Things I Regret
Once a person leaves the WCG, they usually spend time reflecting over the past and grieving the losses. I know it helped me write down things that I experienced during our 11+ years in the Worldwide Church of God. Here's a list I had complied:
- I regret that I was in my early 20's when I first entered the WCG. I was at that beginning of my career, but because we were "fleeing to the Place of Safety," I did not pursue nor finish my schooling.
- I regret that I had my orthodontics removed because it was considered vanity. Besides, we were going to the Place of Safety, so why waste the time and money?
- I regret all the time I spent cooking on Fridays (and Thursdays when sundown came earlier because of Daylight Savings Time and I had to work), so I could spend all day Saturday eating it and making sure I wasn't "working" on the Sabbath.
- I regret all the times that my relatives went out of their way to accommodate my beliefs, yet I did not want to "compromise" mine. They would send us Christmas presents wrapped in plain or non-Christmas type paper. I would send them nothing--not even a card.
- I regret all the times that my relatives sent me birthday gifts and cards, and I sent them nothing. I did not want to encourage their behavior. I believed Armstrong when he said that we were not to celebrate our birthdays because "only sinners did." He failed to quote any substantial Scriptures that would back up this doctrine, but I was so sure that he was "God's End Time Apostle" that I never questioned it.
- I regret all the Saturday barbeques and picnics with my co-workers that I had to turn down. Many of them were Christians and were very nice people, but I did not want to break the Sabbath. I had one boss who held an event on Sunday--just so I could attend--he thought that much of me to go out of his way to do that. But it was still a shame that a person should feel like they are sinning for "eating with publicans and sinners."
- I regret all the meetings I skipped because I knew they would have birthday cake there. I told them that I was too busy with a deadline to make it. Someone always brought me a piece of cake. I would thank them and leave it sit at my desk until it got stale. I was afraid to eat it. I was sure Satan was tempting me to compromise.
- I regret that my kids never got to celebrate Christmas with their grandparents. They died before we left the WCG.
- I regret all the uncomfortable situations that we put our relatives through during Christmas. We were told that we could go for the Christmas dinner, but we couldn't stay and open gifts with them. So right after dinner, we would leave. It was awkward for us, and hurtful to them. They couldn't enjoy Christmas either, knowing we weren't there.
- I regret that all the money we sent in to Worldwide was never used to preach the Gospel or to help anyone. If that $65,000 had been given to a Crisis Pregnancy Center, how many abortions could have been prevented? If that money had been given to legitimate charities, how many lives would have been saved from starvation? The money that took us over 11 years to scrape together was nothing but chump change for Herbert Armstrong to throw around. (Read Jack Kessler's 1981 Letter to Worldwide Church of God Board of Directors for details.)
- I regret the "friends" I had lost when I left the WCG. These were people I had known for almost the whole time we were in the WCG, who have not spoken to us since we left. It was very hard to discover that there never was a true friendship there at all--that these friendships were contingent upon loyalty to a group.
- I regret that I put these "friends" in my will, and as legal guardians of my children, instead of my family members. I was so concerned about my children being raised in "God's True Church" that I never thought about the trauma that I was bringing into their lives by giving them over to people they didn't know well, instead of their blood relatives who cared for them. We also put in our Will for the WCG to get 10% of our estate! Thank God we didn't die and leave this awful mess for our relatives to deal with.
- I regret that I didn't listen to all those people who tried to warn me that I was in a "cult" when I first started attending Worldwide.
- I regret all that time I spent studying "church" literature, organizing and promoting fundraisers, and attending constant church activities, instead of investing that time building my relationship with my husband.
- I regret that I had turned my head the other way when I saw abuses. Harsh discipline toward children, spouse abuse, drunkenness, gossip, and more. I did nothing to stop it, or to help. I hang my head in shame.
- I regret that I spent all those years living a lie. Yes, I had lots of Bible knowledge, but I never had Jesus. I knew what Jesus was going to do when He returned, but I did not know Him personally. I only knew the rules of "The Church," and I got behind "The Work," and I automatically took potshots at those who "rebelled" and discredited anyone who wasn't loyal.
These are just a few things that I had to write. The good news is that I now know Jesus, and I know that the Holy Spirit lives in me, and He will guide me into all truth. God has been faithful. He has held my hand in some of my darkest moments and has brought me to this time of peace and happiness in my life. I now realize that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit loved me and desired to give me life everlasting.
Yes, I have had a lot of regrets, and I'm sure there's more than what I've listed, and I have come to see that men with the man-made rules will always keep people in darkness. I have spent time grieving over my losses, but what I have gained since leaving the WCG, far outlasts anything I have lost.
By Lindsey (former WCG member)
October 4, 2003
Note from ESN: It can be very helpful for exiters to make a list such as the above, and to also write about our time and feelings in the group. Although grieving will come, so can healing.
Poems/Free Verse & Comfort in Music (comfort for the broken hearted; no audio)