March 24, 2008 - (no) faith without truth....
make the truth your own...

Today I asked myself a tough question, "Why Am I A Jehovah's Witness?" Yes, it was in caps just like that, because for me this is a scary question. I've never really liked questioning my foundations. It's not that I've never thought about it, I have plenty of times. Usually it's when I'm reminded of some reason why I continue to make this choice. But I never ask myself unless a reason is foremost on my mind. After I feel like I've been blessed in some special way, or after I've learned something new from the Bible.

But it's not like I ever sat down and planned it out, wrote down my vision and my reasons why. I probably should have done that at the beginning, but everyone needs to do it at some point. Especially when it's not foremost on your mind, or when you're making decisions that run counter to this great big decision. Today I was thinking about all of the things I've always wanted to do. I've always wanted to travel the world, teach English in foreign lands, take up karate, be a singer-songwriter, take up yoga, be a flight attendant, join a commune, go to university, live in a bunch of different places, date and so many other things. I don't want to choose any one thing, any one path, my path is to explore and do anything I want to do and to be free. Over the years, I have frequently come up with one scheme or another, thought about and planned out this or that, and the one thing that stopped me was the fact that none of these things have anything to do with serving Jehovah. Some of them may run directly counter to being a Jehovah's Witness, but with most of my goals that isn't the problem. The problem is that I wouldn't be serving Jehovah first and foremost, and the only ways I know to serve Jehovah are from being a Jehovah's Witness.

So that is why I asked myself, "Why Am I A Jehovah's Witness?" It was an uncomfortable time for me to ask the question, because I didn't have reasons readily apparent. In fact, foremost on my mind were all the ways in which I am not a Jehovah's Witness and all the things I thought I'd rather be doing. I thought about field service, going to meetings, studying, socializing with Friends, teaching about the Bible and the Kingdom hope. And I honestly thought, "Those are not my reasons, they can't be, because I don't do any of them and never have, not with any consistency at all, and rarely with great enjoyment. Nor do I look forward to doing those things, mainly I look forward to being the kind of person who does those things regularly." I know, I know bipolar and social anxiety and all that, but deep down inside I didn't think I really wanted to do any of those things anyway. I mean, I
could and would, but where was the zeal? Where were the reasons? What kind of Jehovah's Witness finds little joy in doing any of those things? What else is there to being a Jehovah's Witness? And if I do have reasons, how do I connect those reasons to actual service and actually being a member of the congregation (question yet to be answered)?

I couldn't think of any answers to the central question of "Why". So I approached the question from another angle, "What would I lose?" How would my life, my actual life and my actual person (not the potential or things I could do but don't do), seriously change for the worse? What is necessary and completely irreplaceable about "the truth"? What could I put up against that list of all the things I want to do that would make that list pale in comparison? What would make that list worthless without it? Eventually I had some main answers, some reasons, some things that I can get absolutely nowhere else and could never live without.

1. The chance to know and have a relationship with Jehovah God. If I am not a Witness, then God has no purpose. Without a purpose, without a Reason Why, then God is not a person to me, I could never know Him. He'd be some nebulous Idea, not a father, a provider, a love-r. And since I know deep in my soul that God exists, I would be cut off.

2. All of the insights I have gleaned from the Bible and all of the encouraging thoughts I have found there are intimately tied to my concept of Jehovah and my relationship with Him. If I lose my relationship with Jehovah, then I lose the Bible.

3. Dating was on my list of things I really want to do and feel hampered in doing. Of course Witnesses date and get married, but the pool of availability is small and even smaller for me. So what would be the difference if I left and dated worldly men, having a much larger pool to choose from and actually having the ability to find people who share my interests? I would not be able to find men who have the same values, understanding of God, spiritual dimension and love of the Bible as I do. The
same, not just any. As a Witness, I've had difficulty finding people (friends, dating interests, whatever) who share my interests. As a non-Witness, it would be impossible for me to find anyone with the same values, the same understanding of God, the same appreciation and understanding of the spiritual dimension, and the same love of the same Bible (not translation, but the same understanding of the Bible) that I have. I wouldn't want to marry anyone who didn't share any one of these things with me, and I have no interest in just casually dating or casually committing to people.

4. My hope for the future of mankind comes from my knowledge of the Bible, my relationship with Jehovah, and the opportunity to know a community of people who are far more advanced in love than any other ever has or will be for all the flaws. I am rather weightily impacted by the complete lack of hope and all of the doubts about humanity's future. The system is so wrong, so messed up, it cannot be fixed. I have spent time with politics, non-profits and other entities and I have dabbled in "solutions". They are so woefully incomplete, inadequate and the system is absolutely designed to fail. This is as clear to me as the day is long. I cannot be satisfied with a life without long-term hope. I can't live with saying "not my problem, I'll find my own happiness, then I'll die and whatever happens, happens." Of course I'd have to find a cause but there would always be the nagging problem of the futility of it all. I can't deal with politics because of the shallowness of it all. There can never be any solutions and no one who will ever matter wants any. This world is set up so the wrong people succeed and the weak suffer and perish. It has always been that way and becomes more "that way" every single day. I could never be happy with making a small or temporary difference, I just couldn't. I would lose any long-term hope and the real feeling that a difference can and will be made. I need that just to function through the day. I need that just to open my eyes every day and live. I could never read another book, I could not listen to music, I could not communicate, I could not imagine if I had no real Hope.

5. I have complete answers, not half-hearted solutions and platitudes. More than intuition and feelings, I do need answers, real ones, complete and whole ones, Big Picture answers. I have looked into other people's answers and other religions and philosophies, I have. I have always found answers to be interesting and have an intellectual fascination with them, but depth, interconnectedness and reason I have found in only one place. I am a person with a lot of questions, every day, all the time. I can't shut that part of my brain off. I also seek mystical and meta-answers. I need answers that are all-encompassing, otherwise I am dissatisfied. I have those answers now, and I have compared and contrasted. Other answers may give a nice feeling, other solutions are interesting to map out and ponder, but nothing ever fits together. I need everything to fit or I throw the whole thing out.

This is what I thought about to start with. All of these Reasons are compelling to me. They become obvious after I even start to think of them. I attack them from different angles but for me there are no holes. I'm going to print this out and keep this with me, because it's some of the most intense thinking I've ever done, and the most secure I've ever felt with regard to the truth. I still feel like there's a lot more that has to be considered. I mean, I've grown on paper. But how to transform paper growth into real growth? And how do I connect any of this to actual service of Jehovah? How does it become tangible, practical, really real? I don't know yet.

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