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Sex, Booze, Masturbation, and Cold Showers

Sex_Booze

I love women.

And I love alcohol.

Put them together, even better.

Here’s the full story on how I quit both for two months.

Warning: This post is 3901 words of straight authenticsauce. Don’t read if you’re easily offended by the word “boner.” Do read if you’ve ever been scared to talk to a girl, drank too much, or masturbated. And put your feet up, cause it’s a looong read.

 

I. The Back Story

I grew up in the perfect family. I literally have zero regrets with the upbringing I had. My parents were always around, they spent countless hours with me every day, and I never once felt unsafe or unloved.

Part of that upbringing was being raised as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Which meant I spent my formative years going to church three days a week and knocking on doors on Saturday mornings in the “kingdom ministry” work.

The benefits of being raised in the religion were many. My parents stayed together throughout their marriage and raised two young men based off of biblical principles. I had friends of all ages, races and socioeconomic backgrounds growing up. And I learned how to be effective with the spoken word, giving my first public speaking engagement at the age of five and honing my sales and rapport building skills on people’s doorsteps every weekend.

The only problem though with my upbringing was the strict moral code set before us. As a five year old it was easy, but as a teenager it was impossible. Anything and everything that my friends at school were doing were off limits. This obviously made them even more enticing.

I have a theory about raising children. The more you tell them not to do something, the more they are going to want to do that thing. My friends with the strictest parents were the ones who ended up throwing their lives away to drugs and partying the minute they had some freedom. The friends with the “cool parents” are surprisingly the ones who are happily married with children.

Try this experiment if you’re not convinced. Buy your child a cookie, place it on top of the refrigerator, and tell them that they can’t have it. Walk away for a couple minutes and there’s a good chance you’ll come back to see them standing on their tip-toes on top of one of the dining room chairs.

Needless to say, there were a lot of things that I wanted to do that I couldn’t. This manifested into sneaking beers and girlfriends into my room as a teenager. This later turned into lying to my parents, which turned into lying to everybody. Later on it turned into cheating on girlfriends and binge drinking. Recently it’s turned into dating like it’s my full-time job and continuing to drink even when alcohol doesn’t serve me any more.

At the end of November I had a number of life circumstances that make me decide to take away two of my favorite things: women and alcohol. I’ve done numerous month long challenges in the past, but I felt this one needed to be two months. So I set up some ground rules and jumped into another “impossible” challenge.

The “These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things” Challenge
1. No women (no sex, no dating, no sleepovers, no talking unless it’s for business purposes, and no masturbation)
2. No alcohol
3. A 60 second cold shower every morning

 

II. Sex

I love women. I was raised by, am close friends with many, and have been mentored by amazing women. Today I have incredibly rich relationships with dozens of women. Growing up though, this wasn’t the case.

In fourth grade, I started to gain weight rapidly. This was mostly in part to my parents getting me a Nintendo Entertainment System in the summer before fourth grade. I gained over 20 pounds that summer and started living a sedentary life. From fourth to eighth grade I was one of the fattest kids in school and suffered from low self esteem and extreme shyness.

In my freshman year of high school I discovered weight lifting and turned most of that fat into muscle. Though I had the body of a linebacker, my social awkwardness remained and my friends made fun of me for my inability to talk to girls.

Girls would ask me out to prom and I’d make some ridiculous excuse or just pretend that I didn’t hear her. Girls would flirt with me and I’d become so shy that I couldn’t even look them in the eyes.

I was so scared of girls, that every first sexual experience was practically forced on me. My first kiss in high school in senior year was so comedic, it should go down in the Awkward Sexual Experiences Hall Of Fame. I finally had a girlfriend when I was 18, but women were still something like an alien race to me. And they scared, confused, and frustrated the shit out of me.

Then somewhere in my early twenties after half a decade of (mostly drunken) sexual encounters, I stumbled onto pickup. (Note: After you read this and share it with all your friends, read Karol’s equally as awesome essay on pickup).

The first book I bought was Eben Pagan’s Double Your Dating. Then I read The Game. Then I spent another several thousand hours diving deep into understanding, communicating with and attracting women.

I read all the books on pickup. I read all the books on relationships for men. I read all the books on relationships for women.

He’s Just Not That Into You, check.

It’s Called A Breakup Because It’s Broken, check.

The Rules, check.

I even read my girlfriend’s copies of Cosmopolitan and Glamour to better understand the female psyche.

But most importantly, I went out and failed. And failed and failed and failed.

Slowly the material I was reading was changing the way I was showing up with women. The first couple of times I had some quick wins I remember thinking, “Holy shit! That actually worked?”

I don’t even know how and when it happened, but I went from knowing absolutely nothing about women to being able to attract (and more importantly build relationships with) incredible women whenever I wanted to.

I started successfully coaching my friends on attracting women and bettering their relationships. David and I even facilitated a workshop for fifteen women this summer on love, sex, and relationships. What? Is this even real life?

Things were great, but when I found myself suddenly single and location independent within the same month, my dating life became a little more complicated. After my last relationship ended abruptly in March 2012, I moved to New York City for seven weeks where the number of attractive, ambitious, and available women is infinity. I fell deep into the part-time job of “dating in NYC.”

Things got even more interesting once David and I started A Summer To Serve.

Imagine the following dialogue at a bar:

Her: “So, what do you do?”

Me: “Oh, I’m just traveling across the United States all summer doing volunteer work with my brother. Today we spent all day building homes with Habitat For Humanity and yesterday we spent all day playing with kids. We leave tomorrow morning though.”

Needless to say I had a lot of sex this year. Nothing too out of control though. I can count them all on my fingers and toes, I was always safe, and I know all of their names.

What was once the ultimate goal and primary focus in life as a frustrated college student became as easy as putting my shoes on. Going back to a girl’s place and having sex with her became as easy as asking her for a high five.

Somewhere towards the end of the year though I started to feel icky. I wasn’t making love anymore, I was masturbating into a woman. I have absolutely zero judgment against people who have lots of sex, but for me I just felt it wasn’t serving me anymore.

So I stopped.

I stopped sleeping with women, I stopped spending the night with women, I stopped calling women, I stopped flirting with women, and I essentially stopped everything with women unless it was business related.

At first, I felt a little lonely.

For the past couple of years, my go-to activity when I’m bored was doing something that involves women.

Have sex, talk in bed all day, go on a date, talk on the phone, chat on OkCupid, message on Facebook, have dinner, spend the night, cuddle, watch a movie together, or go out and meet more as if I didn’t already have enough.

For the first time in years I actually said these two dreaded words: “I’m bored.”

Slowly things started to turn around. I poured my free time into building my business or reading books that have been sitting in my reading queue.

And then something strange happened. I started seeing women. Not just seeing them with my eyes, but really, really seeing them.

Up until the challenge, almost every time I talked to a woman there was always the underlying thought of: “Am I going to have with sex her?”

Am I demonstrating higher value? Is she displaying indicators of interest? Should I physically escalate? Should we switch venues now?

Instead of worrying about sex, I just connected openly, authentically, and without any worry of what women thought of me. I shared openly about the challenge and had some hilariously transparent conversations around sex, love and intimacy. And without the possibility of sex, women openly shared their lives, stories, and feminine energy.

And for the first time I saw how beautiful every woman really is.

 

III. Booze

I had my first beer sometime in high school. Drinking was something that was not allowed in my household, as the law clearly states that the legal drinking age is 21.

So sometime in my junior year of high school, I snuck a couple of my dad’s beers. Since I was already breaking the law and the rules of my home, drinking one beer would be just as bad as drinking six. So I drank six.

I don’t remember too much about the night but I do remember spending the rest of the night crying in the bathtub. I remember saying, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” in between tears. The next day I was even more sorry as I had the first hangover of my life. Although I felt like garbage, something about getting drunk felt good to me. So I continued drinking wherever and whenever I can.

At the time it just seemed normal, but looking back I was an alcoholic pretty early on. I remember going to the convenience store in college and buying two Foster’s “oil cans” every morning and pouring them into one of those huge plastic Big Gulp mugs that you might see in the hands of a trucker. I’d sip on the beer throughout the day in McClelland Hall in my business classes.

My drinking finally came to a screeching halt when I got pulled over for going the wrong way on a one way street sometime in September 2004. I had been drinking heavily that night at a friend’s birthday party and I got stuck with a DUI.

For the first time in my life I got caught doing something wrong. For the first time I wasn’t ten feet tall and bulletproof. And for the first time I grew up a little.

At that point I committed to not drinking a sip of alcohol for a year. The year passed and I didn’t see the need to drink anymore. Finally, I had a drink on a cruise with my girlfriend at the time. That ended a streak of 20 months without alcohol.

Fast forward to 2012 and I found myself with a whole lot of time and freedom. The drinking started to pick up, especially as I started going to more conferences and workshops, hosting meetups, and staying with my friends all over the country. Even Summer To Serve was a non-stop party. We’d volunteer all day and party all night. I don’t know how we did it sometimes.

Leading into this challenge, the question I kept asking myself was, “Why am I even drinking?”

Some people use alcohol as a social crutch, to give them the “liquid courage” they need to talk to strangers or someone of the opposite sex. Some people use alcohol to escape the realities of their sad life. Neither of these applied to me.

The main reason why I drank is because it was a strong piece of my identity. Many of my friends know me as “that crazy epic party guy” or “the funnest person to go out with to the club.”

I was recently talking to my buddy Nathan about this concept of drinking being part of my identity and he responded back with, “what if you were still that crazy awesome dancy party guy, but you could do it SOBER?” I had never thought of that so I put myself up for the challenge.

Compared to sex/masturbation, not drinking was a piece of cake. I didn’t even think about drinking for most of the two months. I passed up bottle service at Armin Van Buuren for New Year’s Eve, free shots from the Rye House (one of our favorite spots in NYC), and countless nights out in New York City and Medellin, Colombia.

That picture of Nicky and I above this post? Totally sober. I’m just that fucking happy.

I quickly learned how to get into state without even drinking. I’d play off of the energy of those around me and I’d get totally plastered off of dance. My friends who I went out with had no idea I was totally sober until I told them the next day as they nursed their hangovers.

Since I stopped the challenge I had some great nights out in both Colombia and Mexico where I drank with my friends. The thing that’s changed though is the desire to drink is negligible.

I simply don’t need it anymore to be awesome. So why even drink?

I see myself not drinking ever again at some point in the future, but for now I’ll just enjoy it every once in a while around people who I trust.

 

IV. Masturbation

In addition to quitting women, I decide to make the challenge infinitely harder by cutting out all sex, including sex with myself. This is actually the part of the challenge that I’ve had the most conversation around with my friends. Why?

Well to start with, for most men masturbating is like breathing.

It’s not very uncommon for a single man to masturbate before bed as part of his nightly routine, somewhere in there with brushing and flossing his teeth.

My earliest memories were masturbating to department store catalogs. As a horny middle schooler, even a mom with a bad haircut in a Playtex bra was enough visual stimulation to do the job. I soon moved up to Victoria Secret catalogs and Mariah Carey music videos. Then something called the Internet came along.

With the Internet, men today have a unlimited amount of porn at their fingertips at all times.

There’s been a decent amount of research recently around porn and it’s extremely detrimental effects on our brains. This TEDx talk explains it in further detail, but watching pornography has a world of negative side effects, even causing erectile dysfunction in men as young as their twenties.

I honestly rarely watched porn this year (cause I was too busy having sex), but if it had been a couple of days since I’d last had sex I would pull up the latest, greatest, and top rated from MadThumbs or YouPorn on the screen of my choice.

This part of the challenge was the definitely the hardest (no pun intended). There were days (especially days 5-9) where I thought I was going to die of horny. An early journal entry for example:

Day 9: I’m ragingly horny. Girls in bikinis keep frequenting my dreams. I would fuck a hole in the wall right now. Literally. A motherfucking powdery dusty hole in some drywall. 

I know this is good for me somehow, but I haven’t figured it out yet, haha. Life is all just one big science experiment.

PS – Wanna quit drinking? Stop fucking AND drinking. You won’t even THINK about the drinking.

After the initial intensity subsided though, I dropped into a really good place.

The best thing about not masturbating regularly was my increase in sex drive. I watched a little porn around halfway through to make sure that the old adage about “if you don’t use it you lose it” wasn’t true. It definitely wasn’t. I thought my boner was going to rip through my shorts. In fact, I started to find myself getting aroused more often as the challenge went on.

Wake up every morning… boner.

Topless girl in a Colombian magazine at the supermarket… boner.

A stiff breeze through the apartment… boner.

I don’t have any scientific evidence, but I definitely felt like my testosterone levels were higher throughout the two months.

Sixty two days later though and I was still alive. My balls didn’t explode into a million pieces, despite what some people on Yahoo! Answers might have you believe.

 

V. Cold Showers

I was giving up my two favorite things for two months. How was I going to make this actually happen without quitting?

By taking a freezing cold shower every morning of course.

One of my closest friends Nick Reese got me onto the idea of a cold shower every morning to kick start your day. For one, there are actual health effects, including weight loss. For me though, the cold shower was most powerful as a metaphorical learning tool.

Every morning I didn’t want to take the cold shower. It pained me to do it. Over time though I learned to enjoy what was once hard. In addition to stepping up to a cold shower every morning, I found I was stepping up to handling things in other areas of my life.

Throughout the two months, I lost over ten pounds and crushed productivity in both personal and business affairs.

Sure the cold showers suck, but what sucks worse is not stepping up and doing what we’re here on this planet to do.

 

VI. Takeaways

So what did I learn from these two months of coming back to my center?

1. I Can Do Anything I Put My Mind To

A friend of mine asked me on Facebook why on earth I would do something like this. Honestly, it’s just to see if I can.

Every time I do something that seems impossible, I add that experience to the huge list of evidence that I can do superhuman shit.

Marathon with no training? No problem.

Try out for the US Olympic Skeleton team? Sure.

No sex, booze, or masturbation and a freezing cold shower every morning for two months? Hell yeah son.

I say it all the time, but the beauty of free will is that you can create for yourself any life you want. So why not be the best version of yourself? It’s simply a choice.

What’s next on your list of challenges that you can tackle next?

 

2. Dating Is A Big Waste Of Time

Wait, dating is awesome. Just the way that most people do it is a huge waste a time.

I know friends who go on dates with women that they don’t really like just to pass the time or have some companionship. Then they find themselves in relationships (or marriages) with women that they don’t really like.

Or they juggle two to four girls at the same time, spending countless hours on dates, in bed, or on the phone with average girls that they don’t really have any long term interest in.

The past couple of months I found myself with a good five to six hours of extra productivity a day. No dates, no talking on the phone, no OkCupid or Facebook messaging, no texting, no sleepovers, and no hangovers. This journal entry sums it up pretty well:

Day 54: I’ve miraculously lost 13 pounds in this ordeal as well. Is it from being happy? Is it from the lack of alcohol? Who knows, but I feel so on top of my game right now.

Every day I wake up with a sense of clarity. No fogginess from drinking the night before. No desire to stay in bed and cuddle with the girl who I slept next to last night. Just clarity and purpose on what I need to do today.

I will date again, but at this point in my life if she’s not a “Hell Yes,” she’s a “No.”

 

3. Sober Partying Is Awesome

I never stopped going out for the two months, I just stopped drinking.

There were several nights when I stayed out socializing, dancing, and talking until the sun came up. The next day though I would just be $100 richer and 1000 calories lesser.

Don’t get me wrong, alcohol has kickstarted most of the best nights of my life and dozens of my closest relationships.

I would even attribute much of my business from staying out all night at conferences like SXSW and WDS and building deep friendships with other entrepreneurs over drinks.

The secret though is that you don’t need to drink to be at a bar or club.

Try it the next time you go out. It will seem totally bizarre the first time. But then the next time it will get better. Then the next time you might even try sober dancing. Then one day you’ll find that you don’t need it any more.

Can you go out sober this weekend? The weekend after that? The rest of the month?

 

4. Woah, I’m Totally, Totally, Totally Single

Thursday is Valentine’s Day. I’m going to be spending it sober, single, and sans sex.

This is the first time in a long, long time that I have no one in my life. No girlfriend, no girls I’m “talking to,” and not even any potential love interests.

Where some would say this is a lonely place to be, I find it an exciting place to be. Anything can happen.

I have no idea who the next woman that I date is going to be. But I know she’s going to be ridiculously amazing.

 

5. This Blog Was Scary As Hell To Write But I Didn’t Die

I wrote this blog over the course of the past ten days.

Numerous times I wanted to trash it and just be happy with completing another impossible challenge.

But I know that there’s at least one person out there that will get something out of this post.

Maybe you’re having a having a hard time attracting women. Maybe you want to quit drinking. Maybe you want to kick your porn habit.

Or maybe you just need to know that there are other guys out there who think, feel, and sometimes act the same way as you.

So for that one man… because of you…

I reluctantly pressed “Publish.”

Now what are you going to do about it?

###

P.S. – Share this to the men in your life that could use it.

P.P.S. – That girl that you think I had sex with, I probably didn’t.

  • Drew Grub

    Excellent writing and admirable resolve, my good man. Inspirational. The next task that seems insurmountable, I’ll remember -Nothing is as hard as you convince yourself it is, and nothing is as big a deal as we make it-

    • http://www.hrostoski.com/ Mike Hrostoski

      Thanks brother. Crazy that we’ve all come so far since the first MC three years ago. What is left on the challenge list for the Monastic Challenge crew? No food, water, or oxygen for a month?

  • http://twitter.com/AlanPerlman Alan Perlman

    Epic, Mike. thanks for sharing.

    • http://www.hrostoski.com/ Mike Hrostoski

      NerveRush worthy? Haha, just kidding.

  • http://www.facebook.com/marilee.walker Marilee Walker

    Mike, your honesty is heartbreaking-ly (I’m an English prof, I am authorized to make up words) refreshing. There are patterns that have been ingrained in our lives over decades, and it is amazing the clarity and sheer radiance that comes from being able to shatter those negative restraints. Even a simple change can take the most extreme will power and dedication in the beginning, and you sharing your experiences can be what gives someone the strength to continue fighting to stay on their own path of positivism.

    • http://www.hrostoski.com/ Mike Hrostoski

      Thanks chica. You’re heartbreakingly awesome.

  • heatherlyone

    Loved this something fierce Mike! This is the kind of Real Talk we need more of in the interwebs. Mad respect.

    • http://www.hrostoski.com/ Mike Hrostoski

      Thanks Heather. Was a tough one to press publish one.

  • Max Mendoza

    You went through with it.. Both I’m writing & sharing this story, though most importantly in commuting & experiencing it. Bravo Brotha! Your courage continues to be an inspiration vato loco!!

    • http://www.hrostoski.com/ Mike Hrostoski

      Vato loco indeed, haha.

  • Scott

    Krushin life, like a boss! Keep on keeping on broski.

    • http://www.hrostoski.com/ Mike Hrostoski

      This post is soooo Jamaica 5.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mbleisen Mary Beth Leisen

    As a witness to the process of this ‘challenge’, I have honored it from the beginning – and even more so to read your insights from it. Your courage – as in the kind that comes from revealing all that’s in your heart – is amazing. Keep kicking authenticity ass!

    • http://www.hrostoski.com/ Mike Hrostoski

      Glad to have had your support and shamansauce through the process. And good thing we had lots of business stuff to talk about. Two months without MB would truly be Mission Impossible.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=42112756 Amanda Kay

    This is great!! Well written and love your points!

    • http://www.hrostoski.com/ Mike Hrostoski

      Thanks Amanda!

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  • http://www.thepathtowonderful.com/ Melissa Maris

    I was impressed when I heard about this and I’m impressed yet again. Just the thought of taking a cold shower sends my Body Compass running for this hills. Thank you for being brave enough to do this and to share your story. I laughed out loud multiple times while reading, so thanks for that too!

    • http://www.hrostoski.com/ Mike Hrostoski

      Thanks Melissa. I can imagine you and Alan giggling at this one over drinks. :)

  • http://twitter.com/itsmesahana Sahana

    You are so fantastic. This is so refreshing. And I’m proud of you for being so damn authentic and honest. Amazing.

  • http://www.pascalwagner.com/ Pascal Wagner

    Mike, an amazing story. I find that being the most vulnerable and open, I gain the most out of the relationships and people I surround myself with. Only by pushing through the uncomfortableness do we grow. Glad and proud that you pushed that final Publish button. Looking forward to hearing more stories and linking up for drinks of water at the bar =P

    • http://www.hrostoski.com/ Mike Hrostoski

      You’re a rockstar brotha. Looking forward to hanging out when I’m in Boulder. Hopefully moving there within the next year.

  • Ccharles

    I’m not even a man and reading this post was super inspirational =)

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  • http://justicewordlaw.com/ Justice Wordlaw IV

    Congrats on what you’ve done. I did something similar to this and it was a complete change. I stopped having cigars, sex, and tv for 60 days and that was a complete life change. Thanks for sharing your experiences with this.

  • http://www.clearmindedcreative.com/ Milo

    Excellent post Mike. I’m currently almost five months into a booze free year. I’ve been out countless times, and done the dancing whilst sober thing quite happily. I’m pretty introverted though so still learning the art of sober conversation in bars – I used to rely on alcohol to loosen my tongue.

    As for not masturbating, I can see how that would help. Cold showers though I’m not quite ready for!

    p.s. the Day 9 diary entry is hilarious!

  • rdubbs

    Well done. You’ve reached one guy who’s glad that there are other people out there who do random, difficult things just to prove they can.

    Appropriately, the link popped up on my Facebook feed through a Brazilian friend who I met during a monthlong study program in France.

    Here’s to self discovery – cheers.

  • Seanmichaelbrink

    Bravo Mike!

  • http://www.free-range-humans.com/ Marianne Cantwell

    This is fucking awesome. Thanks for sharing.

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  • http://twitter.com/Kendalstweets Kendal

    Love it! I’m a new fan of you and your blog. I wish more men would examine themselves and their lives (a few exes come to mind…). Especially if it meant they would really see women, instead of just thinking about how to sleep with us. Gah. We need you! Teach the men! Save the world!

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  • joshlipo

    Dude…this is so epic and courageous I cannot even tell you. And you didn’t just do some courageous act, splay it all over the internet, and say “here…this is my emotional release.” That’s something I’ve done in the past.

    You actually took the time to make this a very informative and well-written piece with some damn good takeaways. Keep doing the impossible, Brotha.

  • casey

    Love this! I’m doing a year’s worth of month-long challenges and am currently in my booze-free month, so that section really resonates with me. I also love the idea of doing a “no men”, month. i was debating a no-sex month but (as a woman), that seems too easy… No men would be a cool social experiment though!

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  • vinlivre

    Love this post! It’s honest, it’s real, and it’s inspirational. :)

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  • Hayley

    Mike, Cannot wait to meet you in Costa Rica Matey! Lovin’ this blog =)

  • Lyterock

    Wow Michael, I appreciate this post! You and I have a very similar upbringing and subsequent demons. I too was raised as a Jehovah’s Witness and the strict upbringing drove me to early drinking and partying. My first drink was when I was in the 10th grade. Now I’m close to turning 30 and I’ve been binge drinking and partying like my life depends on it ever since. I have concluded that I need to give it up, the drinking at least, but was wondering how. My friends too depend on me as the epic partier. So I’m going to try your challenge of partying like I’m drunk but be totally sober. Starting this weekend! Hope this goes well. Thanks again for the post!

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  • RebeccaTracey

    Oh man… so many similarities between us. It’s refreshing to hear someone talk about these things in a really honest and open way, and with such courage and confidence that these musings are something that will help others. Great post!

    • http://ohheyworld.com/ Drew Meyers

      An entertaining, and honest read, for sure..

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  • Mary Armstrong

    this one made me laugh out loud, opened my heart, and inspired me to live big into my challenges…thank you for sharing yourself…stunning writing!

  • Anthony

    I wasn’t raised up like one of JWs, but I became one when I was 16YO, it was my own decision, and I don’t know why you guys say that there were a lot of restrictions, nobody is going to force you to do something that you don’t want to do, and Jehovah wants someone who is able to do his will out of love, not grudgingly or under compulsion. And one more thing, JWs don’t create rules or somehing, what we do is what we learn in the Bible, because we love Jehovah.

  • Adrienne Marie Almeda

    nice!

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  • sharmaine

    Thank you, good sir :)

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