Every time I watch NFL football on TV, I think about my younger brother. It was my brother who got me started watching football games with him and he was the one who taught me all about the various teams. He had an electric football game that he had received for a gift as a birthday or Christmas gift before our family joined the Watchtower. He used to quiz me and had me learn the names of each team and what city they were affiliated with. He also trained me what the various referee signs meant during the game. By the time I got to high school and played in the band at our high school football games, I knew all about the game. I was very proud to be one of the only girls who actually KNEW what was going on during the game. No one had to really explain much to me because my little brother had taught me so well. He was also (and I believe still is) a San Francisco 49ers fan; I remember very clearly a poster of quarterback John Brodie in his room.
Another thing my brother did for me was to get me started making chocolate chip cookies. Our mother was a fabulous baker. She could bake breads, cinnamon rolls, cakes, and pies. She was great at all of that, except cookies. My mother could never master cookies. Her cookies came out like rocks. I don't know why they did, perhaps she overbaked them or over mixed the dough.
One day my brother and I were in the mood for some chocolate chip cookies. We know we could not ask our mother to bake them as we well knew they would come out like rocks. So we decided that we would take out my mother's old Betty Crocker cookbook and make the cookies ourselves. Mom always had all the ingredients we needed in the kitchen.
We followed the recipe exactly as the cookbook said. We mixed the sugars and butter with the egg. We added the flour, baking soda, and salt. We stirred in the chocolate chips. The oven was preheated to 375. We shaped the dough into little balls and carefully placed them on the cookie sheets and put them in the oven for 10 minutes. At the end of 10 minutes and after they cooled, we had the best cookies I have ever tasted. How did we both accomplish that and when we were no more than about 11 years old for me and 9 for him! I quickly became a very accomplished chocolate chip baker, thanks to my brother. Today, everyone loves my chocolate chip cookies. I even give cookies as birthday gifts now.
So what does this all have to do with having been a Jehovah's Witness or leaving the Watchtower? Well you see, when I disassociated myself from the Watchtower, my brother stopped speaking to me. It has now been over 35 years since I left the Watchtower organization and he and I have never had a conversation. If he sees me in public, he ignores me. Even in family gatherings where we happen to be in the same place, he behaves as though I'm invisible. He has been very obedient to the Watchtower's edicts concerning shunning former members whom they now consider to be "apostate." What makes me an apostate in their eyes? It is the fact that I became an Evangelical Christian and have accepted Jesus as my one and only Savior. I attend a Christian church, a church that the Watchtower teaches is part of Babylon the Great, because all churches, except for theirs, are false churches and part of Satan's organization. Since I run a support group for former Jehovah's Witnesses, he sees me as more of a "super apostate." Does it hurt? Yes it does. Do I still love him? Yes I do. I have missed him very much all these years.
I have hope that one day he will see the Watchtower hypocrisy and leave them. I would love to see him become a believer in the real Jesus Christ, the Jesus who died on a cross for all our sins, not just for the sins of Adam. I would love to see him find the real truth about who Jesus Christ is and that we do not need a contrived entity called the Faithful and Discreet Slave as our mediators to Jesus Christ.
There are several members of my family and extended family who are still part of the Watchtower and I remember them and pray for them all. Even though I do not know many of them because they grew up not knowing me and never met me, I love them and pray that they all will be released from the Watchtower chains that bind them.
Sometimes I think about how much in common he would have with both my husband and me. My husband happens to be a San Francisco 49ers fan, just like my brother. If my brother visited us on a Sunday afternoon, I bet my husband and my brother would both be together in camaraderie concerning that team.
I do not know what my brother's relationship is with the Watchtower right now. I am wondering if he really is a loyal true believer, or if he is just going through the motions and attending all their meetings just in case it happens to be true. I meet a lot of former Jehovah's Witnesses whose greatest fear is the "what if" part and the what if it all happens to be true? The Watchtower teaches that if you leave this "mother" organization that Jehovah God WILL destroy you in Armageddon. The Watchtower instills this unrealistic fear of all churches and has instilled a mistrust of every single church. That is why it is so hard for former Jehovah's Witnesses to attend another church let alone join another church. I once heard an elder at the Kingdom Hall proudly say from the podium that anyone who leaves the organization may not ever come back to the Kingdom Hall, but they will NEVER join another church. Well, they try to make sure that no one ever joins another church, but thankfully, God is very merciful and and many of us former JWs are now Evangelical Christians.
I have hope for my brother and will continue to pray for him and for his lovely wife. I wonder what he would think if he knew that every time I watch the San Francisco 49ers I think about him. I think about him too when I'm baking cookies and wish he was here to taste one of them. I am thankful I have a brother and for what he taught me when we were children. May God bless him, open his eyes, and bring him to Christ.