From a young child until I left the organization I practiced door to door preaching. For those that are unfamiliar with this term it’s knocking on doors in the areas you live and giving a brief presentation to a member of public on their doorstep.
The reason I was told, is that witnesses follow examples of early Christians and find it the most effective way to talk to people.
Me and my siblings were taken on the door to door work, rain, sun or snow, usually dressed in hand me down suits and clothing from more affluent members of the kingdom hall that felt sorry for us.
One bleak rainy Saturday morning I had the most profound experience. A turning point you might say. I owe it all to a song by a band called The Killers-smile like you mean it.
I was around 18 (all of my siblings had left or been disfellowshipped the organization by this point), knocking on doors in my home town, with my father and several fellow witnesses. I was feeling particularly down that day, doubt was beginning to creep in. Is this right for me, when it’s causing me so much distress and anxiety?
I was told by several other witnesses that morning “cheer up, you always look so miserable, it doesn’t look good on the door work, we are supposed to be a happy people!” a common theme with JW’S, you are in constant fear you will bring a bad name upon them. I forced a smile even though I feel humiliated, scared and trapped. A mixture of feelings all bad stirred inside me, I honestly felt like bursting out crying. I said to my father “can I have the keys to the car? I’m not feeling to well” he passed me the keys slightly embarrassed due to how it looked to the others.
I walked back to the car choking back the tears, unlocked the doors and sat in the passenger seat; the sense of relief was amazing. I turned on the radio and smile like you mean it came on. The lyrics expressed perfectly how I felt ….. it’s an act, just smile like you mean it ! This was a massive turning point for me, I realised I was an actor and I wasnt fooling anyone.
I found it impossible to continue selling a religion that destroyed my self-confidence and self-worth and more importantly my family. I ask you this, how can you convince people to join up, when you yourself have doubts about the organization and its harmful effects?
I went home that morning filled with shame, a broken person. This was the beginning of rock bottom, but from this point it just got gradually worse.