“I Gave Her Six Weeks, She Gave Me the Truth”
I GREW up on a small farm in Pleasant View, Tennessee. My dad was a sharecropper. Our house was small and by most standards we would be considered dirt poor. But all my friends at school thought I was rich because I had all the farm animals to play with. I was very content as a child. I was raised a Methodist. They were very liberal and so was I. Everyone was going to heaven.
My earliest recollection of Jehovah’s Witnesses was one Sunday morning when we were snowed in and couldn’t go to church. One of the Witnesses came to our door. My mother was busy, so he was turned over to me. He couldn’t have been thrilled about this—I was only seven years old. Three years later my aunt became a Witness, and after that my mother also became one.
By this time I was a senior in high school and involved in many activities with the MYF—Methodist Youth Fellowship. I was going places. And now my mother wanted me to go to Witness meetings three times a week! Well, the compromise was that I would go to the Methodist church on Sundays but to Witness meetings on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. I had nothing against the Witnesses, but I started hating them anyway. I had this wonderful career ahead of me, and now I had to spend my time going to Witness meetings! Finally I told my mother: “This won’t work. I’m leaving. I’m going to college.”
I went to college, but I also went to live with my aunt, Eurlene, who was one of Jehovah’s Witnesses in California. At this time her husband was also becoming a Witness. To my mind it wasn’t exactly the ideal setup. However, they let me do as I wished. I went to college and everything was fine. I was still a good Methodist. I didn’t drink. I didn’t smoke. I didn’t curse. I’d go to my meetings and everything was great. I also started taking psychology classes in college. Those “nice” psychology lessons taught by atheists! In one summer they destroyed every bit of faith I had in religion—I didn’t have much anyway that was founded on knowledge.
From there on I was what my parents considered ultrawild. I really wasn’t ultrawild yet, but I was on my way. My mother came out to California. There was a big conference about my course in life. I was apprehensive of the outcome, but as I look back on it I can see how wisely they handled headstrong me. They helped me get set up in an apartment but kept contact with me. I cut them off completely, but they never cut me off. They didn’t condone what I did, but they never cut me off. It made it easy for me to come back later.
Anyway, I got set up on my own and was doing really well, I thought. I got into college demonstrations, which scared the life out of my mother. I got involved with factions of the SDS—Students for Democratic Society. Very radical, very militaristic and revolutionary. I was going to change the world, solve its problems. Later on I got into some of the riots—not the major ones that hit national headlines but some shouting and rock throwing. Two or three police might be injured and several of the demonstrators beaten, but they were not the mass mania that characterized the demonstrations of the early 1960’s.
I got caught up in the fever of it all, but soon things started happening that didn’t fit the ideals. One of the groups I was involved with started telling me about arms stored in a basement—machine guns, hand grenades. This was the group I was marching with for peace, and they were talking about doing what we were preaching against, saying: “Let’s go bomb the campus! Let’s overthrow the system!” Nothing constructive, only tearing down. This was madness. This was revolution without a cause.
My parents had always taught me respect for life. We had guns. We shot copperhead snakes that might bite one of the children. We shot weasels in the hen house. We shot the hogs because it was the most merciful way to slaughter them. As far as shooting birds or other animals, it had to be for food or protection. So on the farm it was always with respect for life that I grew up.
I loved peace. I thought I was marching for peace. I really did. Those talks at the school in the evenings, just the noblest of thoughts in those fine speeches. And then I heard about guns and grenades! I got out fast. And when I got out I got away out. I left all groups, all association, severed all connections. The man I was dating wanted me to marry him. It wasn’t what I really wanted, but I did marry him. Then within three months he joined the army! This man who’s been in the peace movement with me joins the army!
I returned to Tennessee, attended Austin Peay State University, and started dating men again. This was in 1971. At this time my soldier husband wanted me to come and live on the base with him. I asked him: “What happens at the movies when they play the anthem and have the flag salute and I don’t stand up? What are all your GI buddies going to do to me? What happens when they challenge me and I tell them all my respect for governments has long gone?” I was disgusted over Vietnam. I had friends that came back from Vietnam with plates in their heads—I couldn’t cope with it.
In fact, it repelled me so much that when my brother wanted me to buy bullets for his rifle, I refused. All he shot were the starlings that ate our crops. Or rabbits, and the family ate them. But by that time I was so disgusted with any kind of gun that I wouldn’t even buy bullets for him.
Well, the upshot of it with my husband was that he got a divorce. He had given me a beautiful wedding ring, a two-carat diamond. I wouldn’t keep it. I’d only had it three months and later he might like to pass it on to his children, or give it back to his mother.
I moved to Nashville and started dating the vice-president of a corporation. Maybe big business had the answers. I’d tried the peace movement and it was too military, so I thought: “I’ll get into business. That will cure all the problems.” About then a detective came around and I found out that this vice-president I was dating was trafficking in stolen goods and cocaine. One of the other vice-presidents from the company cornered me and wanted all the inside information on this man. It was a power struggle within the company and I wanted no part of it. Business lost its appeal very quickly.
About this time my mother, my sweet mother, cornered Ray and Suzi Lloyd at a meeting of Jehovah’s Witnesses. I had told her in sarcastic jest that if she ever found an educated Witness I’d study the Bible with him. So Ray gave a talk. Mom was impressed and said to him: “I want you to study with my daughter. She lives in Nashville.” Ray lived in Nashville, too, but on the far side of the city from me. My mother knew that Ray and Suzi would come all the way across Nashville to study with me in my trailer. They did. They came all the way. And I was about as interested as . . . well, I was so uninterested it was pathetic! I was saying to myself: “Oh, no, have I ever got myself into trouble now!” Well, I got some books from Suzi—their colors matched my living-room decor—and that was it for the time being.
I moved my trailer to Pleasant View and started dating the detective that had investigated the corrupt vice-president. I was amoral, but this detective turned out to be the biggest criminal of them all. The things I got into with him were so illegal, so vulgar—worse than anything I had done before. And this was a detective with the Nashville police force, a 20-year veteran. I had been into drugs—the doctors had said at that time that marijuana was harmless and so was LSD and speed—but I look back at some of the things I did under drugs and I shudder.
I’d had some of the weirdest friends imaginable, but this detective I was dating was the worst. I became so disgusted with all of them and with myself that I quit everything. I was also very sick at the time, and the doctor told me to stay in for six weeks. I had really hit rock bottom.
And then I remembered Suzi Lloyd. For the life of me I don’t know why, but I had a compelling urge to call her and ask for a Bible study. I did call, but her number had been changed. I hung up, asking myself: “Why am I calling her?” I was perplexed. No reason to call her. But I did. I picked up the phone again, dialed her new number and blurted out: “Suzi, I’ve got six weeks. Will you teach me the Bible?”
She did. Doctrine first, but soon she branched out, showing the Bible’s accuracy, its logicalness, that it is inspired. She showed me that the Bible is true, and if it is true then the God it talks about must exist. This was the big thing that was accomplished by studying with Suzi—the return of a belief in God. We studied three times a week, four hours each study, and after that had coffee and two more hours of discussing scriptures. After the second week Suzi said I should go to the meetings at the Kingdom Hall, and I did that too.
We finished the book we were studying along with the Bible. The agreed-upon six weeks were over. But now I wanted the study to continue. By this time we were studying at Suzi’s house, not in my trailer.
So I said to Suzi: “Well, we’re finished now, right, Suzi?”
“So what do we do now?” I knew the Witnesses usually studied another book. My mother had told me that. I was waiting for her to suggest this, and I would graciously accept. Instead she said:
“Well, the six weeks are over. It’s really up to you.”
I was so deflated! I could only mumble weakly, “I guess we stop.”
Driving home I never felt so miserable in all my life. The Witnesses are supposed to beg, they’re supposed to want me to study! I’m doing them a favor! That’s how I had always looked at it, and now it didn’t happen that way. I was so sad and dejected that I drove down the road bawling my head off. Suddenly I thought: ‘This is stupid. I want the study. I’m going to call Suzi.’ I stopped the car, found a phone booth—it isn’t easy at midnight—and called Suzi. Ray answered, got Suzi out of the bathtub, and between the sobs I told her that I had to have the study.
Two months later I got baptized. I’d sold my trailer, paid off my debts, and attended an international convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses in California. That’s where I was baptized. The day after baptism I started preaching full time from house to house. Although I had a secular job, the first month I put in 150 hours preaching. The next month, 140 hours. I was advised to slow down, so the third month I put in only 100 hours. Soon I quit my job and concentrated on telling others about Jehovah’s Kingdom.
Returning to Tennessee, I met Gary Hobson, also one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. A few months later, in 1976, we got married. We entered the full-time preaching work together, and the next seven years have been the happiest of my life. We’re still serving full time announcing Jehovah’s Kingdom.—Contributed by Cathy Hobson.
[Blurb on page 24]
“Those ‘nice’ psychology lessons . . . In one summer they destroyed every bit of faith I had in religion”
[Blurb on page 26]
“I thought I was marching for peace . . . And then I heard about guns and grenades!”
[Blurb on page 26]
“This man who’s been in the peace movement with me joins the army!”
[Blurb on page 27]
“I was advised to slow down, so the third month I put in only 100 hours”