Continuing from last week’s post, “Here Come Da Judge.”
So, basically, your entire world has just crashed into shards at your feet. None of your friends at the kingdom hall can talk to you, not even your family members. You are considered to be a wicked person, a danger to the faithful. How you wish you could run into your mom’s arms and be comforted, but your mom is a woman of strong faith in the organization. She believes that by isolating you she is performing a great act of love. She hopes that you will feel enough pain that you will do whatever is necessary to be reinstated. Well, it’s working.
Sitting at home that weekend you realize you have a long haul ahead of you. Even the most repentant sinners can expect at least six months of cold shoulders before they can apply for reinstatement. You decide you’ll just pull up your big girl panties and deal with it.
Still, it niggles in the back of your mind. How can three men sit in judgment on you and then separate you from your own mother and your best friend? You’re not a wicked person, just an idiot who had too much to drink one night and made a mistake.
In order to be reinstated, you will have to acknowledge the gravity of your sin, display works befitting repentance (read: grovel), show up at all of the meetings (however, be the last one there and the first to leave) and sit quietly in the back of the hall. And the elders will assign a “spiritually mature” sister to study with one or two of the Watchtower Society’s publications. Ultimately, you will have to meet with the same three elders who kicked you out in the first place to ask for forgiveness.
This will be difficult. Brother Rigid has always had it out for you. He doesn’t like any display of individuality, like the time you tried a temporary hair color. It was just auburn, for pity’s sake – well, maybe a tad redder than the usual auburn. He threatened your father with the loss of his congregation privileges if he allowed it to continue. Even Dad thought that Brother Rigid was being overbearing. You spent a long afternoon washing your hair over and over to remove the color and spent the next year boring angry holes into the back of his head during the meetings. Every time that man looked at you he frowned. Your clothes were immodest. Your pocketbook was too trendy. You caught hell for buying a tiny two-door car that is not suitable for field service. Groveling to that [expletive deleted] is going to be painful.
Every meeting is painful because you see your family sitting there but you can’t approach them. So, you plug away for six months, keeping your head down at the meetings, wearing only the most modest clothes, playing the part of a repentant sinner, and enduring weekly study sessions with Sister Smug. She insists you come to her house, so there’s that weekly encounter with Brother Smug and the Smugettes, who whisper and titter before scuttling away like you’re the Devil himself.
At the meetings, anyone who has to get up to use the rest room walks past you. All of them avert their eyes, but there are a few spiteful sisters who make a show of it, snapping their heads around. Then there are the inevitable encounters at the grocery store. Sister Wasp and her two young children round the end of an aisle, nearly crashing into you. The children cower behind their mother’s coat and she looks annoyed by the encounter. How dare you bring your sinful self to the same store she patronizes? Oh, and the excruciating gas station encounter with Brother Bombast! You were filling up your tank, and he pulled up to the pump directly across from you. The man’s face turned bright red. You stopped short of a full tank and drove off as quickly as you could.
Finally, after six months of torture you approach the elders and request reinstatement. A date is set for them to meet with you and discuss it. At the meeting they interrogate you about your lifestyle. Have you been frequenting bars? Do you have a boyfriend? A sexual partner? You answer every prying little question in a respectful voice with a little weeping thrown in for effect. They tell you that Sister Smug reports that you have done well on your study. They see that you haven’t missed a meeting, even coming when you had the flu. They dismiss you so that they can talk it over.
Again you wait alone in the cavernous kingdom hall while three men decide your fate. You can’t take another six months of this. Please, please, let them vote for reinstatement.
Finally, they call you back in. They tell you they have decided that you qualify for reinstatement, and it will be announced at the Thursday meeting.
Thursday evening rolls around. As usual, you take your seat of shame in the back. About halfway through the meeting Brother Elder #2 gets up on the platform and reads a brief announcement saying that you have been reinstated. Ten heads turn to look at you, a couple of them smiling.
The meeting ends and you’re swamped. First, you mother weeps all over you, then your little sister. Dad gives you a hug and his loving smile. Then it’s your BFF’s turn. After that, Sister Smug squeezes out a few decorous tears and hugs you. Then, Sister Wasp gushes, “Oh, how I’ve missed you!”
Eh? You decide you’ll wait until you get home to roll your eyes.
Meanwhile, there are handshakes and hugs and a few more tears. You’re back.