I Tried to Kill Myself, I Almost Killed My Son
I’M GLAD I failed on both counts. Success in my search for truth came just in time to save us both. This truth has changed my life, made over my mind, changed my personality, given me a new job, landed me in a new country and plunged me into the throes of learning a new language. Two new languages, as a matter of fact. But only one of them is difficult, the other is a delight.
Before my search began for something better, I descended into something worse. I guess I had to hit bottom before I saw the need to change directions.
I am Jewish, raised in a Jewish family, of parents who were not particularly religious. They did, however, require me to go to a synagogue school, attend Saturday school and be present at high holiday services. By the time I was 10 I noticed much hypocrisy in Judaism. One thing that puzzled me was having to buy a ticket to go to the high holiday services. Why should you have to pay to go to worship God? I also noticed that people who gave more money would get their names written in bigger letters on the synagogue wall. The Saturday school I attended was taught by a Jewish lawyer, supposedly the best teacher in the synagogue. It was just a philosophy class and presented the Bible as a good book written by wise men, but not a book inspired by God.
So when I was 14 and my parents sent me away to a private school, I no longer went to the synagogue and I shunned all religion. I remember when I later went home for a visit and my father wanted me to go to the synagogue, I told him that I was an atheist. I’d seen so much hypocrisy that I didn’t believe in anything. My homelife had never been very good. I felt unwanted. Nothing seemed to matter to me. Often I’d run away from the private school, and the police would find me and bring me back. My parents finally put me in reform school for over a year.
There I was thrown in contact with young women who had been into lots of trouble—some had had babies, others had stolen cars, many were into drugs, and some had even tried to kill their parents. I was 16 when I got out of there. I left California and went to New York and enrolled at Long Island University in Brooklyn. I majored in political science and economics. By this time I was interested in improving society and thought politics was the way to do it. Previous to this I had gone from door to door trying to get people to vote for Eugene McCarthy for president. But the more I studied and observed politics the more I realized its corruption. I changed majors and eventually quit college.
Thoroughly disillusioned, without hope in anything, I started hanging out in bars, drinking, taking drugs and even worked as a dancer in bars. I fell in love with a man named Jon, started living with him and eventually we got married. He turned out to be an alcoholic, would disappear for days at a time, and I fell into deep despair. My family life wasn’t working out, the political system was corrupt, pollution was ruining the earth, and it looked as if man was determined to blow himself up in a nuclear war. I tried to kill myself.
I really wanted something better. I quit drugs. I tried hard to improve my family life. I began to wonder, Was there a God? Did he exist? I looked into spiritism, bought a whole library on demonism. I was fortunate that I was never bothered by the demons. Jon said that there were prophecies in the Bible about the future. Nothing in my religious training ever taught me that. “Was it in the New Testament?” I asked him. He thought so. He was a Catholic but didn’t practice Catholicism or believe in it. From that time on it was in the back of my mind to find out what the Bible said.
Things now happened fast. I tried to kill myself several times—slashing my wrists, stabbing myself, cutting my throat—but they were only halfhearted attempts, a cry for help and done in front of my husband to get him to stop his drinking and barhopping. It didn’t work.
The big turnaround in my life began soon thereafter. One Sunday Jon and I went to see some friends of his, an older couple. They had studied with Jehovah’s Witnesses, had Witnesses in their family and understood the Bible as the Witnesses did. Strangely, I tried to convince them that Judaism was the best religion, even though I had rejected it. Then the man started telling what the Witnesses believe. In 15 minutes he went from Adam to Armageddon. I was overwhelmed! That’s it! That’s the truth!
I went with the woman the next evening to a Bible study. I began going to the meetings quite regularly. Jon encouraged me for a while, but as I learned more truths from the Bible I began to change. Romans 12:2 began to happen for me: “Quit being fashioned after this system of things, but be transformed by making your mind over, that you may prove to yourselves the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” No more marijuana, no more barhopping, no more excessive drinking, no more stealing.
That’s right, stealing. When we lived together in New York we would go out and steal cars and sell the parts. People would have a car they needed parts for, and we would locate one like it and steal it and sell them the parts. When I stopped all of this Jon started opposing my studying the Bible with the Witnesses. But he relented when two Witnesses came to the door and made a good impression on him. The only condition was, “You study with them but leave me out of it. Don’t witness to me. Don’t try to convert me.”
Soon after this, another crisis arose. I got pregnant. He wanted no child, and to save my marriage I agreed to an abortion. I had had two previous ones, so a third did not seem crucial. Then I saw a slide talk at the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses. It was on the miracle of birth. I was so impressed with the marvel of this little body developing in the womb. It was living, growing, moving! Arms and legs sprouting, fingers and toes forming and soon it was sucking its thumb! And this is what I’m going to kill? Up until then I had viewed the embryo as just a thing, a part of my body, nothing more. But in Jehovah’s eyes this was a living creature, and it now became such in my eyes also.
After the meeting I went out and cried. I couldn’t go through with the abortion. I went home and told my husband, “I’m having the child.” He stormed out and slammed the door. He didn’t speak to me for three days. But after the baby was born he loved it. It became his whole world. He thought it was the most wonderful thing. He was 37 and he had a son! He softened in other ways too. When I said I was going to get baptized he only said, “Okay, if that’s what you want to do.” This after three years of opposition and threats.
Three days later he didn’t come home that night. Things had been going so well, and now I assumed that his carousing was starting again. I couldn’t go through any more of this, not after learning the Bible truths and having my son Jonathan to raise. I would leave my husband. I packed my bags and waited for him to return so I could tell him. There was a knock on the door. It wasn’t my husband. It was the sheriff. “There’s been an accident. Your husband was killed.” He was coming home from a bar and had driven off the side of the mountain. Just the day before he became upset over something, lost his temper and said: “No one ever gave me a break! I ought to be dead!” Those words kept echoing through my mind after the sheriff told me Jon was dead.
I dedicated my life to Jehovah and three months later started in the full-time ministry with Jehovah’s Witnesses. We were living in Colorado when my husband was killed, now we moved around some to do witnessing where the need was greater. One summer Jonathan and I were able to work with some full-time ministers in Kentucky. We put in long hours—8, 10, 12 hours a day. Jonathan was about five years old by now, and one Witness thought it was too much for him. “Why don’t you let him have a day off?” she asked. She had three children, so I did let him stay with them. He was excited about it, but the next week he asked, “Is tomorrow my day off?” “Yes, it is.” Then he said, “No, I want to go out in the service with you. I don’t want a day off anymore.”
My father respects my religion because of the change it has made in me, but he wants nothing to do with it. He questions Jonathan about it, however. After my mother died my father showed her picture to him. “Who’s that?” he asked. “Your grandmother.” “Where is she?” “She died,” he explained, “and her soul went to heaven.” Jonathan said, “No, she is a soul, and she’s in the grave.” Impressed, he started questioning Jonathan. “Who is God?” “Jehovah.” “What does he do?” “He is up in heaven,” Jonathan said, “and makes everything work right.” My father won’t listen to me, but he will listen to Jonathan. And Jonathan is able to answer his questions because together we have gone through My Book of Bible Stories, published by the Watchtower Society.
My father believes in God. I remember that when I was about nine and already questioning God’s existence, my father took me outside and showed me a flower. “How did it get there?” he asked, and answered his own question: “Only God could do that.” He explained that plants even had the power to push up through concrete! My father tried so hard to get me to believe in God, but now it’s my little son who is trying to help him know Jehovah and His purpose so that he might live with us in a Paradise earth. Especially at times like this I look at Jonathan and think, ‘If I hadn’t gone to that slide talk at the Kingdom Hall five years ago, Jonathan would not be here now.’ It sometimes scares me to think how close I came to killing my son.
In 1979 I went to Israel. I wanted to see the Bible land. Jonathan didn’t go with me—he was too young to appreciate such a trip. I returned home wanting to go to Israel to share with people of my own nation the information that had benefited me. I saw the people of Israel, so dedicated, working so hard to make a homeland, so zealous yet so misdirected because of their alienation from Jehovah. I returned from that trip praying fervently for Jehovah to open a way for me to serve him in Israel.
For two years my prayers continued. ‘If I only had another full-time Witness to go with me, especially one who knew Hebrew and could help me learn the language!’ Then, in 1981, I returned to Israel, Jonathan with me this time. We were on tour with a group of Jehovah’s Witnesses. We were visiting in the Kingdom Hall of the Witnesses in Bethlehem. The tour bus, with the sign “Jehovah’s Witnesses” propped against the windshield, was parked on the street outside.
Two women saw the sign and came into the hall. They were Jehovah’s Witnesses and had just happened by, saw the sign and came in to visit us. One was a young Jewish woman who had settled in Israel from Holland. She was serving full time in Jehovah’s service in another city and just happened to be in Bethlehem on this particular day. She also wanted a roommate to live with her and accompany her in the witnessing work. “Yes,” she responded happily to my inquiry, “You and Jonathan can come and live with me!” The answer to my prayers! And that’s where Jonathan and I now live.
How happy I am that my suicide attempts failed, and that I didn’t snuff out my son’s life before his birth! How wonderful that my search for truth succeeded and it changed my life and caused me to ‘strip off my old personality and put on a new one’! (Colossians 3:9, 10) And while I am in the throes of learning a new and difficult language, Hebrew, I am also continuing to learn a delightful new language, the one foretold in Zephaniah 3:9: “Then I shall give to peoples the change to a pure language, in order for them all to call upon the name of Jehovah, in order to serve him shoulder to shoulder.”
Now my prayers have been answered. I am privileged to serve Jehovah full time, working shoulder to shoulder with the worldwide brotherhood of Jehovah’s Witnesses.—Contributed.
[Blurb on page 20]
Why should you have to pay to go to worship God?
[Blurb on page 21]
My family life wasn’t working out, the political system was corrupt, pollution was ruining the earth, and it looked as if man was determined to blow himself up in a nuclear war
[Blurb on page 22]
I tried to kill myself several times—slashing my wrists, stabbing myself, cutting my throat—but they were only halfhearted attempts, a cry for help
[Blurb on page 22]
No more marijuana, no more barhopping, no more excessive drinking, no more stealing
[Blurb on page 23]
It was living, growing, moving! Arms and legs sprouting, fingers and toes forming, and soon it was sucking its thumb! And this is what I’m going to kill?
[Blurb on page 23]
There was a knock on the door. It wasn’t my husband. It was the sheriff. “There’s been an accident. Your husband was killed”
[Blurb on page 24]
He showed me a flower. “Only God could do that”
[Blurb on page 24]
It sometimes scares me to think how close I came to killing my son