Mars Hill is a well-known church in America and one that I went to for a good 6 months. It was the last six months I ever went back to church out of the four years of my involvement in Christianity. I’ve gone to other churches before this, but when I moved to a different state, I had to find another church to go to. Ideally, a church is a place where people go to worship God, build relationships and become more enlightened through various sermons. The problem for me was there was always too much noise from beginning to end. The worship portion felt forced. The lights would start dimming and melodic sounds from instrumentals led to what felt like a full out concert. I’ve been to many concerts, so I would know. It was hard to worship or even think beyond the blaring noises that came out of the instruments. I examined my own heart only to realize I was moved by some songs and annoyed by others depending on familiarity. What I was doing was not worshiping. I was creating an image of God in my own mind based on the songs I liked with lyrics that moved me. Is that true worship? When the pastor would start speaking, I felt entertained because he was funny. He made people laugh constantly. When he went out of town, another speaker took his place and I remember feeling bored…extremely bored. Something inside of me clicked, it was as though I didn’t feel connected to this God at all. I was going through the motions because guilt would result in me not going. So one day, I got up during the middle of a sermon and went out into the lobby area. I said to myself, “You shouldn’t give up, try again.” So I went up to the front desk and told the woman that I was having a really hard time and needed to talk to someone. She went into the back room to find someone for me and a young woman in her mid-twenties walked out. She was saying how she heard I was having a hard time and wanted to know how she can help. I told her I was having a hard time believing Jesus is truly the only son of God. I asked her right off the bat, “Why do you believe in Jesus?” She thought about it for a little while and said she grew up in a Christian home and didn’t have a relationship with “the Lord.” When school was hectic for her, she gave prayer a chance and was surprised her grades got better. Naturally I was expecting more, so I nodded and stared at her hoping for her to add on. She looked uncomfortable and said, “Let me go get someone else for you.” I was not only confused, but felt ashamed. I thought there was something wrong with me. Then a man in his thirties walked out with an older gentleman and they greeted me. I told him that I knew the gospel quite well, but didn’t understand why Jesus had to be the only son of God. I asked him if he could tell me more referencing outside the Bible or personal experience why Jesus is the only son of God. He then told me the gospel using the Bible. I was disappointed. It felt generic. He didn’t ask me about my life or struggles. Once again, I nodded and fell silent. It was the whole “We were born in sin; Jesus came and washed it away when he was crucified and resurrected.” I just came out of seminary school, so this was Christianity 101 to me. He too said he will grab another woman for me because he didn’t think he was the right person for me to talk to, he thought a counselor would be best. At that moment, I truly felt something was wrong with me even more. The older gentleman literally said nothing; he looked like he was overseeing the whole thing to make sure this man was telling the gospel correctly. Another woman came out (probably mid 20-early 30’s) and offered to sit down with me over coffee on Tuesday to discuss my feelings because she was a counselor there and wanted to help me out. I was beyond thrilled, it was exactly what I was looking for-real connection. We exchanged information. When Tuesday came, I got ready and waited for the time to come when I could speak to her. I received a text from her saying she couldn’t make it and instead of sitting over coffee, she will just meet me at church on Sunday. I was saddened to the core. She gave me hope and dropped me in an instant. Not only did I not return to church, but I never texted back or heard from her again, not even a text inquiring how I was doing. Then I figured it out, I was another duty, another task on someone’s list, another patient who needed help…not a friend. The girlfriend I went to church with every Sunday was the only friend I ever made (church related)and I didn’t even meet her at church. I met her outside of her apartment when I was smoking a cigarette on a rainy, cold night. She came up and bummed one off of me and said her family is very Christian and she didn’t want them to see her smoke (she was 25 years old then). We clicked and went to Mars Hill together until the day I decided enough is enough. Needless to say, I never came back and I don’t miss it. I don’t have anything against Christianity, it’s just my idea of worship has changed. I am glad things happened the way they did because I don’t have live a lie anymore. The guilt isn’t there. I don’t worship a God of my imagination, but a God who I truly believe is loving and accepting. I’ve learned to reach out to people in ways I wish they would have reached out to me. I gravitate towards people who feel alone and confused because I felt that way myself. I don’t walk around thinking people are going to go to hell for their beliefs. I am much happier spiritually. Sure, I am still somewhat broken, but it’s better than going through the motions and pretending like nothing is wrong.