lusts.

Oh boy..."the Bible says". That's right, folks, it "says".

Okay, on a scale of 1-10 for originality, that doesn't even register. Like, as former Christians, we never thought to look in the frickin' bible? lol

Goodness gracious, Chuck, at least tell us why anyone should put more merit into what the bible "SAYS", than what the Holy Q'ran "says"; what Dianetics "says"; what the Book of Mormon "says", or what "T'was the Night Before Christimas "says".

Seriously Chuck, how about if "T'was the Night before Christmas" included a statement that said, "this book is reliable because it's the Word of Santa, therefore, Santa exists, and He is comming to town"!"???(Hi, Mike Brown)

Well, Chuck???...would you be convinced?

Of course not(well, I would hope not), yet, this is the very circular reasoning that Christians use:

a) The Bible proves the existence of God.
b) The Bible is reliable because it is the word of God.

I was planning on commenting on a few more of your statements, but I've discovered upon further review, that I just don't have the patience for you right now, Chuck.

Yours, in reason.......and may you find reality, and cure yourself of your delusional superstitious ideas.

boomSLANG.

Anonymous said...

According to the babble god is the one who create lust. freedy

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