I was the eldest in a family of seven, and until I was about ten years old I was very quiet and shy. As a result I used to be bullied – until my mum taught me how to fight, then I was never bullied again.
By age eleven I was smoking, had become a skinhead, became involved with shoplifting etc. This didn’t last long though, I soon grew out of my rebellious streak. I always looked and behaved older than I was, and by age thirteen I was frequently out clubbing – often with my mum.
At age sixteen, I met a man eight years older than me, became pregnant, married him, and had my first child by age seventeen. Now I had somebody to think about other than myself.
Some years previously my mum had met with an old school friend who had become a Jehovah’s Witness. My mum and dad agreed to a bible study with them, and that’s how my family was introduced to the Witnesses. Although my parents didn’t become Witnesses then, some of the things we heard stuck with me. In particular their beliefs that we were living in the “last days”, and that we could gain “eternal life” if we became Witnesses.
I wanted what was best for my little baby, and decided to become a Jehovah’s Witness. I told my mum of my decision, and she said, “We’ll do it together” – we were baptised into the Witnesses in 1975.
21 Years a Jehovah’s Witness
For twenty-one years I was a very hard working, committed Jehovah’s Witness, only rarely did I ever miss one of the five meetings each week. I was involved in door-to-door preaching and even pioneering. I was considered such a fine example of a Jehovah’s Witness that I was often asked to testify at big conventions, I always took my eight children even though my husband never became a Witness. I was always in control, and was involved with so much that I was dubbed ‘Superwoman’.
Then over a period of some years my life went to pieces, and a period of brokenness began. My marriage was falling apart, my finances were a mess, and the way my husband acted toward our children was affecting them – two were in trouble with the Police and one tried to commit suicide. My husband regularly used to smash up the house – it was a nightmare. My husband and I eventually separated, and divorce soon followed, but things still became worse.
Jigsaw – this is how I felt my life had become, a 1000-piece jigsaw all broken and mixed up, and the lid with the picture on it was missing…
Leaving the Jehovah’s Witnesses
At this stage in my life if anyone asked, “how are you?” I’d simply cry and cry. I decided that until I pulled myself together I would stay away from the Jehovah’s Witness meetings – for the first time ever. Suddenly all those friends and family who’d been there for me when I was Superwoman were nowhere to be found, just when I needed them most.
I couldn’t make sense of the jigsaw, and gradually drifted away from the meetings and from God.
More brokenness at St. Lucia
Around this time, my eldest daughter was getting married in St. Lucia. I went to St. Lucia for a week and it was like paradise, I loved the people and the beauty of the Island. Whilst there I met a guy (I was divorced by then), and kept in touch. I returned to St. Lucia (using “plastic money”) because by then I was seriously considering taking my children to live there and marrying the guy I had met.
I checked everything out – I looked at schools, spoke to English people that lived there, I weighed up all the pros and cons, and decided this was definitely what I wanted to do!
There were still problems though. I had been teaching my children at home for some years, they needed to get back into the school system so that they could go to school in St. Lucia. I would have to work – St. Lucia is a third world country and there is no Social Security. I took out a huge Bank loan so that I could send the money to my fiancé to start up a business for us, but I’d bitten off more than I could chew. The loan was financially crippling, but I consoled myself with the thought that I would struggle now to benefit later. Six months later, however, I discovered my fiancé had squandered all of the money, and I had a £1000 phone bill.
I realised I didn’t want God to be absent from my life and started reading my Bible and praying for the Holy Spirit to guide me. As I was reading, a passage of scripture jumped out of the page at me [Matthew 8:11] – it was contrary to all my Jehovah’s Witness beliefs, so I decided to investigate more. Seeds of doubt had been planted.
While in St. Lucia I had met a born again Christian from London and we had kept in touch. He sent me gospel tapes and books to read, I began an intense bible study, but with an open mind and an open heart.
Every night I studied whilst in bed, a mountain of books around me, and every kind of translation and Bible aid. As well as an array of Jehovah’s Witness study books, I also had a copy of the Septuagint [the Greek manuscript of the Old Testament], and Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Greek Words – since I don’t read Greek!
Every night I would study for hours and hours. Occasionally I would pray, “God am I doing the right thing?” Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that only their own literature is reliable; born-again, tongue-speaking healers were of the devil. 21 years in the Witnesses meant that sometimes I would be frightened by what I was doing. Sometimes I would fall asleep surrounded by piles of books, suddenly to be awakened by a loud noise; I’d think, “Oh no it’s the devil, I’ve gone too far this time”, only to find books fallen onto the floor. This continued for two months.
Brother Jimmy comes home
My brother Jimmy had been living abroad, but returned to live in England. He was a born again Christian and when he found out what I had been up to, encouraged me to continue what I was doing, and to pray for guidance and understanding from the Holy Spirit. Naturally, he also rallied all of his Christian friends to pray for my salvation!
Going to Church
A while later Jimmy invited me to a church to hear some gospel singers. I loved the singing, I loved the people, and the atmosphere was amazing. I kept going to the church.
Gradually I came to realise that for 21 years I’d been looking to an organisation instead of looking to God. On March 7 1997, I gave my heart and life to Jesus.
This was not a decision that was taken lightly. I knew that if I followed another faith [to Jehovah’s Witnesses] then I would be disfellowshipped. This means that no Jehovah’s Witness could talk to me again unless I returned to the organisation, this includes all the friends I had for the last 21 years and also my mother, father, brother, sister and sister-in-law. I knew, however, that my relationship with God must come first.
Fortunately one-by-one my family became disillusioned with Jehovah’s Witnesses and backslid; they now speak to me again.
I couldn’t understand why all these things happened to me. Why did God allow it? Why didn’t God stop it?
Now God is putting all the pieces of the jigsaw together. He can, because He has the lid with the picture on it. I believe that God allowed these things to happen to bring me to my knees, to stop me from trusting in a man-made organisation, and to start trusting in Him, depending upon Him.
Sometimes we don’t understand what’s going on, but God sees the bigger picture. We only see a few pieces of the jigsaw and yet expect to be able to describe the whole scene. God has the whole picture of our life, he knows where each piece fits.
God is teaching me to stop being in control – Superwoman – and to position the pieces where I see fit. He is showing me I have to trust him completely – to let go, and let God.
The following poem describes me:
As children bring their broken toys with tears for me to mend,
I brought my broken dreams to God because He was my friend.
But then instead of leaving Him in peace to work alone,
I hung around and tried to help with ways that were my own.
At last I snatched them back and cried “how could you be so slow,”
“My child,” he cried, “what could I do? You never did let go.”
But Praise God! I have now.
I was baptised as a Christian on 22 June 1997 when I wrote the following, which I’d like to share
Thank you Lord
Thank you Lord for saving me,
from the bottom of the pit:
for cleansing me from all that dirt
bit, by bit, by bit.
I felt so broken as I lay amongst the mire,
You heard my cry and lifted me higher and higher.
I wept so hard, it hurt so much,
all I needed was your touch.
So you gave me a firm footing,
and set my feet on rock,
You said “come My child,
I am the Shepherd, I’ll take you to my flock.”
And You healed me of my sufferings,
my hurts, my wounds, my pain,
I was as dead, but now am free,
at last am born again.
You sent Your Holy Spirit,
and he led me on The Way,
He taught me all I needed,
that’s why I’m baptised today.
My greatest desire now,
is for me to do your will,
please tell me what You want, my Lord,
so Your Word I can fulfil.
You see, I want to show my thanks,
for your undeserving love,
how my soul does long for you,
Oh Might God above.
You surround me with compassion,
mercy and affection,
even though I stand here,
in my sin and imperfection.
But it doesn’t matter who we are,
or what we’ve said or done,
if we repent, believe, and be baptised,
then LIFE has just begun.