I started attending TYC/GC as a senior in high school, after a close friend of mine started attending services as he was going to school at CMU. I had already been accepted to Central to begin in the fall of 2005, but I was excited to start my life in Mount Pleasant early. I was invited to the Celebrate the Light Christmas Performances, both at the Capital, where I lived in Lansing, and at the weekend services, where I was subsequently baptized. I truly felt the Holy Spirit speaking to me, and leading me to Him. I was welcomed in the congregation with smiles, but some concern… leadership (that had been considered my friends that I knew BEFORE the church became such a thing in their lives) worried that I spent too much time away from home while I was still finishing high school, and were concerned that I had feelings for my friend at CMU.He was encouraged to take a SIX MONTH hiatus from contact with me… (This had been my BEST FRIEND for almost four years) and I was devastated. My high school prom was suddenly no longer something I looked forward to, a summer of living IN THE SAME CITY was so incredibly difficult, especially with us having the same group of friends, and I felt HURT, daily. This was not the first time that this was encouraged… and I’m not sure how forced.

When I came up to CMU in the fall, I rejoined the ranks at the church! I was excited to attend services at Warriner and invite my new roommates to join… I attended the “new person” training classes, and went to – sometimes- three services a week, to spend time talking to God and getting to know the Body. I was always approached by females who wanted to spend more time with me, and I was encouraged to join the Drama Ministry, which I did and loved… However, part of a ministry team, was being held accountable for every thought, feeling, person you interact with inside and outside the church, and how your life is going in general. I was definitely not used to “checking in” with such personal things, but was happy to have some trusting people to vent to, most specifically about a relationship I hoped to pursue, and about problems at home with my parents.

I was more than encouraged to stay in Mount Pleasant (no job, no place to live- this theme comes up often) to avoid going home to the sinful situation that I would likely return to. (My father was an alcoholic and had been going through a messy second divorce.) I fought this, feeling that I was truly needed at home, and ended up going. I feel like this echoed in a lot of my relationships… I was not encouraged to spend time with a roommate that I brought to the church to sing in the Christmas choir that year (because she was not a Christian… she just wanted to sing), and was encouraged to cut her out completely when I confided in someone that she had come out to me as bisexual (I have always been a supporter of love in any form, and my voice was not appreciated on the subject at TYC/GC)…. Nor, was I encouraged to spend time with my friends from high school who still visited with me weekly, several of which attended many Accoustic Brews, and came to support me in dramas and Christmas choirs, even without a Christian faith themselves. I was hurt, and where I didn’t drop these people entirely from my life, I became a more judgemental person at home and almost pushed away many of these people for good. I’m happy to report that I have my family and friends back… I know that isn’t true of everyone who has posted here so far.

I was broken hearted when the drama ministry ended. I was told that God was “No longer in it”, but we had also been under a new leader (PC), who I didn’t particularly enjoy reporting to anyway. I was encouraged to spend all of my time working on dramas, reading the Bible, and prayer… When I said I was job hunting, I was reminded that a job that took time from the church wouldn’t be the right fit for me. (Okay, but seriously, I needed to pay my bills. I never got money from the church when times were tough… so we had to still WORK.) I was encouraged to leave my living situation with my bisexual roommate, and suddenly, so many women were wanting to have dinner with me, or coffee, or let me come and see their places so that I could decide if I wanted to be THEIR roommates… I was blindsided. And, more than that, but to this day, many of those women probably don’t even remember me because my only purpose in their life was to be molded by them, because someone else told them they had to.

I ended up living with several people from the church when I left it. I remember the last service that I went to… usually the music, the lights, the testimony… SOMETHING would move me… but no longer. I felt emotionless, standing there, between my roommates. When we left then, I never came back… until the funeral for SK… (That was painful enough, to be in that room, but to know that I was there with others who had already left, who were already hurting, made it bearable.)

I still remember the last (and maybe only) one on one conversation I had with BF… We met for lunch at a local restaurant, and where I don’t remember much of the conversation at all, I remember the end. He told me that he hoped to help young mothers. I was so naive and excited by this– young people going to college are introduced to some enticing and interesting things, and sometimes things didn’t go as planned… I knew our Planned Parenthood was closing, and I was excited to hear how we could be a TRUE HELP to these women… He told me that he hoped to get a hold of an ultrasound machine and offer free sonograms to women to show them that they have no choice, that they’re a murderer if they consider abortion. (This was almost 10 years ago now, so these are definitely NOT his exact words, but just a paraphrase… just how I felt they came out, sitting there so long ago.) I was disgusted and hurt… I left that lunch feeling awful inside. Sure, not everyone agrees with the issue… but a lunch topic to discuss with someone you hardly spoke to at all? NO.

There are so many more things I could take about, but I’m already shaking and losing my train of thought, just trying to get everything out there. In the end, I’m glad that I ended up at TYC/GC… I learned a lot of things about who I am and what I’m able to put up with. I have so many wonderful friends who I would be lost without and am so glad that even though it is painful, we can be here together. I’m thankful to anyone who maybe wasn’t as close who’s reached out to me, anyone who remembers me, anyone who was there with me… with us.

I will always believe in the God who loves us all. I will always believe in the God that is there to heal us. After this experience, I am shaken from the church, with no desire to go back. I appreciate anyone reading this to please respect where I’m at with that. Some wounds are just too deep. My hope is that we can save others from this pain as we move forward and share our stories.