A huge thank you to Stunningly Strong for allowing us to use parts of Michelle’s interview for our post below. If you would like to read the full interview, click here.
Earlier this month, one of my high school classmates, Michelle McKee, passed away. Michelle was always so kind to me in high school, but I never knew much about her life until just recently.
As it turns out, while Michelle’s story is very unique, it also parallels mine in many ways. And even though she’s passed on, I feel it’s important for the Real Girls F.A.R.T. community to carry her message forward.
Born & Raised A Church Girl
Just like my family, Michelle McKee was raised in the church—a strict environment with God at the center. You didn’t ask questions, you simply obeyed. As soon as the school bell rang, you would find Michelle and her brother back at church, cleaning the church sign, scrubbing the sanctuary, pulling the weeds in the flowerbeds, vacuuming the hallways, cleaning the bathrooms—if it needed cleaned, they had to do it.
Through Michelle’s adult years, it became more and more evident that her parents desperately wanted to be a part of her life. So, they offered to lead her church’s youth program. Unfortunately, during this time of growth and learning, it was unacceptable for Michelle to do any wrong, even if it was just passing notes in class.
As you can imagine, the moment Michelle was finally considered an adult, she yearned for more freedom. However, while she attended Capital University, she chose to live at home with her parents, where she had to face the reality of “their house, their rules.” That meant that if she wanted to drive her car, she absolutely had to go to church anytime the doors were open. And yes, she still had to sit with her parents during services, wear dresses on Sunday and participate in the youth ministry, even though she didn’t want to be a youth leader.
For Michelle, church had become a thing of control. If she didn’t follow the rules, she wouldn’t get to experience freedom.
But as she worked her way through Capital University, she discovered how to live a double life—one as a church girl, the other as a party girl. Think: clubs, dancing, drinking, sex and even weed. Turns out, many of the people Michelle was partying with were also from her church. Ironic? Absolutely. But the constant judgment and condemnation from the church is what kept them away from the one place they really needed to be. Talk about irony.
A Little One on the Way
At the age of twenty-one, Michelle became pregnant with her daughter. Keeping it from her parents for seven months, she finally left them a note. To her surprise, they embraced her, apologized for where they went wrong, and supported her pregnancy, offering her to live with them, provided she continued to go to school. She felt as if her relationship with her parents had turned over a new leaf.
But after six months, the control started to creep back in. They began to dictate how Michelle should raise her daughter, and they continued to use the house and car as a means of control over her.
Lucky for Michelle, she had recently landed a good job, which could afford her to live on her own. Unfortunately, this newfound sense of freedom led to more partying, and another child on the way. Twenty-five years old, with two kids from two different men, Michelle felt like a complete disappointment to her parents. And after an intense intervention from her parents about her verbally abusive boyfriend, whom she would later find out was cheating on her, she had had enough.
What Am I Doing? Where Am I Going?
For so long, Michelle had seen the church has a place of discipline, not one of mercy and grace. She had reached a point in her life where she felt it was much easier to not be a Christian. That is, until a couple of years ago.
One day, as Michelle was driving, she heard a minister on the radio talking about how he and his wife had both struggled in relationships before they met. When they started dating, the minister and his wife decided they would remain abstinent until marriage. Yes, they wanted a physical relationship with each other, but they also wanted a spiritual relationship together. The minister mentioned that when you sleep with someone, you take on their spirit, making it incredibly hard to break those soul ties. These words had spoken to Michelle, and on that day, she decided to stay abstinent until she met her future husband.
Shedding It All
Something that struck me as inspiring by Michelle’s story was her road to authenticity—something we at Real Girls F.A.R.T. embrace wholeheartedly. As it turns out, Michelle had to reevaluate her relationships, cut toxic people out of her life, and change her number. Does this sound familiar to you?
In fact, Michelle even started a blog. Even though she considered herself a very private person, she felt she needed to write, not just for her personal growth, but to help others, as well.
It had taken 20 years for Michelle to finally reach this point in her life with the Lord. And with that, I would like to share with you this piece of inspiration from Stunningly Strong:
Parents of Prodigals, this is what I want to say to you: Even though we may not be walking with God the way you want us to or the way you think we should, He still watches over us, He still loves us and cares for us and He still has His eye on us and His hand on our shoulder and He will still use us, just like He used me in the middle of my mess. Love us THROUGH this time and don’t use church or God as way of discipline or scorn. Please don’t look at us as an embarrassment to you or your walk with the Lord. The first place we need to feel welcomed and valued is home and the second place is the church. If you present a home full of love and church full of grace we will come back. It may not be in your timing but we will return. You can love us without condoning our lifestyle in the same way the Holy Spirit will convict us without condemning us.
Michelle McKee was born July 13, 1978, in Columbus, Ohio and passed July 10, 2019 at Mt. Carmel East Hospital. Michelle is survived by her daughter, Mayah Alyssa McKee, her son, Myles Avery McKee, parents Elder Edward & Patricia (White) McKee and one brother Edward Samuel McKee. If you would like to learn more about Michelle’s life, you can read her full story on Stunningly Strong.