My Life After Jail
I went back to my old job, but someone had been hired to take my position. Next, I went to an unemployment agency. They found me some temporary, but totally unbearable work. I was under pressure to save up some money for my upcoming wedding, which was only four months away. Up to this point I had adjusted fairly well to my new state of freedom. The only remnant from jail was my duty to report once-a-month for three years to the police station in my area. While I was in jail, my father-in-law opened a business in Salamina (a suburb of Athens), and we agreed that I would work there. However, I couldn’t move there until after the wedding, and this was difficult because I couldn’t leave my mother and my grandmother behind. They were not in the position to stay by themselves. We searched and found two homes in the same neighborhood, so we could be near each other. This was not easy, but by the grace of God we found the houses a few weeks before the wedding.
Finally, our special day arrived, and I found myself dressed in the groom’s attire in one of the Witnesses’ Halls in Pereus. The pastor who married us was a Presbyter with special appointment who had been authorized by the state to conduct marriage ceremonies. He was also married, but I detected some sadness in his eyes when he told us that his wife was one of the “144,000” and that she would go to heaven. Therefore, she would not be next to him in the Kingdom of God because he belonged to the “great crowd,” and he would remain on earth. Fortunately, my wife and I were both of the “great crowd” and of the “earthly hope” and we would live together eternally. The marriage concluded with a sermon about our duties and our responsibilities as a married couple. The pastor also took this opportunity to say a number of things in hopes of proselytizing some of the dozens of Orthodox Christians who had been invited. Finally, we departed for the customary celebration.
At the end of our honeymoon, I started my new job, and our family problems started along with it. My wife was reserved by nature, while my mother was an extrovert. My mother felt uncomfortable with my wife’s shyness, and my wife was annoyed by my mother’s outwardness. My mother expected more warmth from her daughter-in-law, and my wife considered my mother an unacceptable intrusion in her life. Consequently, their relationship was becoming progressively worse with very few intervals of peace and quiet in the first three years of our marriage, a painful time for all of us. I kept bringing up the example of Naomi and Ruth, but to no avail. They were both determined not to give an inch! My only consolation at the time was in finding out that this state of affairs was the rule and not the exception, according to the other couples were knew.
When I was about to transfer my church membership to Salamina, I kindly asked my new Presbyters not to publicize that I was “marked.” They explained that much time had elapsed from that incident, and I was no longer in that state. So when I came to my new congregation, I did not have any restrictions. I quickly assumed various tasks such as assisting in the congregation hall, and shortly thereafter, I became a “service deacon” (something like the Christian deacons). This meant that I needed to teach from the pulpit from time-to-time or give public homilies wherever they sent me to preach. I was provided with homily outline formats from the Watchtower Organization, but I needed to expand and build up these outlined homilies to an approximate length of forty-five minutes. These homilies were also under the absolute censorship of the Watchtower Organization, much like the fixed answers of its magazines. I also led one of the book studies, I served as the treasurer of the congregation, and I was responsible for providing and making copies of profit and loss statements. I was also responsible for the distribution of periodicals to the congregation, and I often participated in the “Theocratic” meeting for the purpose of interpreting verses of the Holy Scriptures or analyzing sections from a book entitled All Scripture is God-inspired and Beneficial. Sometimes I participated in convention programs and often attended the Organization’s “deacon” seminars.
I was progressively becoming adept at whatever service the Organization asked of me, and I often took part in organizing the behind-the-scenes-work for the conventions. My presence was never lacking when the Society asked for volunteer work, and whenever time and my life circumstances permitted. The hours and the time spent in Bible studies I entered in my weekly report far exceeded the other members of my congregation, with the exception being the Pioneers, members who had as their goal to preach for two, five, and eight hours per day for one or more months. At times, I also hit the level of the Pioneers since I needed to present a good example as Deacon. I was always very eager to knock on doors and to work the streets (advertising magazines on busy street corners). However, a special event that took place while I was working the streets proved to be a turning point in my journey toward Orthodoxy.