Something Worse Than AIDS
“The tests were positive. You have AIDS.” Those words of my doctor rang in my head as I hung up the phone one day last year. If only I had listened to God’s counsel and applied it, I could have avoided this!
I WAS raised as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the state of Washington, and my parents made sure that I knew what God’s requirements were. So it came as quite a surprise to a lot of people when I began to live so contrary to my childhood training.
Being liked by the other kids at school was an obsession with me. I tried all kinds of things to be accepted. Well, nothing worked, and by the time I was 15, I figured all was hopeless. I even tried, unsuccessfully, to commit suicide.
Thinking that it would make things better, I started using tobacco and marijuana. Well, it didn’t. After a while, I decided to leave Jehovah’s organization to look elsewhere for happiness. I announced to my school friends that I was no longer one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and they seemed to like that.
An Immoral, Inconstant Life
Eventually I found a job and also an apartment down on skid row, where all the winos and prostitutes hung out. They proceeded to tell me how easy it was to turn tricks for money. With their help, it wasn’t long before I had learned the ropes. I went from being a person who wanted to be liked by everyone and to be happy to being someone who was used by everyone and was very unhappy.
I wanted to change, to go back home and start over. I missed my parents and the life I had before. So I prayed to Jehovah for help. The hard part was to approach my parents and ask their forgiveness. Thankfully, they found it in their hearts to forgive me.
The Christian elders met with me, and I expressed my desire for reinstatement into the congregation. It wasn’t easy for them or for me. Not only was I having problems with the side effects of drug abuse but I had also contracted a serious venereal disease. My doctor told me that if I had waited just one more month, I would have died. What a mess I had got myself into!
In time, I was reinstated, and I even married a young woman from a neighboring congregation. Things were looking up. Yet, I still didn’t appreciate Jehovah’s love. I was trying to do things on my own instead of leaning on him for strength.
Less than two years later, I was divorced and disfellowshipped again for immorality. I had got involved with some worldly people. It was all quite innocent at first, but the Scriptural warning invariably proves accurate: “Bad associations spoil useful habits.”—1 Corinthians 15:33.
Sinking Deep Into Badness Again
By moving far away, I thought I wouldn’t be hurting my family as much. I had no problem finding a job and a place to stay in San Francisco, California. A drug dealer offered me a job distributing drugs. I was also among his elite group who got to try, for free, all the new ‘designer drugs’ that would come along. I now had a new kind of popularity. Everybody who knew me (and there were quite a few) knew that I had drugs. They would come up to me on the streets, in the bars, and even at work, wanting to purchase something from me.
Besides, I also wasted no time getting involved in immorality; it was a way for me to feel liked. And I was liked a lot. I learned to use other people through sex to get things I wanted. For years I lived this way.
I vividly recall on one occasion running an extremely high fever and becoming very weak. My doctor didn’t know what I had. In time it passed. I wouldn’t know what I had been exposed to until three years later.
During this time, I also began having trouble with the demons, once actually coming under attack. I felt that a demon was trying to enter my body. It was a struggle to get any words out of my mouth. I tried and tried until I finally was able to scream, “Help me Jehovah!” The demon immediately left.
Imagine how I felt! Here I was living a grossly immoral life and thinking only of myself, yet I had the nerve to call on Jehovah for help! I felt so ashamed. Why should I have assumed that Jehovah would help me? I went into a deep depression. I intentionally put my life in jeopardy, wanting someone to kill me.
A Desire to Change
One day, while partying with some friends, we got into a discussion about world affairs. When they asked me what I thought about the future, I found myself telling them of God’s purpose for the earth and its people. They were amazed. But one person became very upset with me and called me a hypocrite! He was absolutely right. I was living a double life. Yet, deep in my heart, I knew that Jehovah was our only salvation and that his organization was the only place to be.
About this time my life and the lives of those around me started to change. Many of my friends were coming down with AIDS. It was difficult to watch people who were once healthy slowly wither and die. I felt so helpless in comforting them. It was especially frustrating since I knew a better way of life. I knew then that I wanted to come back into Jehovah’s love. But how?
I started praying to Jehovah for help. It was so hard to do. I felt so ashamed and dirty. One day I received a phone call. It was from my aunt, whom I hadn’t seen for over nine years. She wanted to come and see me. Although she did not share my parents’ faith, I told her that I wanted to change my life and return to being one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. She could see my sincerity and wanted to help.
The Long Way Back
My aunt invited me to move in with her until I could get back on my feet. When she asked me if that would help, I just stood there and cried. I knew this was the way out that I needed, so I left my former associates. The next few months weren’t easy, but I was confident that Jehovah would help me get through them. I think Malachi 3:7 applies here: “‘Return to me, and I will return to you,’ Jehovah of armies has said.”
I met with the elders immediately after moving. I told them everything about myself and that I truly wanted to serve Jehovah. They knew and I knew that my reinstatement wasn’t going to come overnight by any means. I had a bad track record. Yet, I was determined this time. Every day and every night I prayed constantly to Jehovah for his help. I used to think I was such a weak person. On my own I guess I am. But when you have Jehovah’s help, it’s amazing how strong you become.
I had used drugs for so many years to cope with everyday life. Now I was having to do without them. I was afraid. Crowds scared me, and I would literally get sick if I was around them too long. At the same time, I was also trying to quit smoking after having been used to smoking almost four packs a day. The only thing that helped me get through all of this was prayer and continually reminding myself that my corrective actions were pleasing to Jehovah. I also found comfort and peace by attending the meetings regularly. Even though I couldn’t speak to anyone because of my being disfellowshipped, I still felt the love and warmth of my future spiritual brothers and sisters there.
Eventually, about a year after turning my life around, Jehovah saw fit to move his servants to reinstate me into his organization. He knew the exact time to welcome me back. He doesn’t let you be tested beyond what you can bear. Shortly afterward, I received that call from the doctor telling me that I had AIDS. Indeed, what Galatians 6:7 says is true: “Do not be misled: God is not one to be mocked. For whatever a man is sowing, this he will also reap.”
First I cried. All kinds of thoughts went through my mind. Visions of my past flew before my eyes. I had seen firsthand what this disease does to a person, as well as how others react to victims. How foolish I was to think that the world had something to offer! And what a waste of valuable time!
Contentment Despite Having AIDS
I know that there are youths in the same position I was, desiring to be accepted by worldly companions. Please, don’t be fooled into believing that what happened to me in the world won’t happen exactly the same to you if you ignore God’s counsel. Satan’s lures may be different, but the results are always the same.
However, I have also learned that no matter how bad you’ve become or whatever wrongs you have committed, Jehovah God will still help you and forgive you if you sincerely want to please him and if you go to him in earnest prayer.
Whatever happens to me doesn’t really bother me anymore. Sure, I get a little blue now and then, but I get over it soon enough. The only thing I worry about now is pleasing Jehovah. He is my real source of joy and comfort. I know that if I am doing everything that I can to please him, I will be well taken care of and loved by him.
I am so grateful that I am back among Jehovah’s people because even if I should die before he vindicates himself at Armageddon, I have the hope of the resurrection. Take it from me, to live without Jehovah’s love and favor is much worse than having AIDS.—Contributed.
[Blurb on page 13]
Being liked by the other kids was an obsession with me