There have been a couple of incidents that have made me concerned about my relationship with my Jehovah’s Witness friends. First, some humorous but concerning experiences at the local Kingdom Hall, in which I was brought into the boardroom for questioning about my motives for “sharing my opinions” with congregation members. (See my previous post about that.) In addition to that, I received a phone call from my friend Mark, who early in our conversation said that his elders thought that I was “trying to influence” my JW friends. I was concerned whether the jig was up–perhaps my cover was blown, and they were all going to cease interacting with me. My response to mark was simply to ask, “They said that?” I was trying to prompt him to elaborate further, wondering what exactly had been said, and whether Mark had been advised to cut things off with me. I was very pleased that Mark continued talking with me, hardly addressing the situation at all.
I had planned to go to the local Kingdom Hall, as I normally do about once a month, but was apprehensive about what kind of reception I would receive. My Wifey prayed for me, specifically that God would give me favor with the JW’s. With that, I left to head to the Kingdom Hall.
God answered my Wifey’s prayer. Everyone at the KH greeted me enthusiastically, asking how I was, saying that they were glad to see me, and other expressions of friendliness. There was no sign of shunning or defensiveness. In return for their kindness, I refrained from “sharing my opinions” with the members, instead only engaging in friendly conversations about life in general. Okay, I did “share my opinions” a bit, but so subtly that it could hardly have been detected. And the elders were listening (that is, very creatively eavesdropping) on my conversations with people. I was definitely under scrutiny. I encouraged a young man to continue to pursue his singing classes and developing that talent. And I encouraged another young man to continue his efforts at writing (which he currently does on the staff of his high school newspaper). These were very, VERY subtle statements of encouragement of career paths not normally encouraged by the Watchtower. College education is frowned upon, and so any skill requiring further education beyond high school is suspect. Yes, their parents have encouraged their efforts in the writing and singing arts, so they too are pushing the boundaries as well, which was surprising to me. My enthusiastic encouragement included statements about those abilities being given as gifts by Jehovah. This may seem like small potatoes to us, but with JW’s, sometimes our small potatoes are Big Deals to them. I’m sure the message was not lost on the young people and their parents. What the elders thought, I don’t know, but they raised no objection, and remained friendly towards me.
Bonus: My friend Aaron invited me to his upcoming wedding! Sweet. I’m honored that he considered me enough of a friend to invite me and include me in on that part of his personal life. And I can’t wait to attend and have more opportunities to talk with JW’s.