Breaking Up Is Hard to Do
In all my excitement of honyock restaurant trips and vomiting children (Oh, yes, that was my Monday.), I almost forgot to share my news:
I broke up with my Jehovah’s Witness.
Before I go any further, I would like to say that I mean no offense to those who belong to the Jehovah’s Witness religion. I know you have to knock on doors, and those of you whom I’ve met have been extremely friendly people! I just don’t happen to subscribe to your beliefs. Please–no hate mail!
Okay, so this certain man has been knocking on my door nearly every Saturday for probably at least 3 months. It started out with just him. Then he started bringing his preschool-aged son, and finally his wife began joining us. It started out all nice and cordial, and I didn’t mind visiting with them, but it was becoming just a bit awkward.
For one thing, nearly every time they came and I’d speak to them in the doorway, mass chaos would be erupting behind me. The dog was barking or jumping. Kids were in their underwear running up and down the stairs. Shoes, bags, and random Lego pieces littered the entryway. It was becoming a bit embarrassing, and there was no way I was going to invite them inside to witness the circus up close and personal. The poor wife and son would be shivering bravely as the husband continued his probing into if I think God will end the suffering in the world. Did I feel guilty? Yes. Did I feel guilty enough to invite them in? No.
I was also feeling a bit guilty about all of the trees I was killing by taking their literature each week. I did read some of it because I was interested to know exactly what they believed, but most of it ended up in the recycle bin. I barely have time to devote to my own Bible study, let alone the Bible study of a religion I don’t agree with.
I repeatedly told the man that I didn’t mind visiting with him, but I was committed to my own beliefs and there was zero chance of converting me. He told me, and I later confirmed by reading Christianity 101’s World Religions 101: A Guide to Spiritual Beliefs (Does the fact that I’m reading this for fun make me a big nerd?), that it’s still important to them to talk to people about God, whether or not they want to convert to Jehovah’s Witness. In fact, they have to knock on so many doors every Saturday to meet their “quota.”
But I was sensing that he was getting a little annoyed with me. His comments began to almost feel accusatory, like I should feel guilty for not being home several Saturdays when he came by. I was starting to feel obligated to him and his family, which was just a little weird. Then came, “Is there a time when we can just come over and talk on Saturdays?” as he eyed the wild savages behind me. I told him that Saturdays were kind of tough. Then he asked me the question that made me laugh out loud: “Do they take naps?”
My reply? “Wouldn’t that be nice?” I mean, putting aside the fact that they’ve never really been nap-takers, they’re 11, 7, and 4 1/2, for crying out loud! I don’t expect them to willfully sleep during the day until maybe when they’re teenagers. Finally I told him Saturday early afternoon was better, and he said he’d come next Saturday at 1:00. And then he wrote his phone number down for me in case I wouldn’t be able to make “our appointment.”
After I closed the door, Husband yelled down from upstairs, “What time are they coming next week so I can make sure I’m gone?” Not that he’s a Jehovah’s Witness hater or anything; he just didn’t see the point in continuing this relationship when I had no interest in converting. And frankly, neither did I, but this guy was kind of a smooth talker, and I am kind of a big chicken when it comes to any type of confrontation. Thus, the reason my “friend” kept coming back.
Finally after days of deliberating on what I would say, I sucked up the courage (and I always have MUCH more courage when it’s not IN PERSON) to call him and break the news: It was over.
My nerve started to weaken a bit when he answered with an abrupt, “Hello?!” after which I told him my name. Silence. I sputtered out who I was and that I couldn’t make our “date” on Saturday and then closed my eyes and explained quickly that I didn’t think we should see each other at all anymore. Just like ripping off a Band-Aid.
There was an attempt at changing my mind, but I stood firm. I told him that I felt that I was wasting his time, and that he would be better serving his mission by visiting with other people who either would be more receptive to his interpretation of Christianity or who needed to be introduced to God. That person wasn’t me.
He didn’t sound quite as friendly when we said our goodbyes, and I tried not to feel like I’d led him on. After all, I didn’t ask him to knock on my door. And I had tried to tell him many times; he just didn’t want to listen.
At least next Saturday I don’t have to be horrified by standing in the doorway for 15 minutes and chatting with a family all the while thinking about the fact that I still had total bedhead and trying to make sure they didn’t get close enough to notice that a toothbrush hadn’t yet grazed my teeth.
Is there a reason these things only seem to happen to me?
Oddly enough, it’s my husband who tries to be nice to people such as that. In fact, I have to make sure it’s ME to answers the door or telephone so that he doesn’t get suckered by anyone. The reason why this is so odd is because I’m the more introverted person. But when it comes to anyone wasting my time, I lose patience in less than 2 seconds and become scary rude. My harsh / rude response and angry stares causes people to want to leave and NEVER come back. Life is just too short to be wasting time trying to appease people.
If only I had the number to the JW's that come to my door! *sigh* The last time she was here, she asked if we could get together one time & she come in to talk more in depth about this. I really don't even want to open the door to them, period! Much less have them come in! I think I just will stop answering the door altogether.
You much nicer than I am. I don’t have the patience to have the conversation, let alone multiple conversations over a period of time.
I think you handled it very well, staying firm and not bending in your beliefs. That could have been a hard thing to do, but you are strong in your faith. Good for you!!
What a great blog post. I think you handled it really well.
As a former JW myself, I can confirm that they don’t have to knock a quota of doors every Saturday morning. Rather, they need to report the amount of time spent doing so.
If a person wishes to, they can enroll as an ‘auxiliary pioneer’. This means that they have committed at least 50 hours that month to speaking to people about the Jehovah’s Witness religion.
You may be interested to know that the man calling on you would refer to you as “a call” and would report a “return visit” for each time he found you at home.
If he was using the Bible during his chats with you he may even have viewed you as a “door-step Bible study” and would have reported one “bible study” on his monthly report.
JW men are expected to perform to a certain standard in the door-to-door work, achieving around 10 hours preaching per month. If a JW male manages to do this regularly, they will be considered for ‘further privileges’ in their congregation.
I find it puzzling that JWs are still using such an arcane method of delivering what they, in sincerity, consider to be ‘life saving’ information. Speaking from experience, you can go for hours and not speak to anyone while out door knocking. Quite why they don’t use the internet to reach millions of people is strange.
Well done to you, though, for handling the whole experience with dignity and tact.
wordsforliving, at least you’re assertive! I’m trying to be better, but I find myself saying “yes” when I’m thinking “no” way too often! Thanks for commenting! I’d love to hear from you more!
Amy and Kellyn, thanks for the support! I try to always start saying “no thank you” with kindness, even to telemarketers! But it often backfires as I get sucked into situations I don’t want to be in. *sigh*
Mark, thank you so much for sharing! I find that so fascinating, and I totally appreciate your correcting me on the “door quota” thing. I really am interested in learning about other religions, mostly because if I ever have the opportunity to enter a conversation with someone of a different religion, I want to know the facts so I can better explain why I believe that Christianity is the only truth. But I think that any conversation has to begin (and end) with a mutual respect. Thanks so much for commenting, and I hope to hear more from you!
These things happen to you because you are NICE. You have to learn not to be NICE to these people.
As an agnostic married to a Jew raising religiously confused children in the Bible Belt, I learned very quickly that NICE meant a long conversation I didn’t really want to have.
If that perpetuates their stereotypes about us agnostic/Jews with religiously confused children, well, shucks. At least I didn’t have to listen to a lecture about how Jesus was reborn in Utah.
BTW, I love your new header/logo/thingy. Very much boy.
By taking their literature and engaging them in conversation, you help them immerse themselves even further into the jw high control group (cult). Association with the jw organization, also known as Watchtower Society, is much like being in an abusive marriage. The abuser uses disempowerment, highly structured authoritarian pecking orders, and “humbling” to keep the victim feeling powerless and dependent. Then the victim is ripe for manipulation.
jws who do not “make their time” and “place literature” are looked down upon and more likely to leave because they are already losing status, friendship, and respect in the church. My suggestion is to not help them stay in this abusive relationship by letting them “count their time” and literature placements with you. Put a “No Trespassing/No jws” sign on your property and do not answer the door when they ignore it. Better yet, write a letter to your local jw branch and state you wish to be placed on the permanent “do not call” list.
The Mother, I’m trying to “just say no” more, but this need to appease people is pretty well ingrained in this 37-year-old brain! I really don’t understand when people think that talking AT people about their religious beliefs is really going to get anyone to change their mind. I think it’s more about living your beliefs and for me, hoping other people will see Christ IN me. And showing respect for others, no matter WHAT their beliefs, which often just means quit trying to shove your beliefs down their throat! Thanks for commenting!!
rebel8, what a great perspective! I never thought about ignoring them as HELPING them, but you’re absolutely right. Thanks so much for commenting. I really appreciate your insight!
pjmomof3boys – happy to chip in with my thoughts. I write a blog on the teachings and doctrines of Jehovah’s Witnesses and I try to compare them with what the Bible actually says. I also write for http://www.freeminds.org which is a site designed to help people break free from the mental slavery they may find themselves in, whether JWs or not.
I would never recommend being harsh, unfriendly or cruel to JWs. They are sincere in their efforts to help you, even though their sincerity is misplaced.
It may be helpful to try and reason with them on their beliefs.
For example, the biggest belief of JWs is that Christ returned invisibly to rule in heaven in 1914. However, to reach this date they use the date 607BC as the starting point. Their reason for doing so is that they are taught that Jerusalem was destroyed in 607BC. A quick search on Wikipedia will tell you that date is absolutely false.
So, ask a JW why they use a false date to arrive at 1914!
My blog http://jehovahswitness.tumblr.com
Just as a follow-up, this article may be of interest as it discusses how closely JWs come to the 1st C Christian model
Good job, Paula. Don’t feel guilty for standing up for your beliefs, (guilt never comes from God anyway), especially when you did it in a respectful way. (This is coming from your equally non-assertive sister…) If any of them happen to come to your door again, just don’t send them to the house behind you! I might have to make the kids hit the deck and hide from them like I did when they kept coming to my old house. I seriously think that’s part of the reason I moved…Just kidding! But I was glad to go to a new neighborhood where I didn’t have to worry about them coming to the door and saying, “Hi Pam.”
great post! we have had similar situations here with Latter Day Saints.
I loved the part about if the kids take naps. Not only was that funny, given the age of your kids, but it’s like he doesn’t understand how precious the nap time is if you’re trying to run a household! i need my kids’ nap time and definitely miss it when i don’t get it!
Pam, I already gave them your name. Didn’t think you’d mind. 🙂
Lisa, what makes the nap thing even funnier is that my boys have NEVER taken naps. And they don’t ever fall asleep early either. I don’t know how three active boys can require so little sleep! Hope your family is doing well!!
JW’s refer to the preaching work as Field Service. At the end of each they have to submit a Field Service Report containing details like number of hours spent in service, number of return visits and Bible studies and number of books\booklets\magazines etc placed with householders.
OMG. UGH! I cannot believe you allowed that to go on as long as you did. I have had to be rude at times, and I hate that. Now I just open the door and say I’m not interested. Glad you were able to end an uncomfortable situation.
As a JW I respect your feelings and viewpoints.I appreciate that you are a polite and friendly woman. But were candid with this man and that is good.You feel the way you feel and that’s it. You did the right thing. I can tell you have a kind spirit. And I can assure you JW’s do not want to waste people’s time if you have no interest in our message. We are a busy people too.
As a person who has knocked on many doors, I found this statement you made most interesting.
“For one thing, nearly every time they came and I’d speak to them in the doorway, mass chaos would be erupting behind me. The dog was barking or jumping. Kids were in their underwear running up and down the stairs. Shoes, bags, and random Lego pieces littered the entryway. It was becoming a bit embarrassing, and there was no way I was going to invite them inside to witness the circus up close and personal.”
If you only knew how many times that happens, when a mother or father with kids shows an interest in our message.
The curious question is WHY?
Anyways thanks for sharing, it gives us insight into what is happening on the other side of the door.
Have a very happy life 🙂