College Days: Catch the Spirit or Control the Spirit?

College days.  I couldn't wait to go to college.  I couldn't wait to be somewhere, anywhere other than my home.  I worked two and three jobs just to pay for the initial payments for school.  It was the end of August and I was thrilled, excited beyond belief that I was going to Florida to basically start my life.  Waiting for me there was also my sister and that affected my college choice greatly.  She and I would be together enjoying life in sunny Florida and going to class.  I received the packet for Pensacola Christian College prior to leaving my home and I read the rule book.  And the "things you need to know" book you received did not really include ALL the things you need to know before attending this college.  I began to get a little nervous and think wow, can I really abide by all those rules and then I  thought, well, yeah, I'll suck it up and deal with what's dealt to me.  Little did I know...

That I would get demerits for wet hair, sleeping in my unmade bed at 7 in the morning on a Saturday, demerits for not scrubbing out my sink "good enough", demerits for wearing socks instead nylons the wrong time of day.  Demerits and a lot of them for sleeping through a class by accident.  We were made to do everything, even be to bed on time every night at eleven o'clock.  I was nineteen years old and I went from being told what to do, to being told what to do even more.  In fact, I was told more what to do at college than at any other phase of my life.  Yes, even my abusive, controlling father controlled me less and my Christian high school controlled me less than this.  But here I was I was old enough to drive a car, old enough to vote and old enough to have a job of my own(oh, but not the one of my choosing at PCC, girls could only work on campus), but not old enough to decide when is the proper time I will go to bed?

Little did I know...

That I would almost get kicked out for a semester for reaching too close to one hundred and fifty demerits for silly things like not wearing nylons in the burning heat because really it was causing rashes and other things I don't care to discuss.  Those demerits for socks, slightly wet hair and slightly dirty sinks or showers really rack up.  I was such a bad girl.  I was raked over the coals for having as many demerits and boy, was I warned.  I felt like a little kid in a principle's office, not a grown woman by any stretch of the imagination.  Of course, it being a Christian college, we went to church and to chapel and I mean every day.  And not any church, we had to attend the church that they provided to us students.  No venturing out and visiting another church, well, that would be heinous.  Just think if all these students wanted to go to church where they wanted to?  They would develop all sorts of notions.  Why, that wouldn't be fitting, it just wouldn't be proper! 

I was in my fourth year there as a student and I was engaged to be married.  My intended wouldn't set foot in their church, so he would go to another church in town.  We were desiring to be counseled in our dating process and went to the church administration and asked to have marriage counseling with the pastor and they said he was booked full through to the time we were to be married.  Then I asked if we could see the second guy in charge of doing such counseling, he was also booked full.  I asked them if I could get a chaperon of their approving to go to my fiancee's church to receive counseling from his pastor and they refused to let us go.  If I was going to get counseling I had to get it there.  I had to go to this church and receive only its counseling, but they had absolutely no time for us.

In the months before our marriage in May, in the fourth year I attended college, (I had to go six years total to graduate because I was on contract to pay for tuition), I went to the administration to ask them if it was going to be fine for me to attend church with my husband after we were to be married.  They said it was fine for me to go to church with my husband and that I could also come back to college to finish my degree after we were married.

We got married and I continued to work for the college through the Summer.  In the middle of the Summer we decided to start attending a different church in town.  I told the college our plans (it was a church that was currently on their "black list", no, seriously, they really have one) of wanting to switch our membership to another church.  I know now that was a very stupid thing for me to have done, but ya' know, I was a "good girl" and I wanted to play things straight, I played things straight almost my entire time there and still, this nonsense ensued.  I didn't "rebel", although, maybe I should have and maybe that is why so many of these grown-ups rebel and leave or get kicked out of this establishment...because the whole cycle of control is simply maddening.  I remember the turnover rate being very high when I atttended and now I totally understand why. 

So, I told the college what our intentions were and they were not happy at all.  They said that was not going to be allowed and I kid you not, they were now demanding that both my husband and I were to attend the para-church for the college if I was to attend the school any longer.  Of course, my husband was livid.  He was not going to be attending the school's church.  No way was he doing that and I would have never wanted him to for my sake or for the sake of finishing my degree.  The degree I worked through sweat and  tears to receive.  That was the end of my college debut.  All that and they deceived me and made it sound like it was going to be okay to go to another church while I was married.  Because we were "church-hopping" we were no longer given the green light to be in another church other than theirs.   

I look back on that time and I think, wow, maybe God was saving me from something worse in the ever-thickening layer of unlawful control and power over me and now, my husband, our family.  Maybe God was grooming me for a mind that was free to think and free to rest in His non-manipulative ways of love, forgiveness, hope, mercy and grace.  Yes, I was very sad at the time that I was literally forced not to finish something I started, but it's okay now.  I may go back to school someday and get the degree I always wanted to get.  Until then, I say beware of controlling colleges that keep you from thinking for yourself and walking in a personal fruitfulness without the loving Spirit of Christ being allowed to guide you in your decisions, every, single one of them.  Because if He is able to save you, He is able to keep you from falling.  He has power, let's not dismiss Him in the lives of the little children in our care daily.  Let's let go of our grown children, they are not ours or anyone's, they are Christ's or will be Christ's hopefully some day.  Let's not crush His Spirit within them with our control and our lust for power.

So beware of colleges that are merely, as one friend put it, "Christian daycare centers".  Because if someone has to tell Johnny when to get up and how to live and what to wear and where to go when he is eighteen, nineteen and twenty and twenty-one, well, it's an ill wind of immaturity, spiritually and mentally speaking, that blows no good thing.  We haven't done our job as parents if our children need to attend one of these controlling colleges to keep them out of trouble or keep their wits and senses about them.  And if they fall, they fall, if they are meant to get back up, they will.  If they are tested or tempted, so what?  What are we afraid of?  That the Holy Spirit will be free to kick in and help them make their own decisions?  Well, that's sad.  He has all the power to save, but not all the power to keep?  I assure you, as one that has fallen again and again and again, that He does have power to save and He has all power to keep.   

And may I say that water parks and accreditation won't change what's really wrong.  The winds of real change really do need to blow.  The wind of letting go of control must blow and the need to step back must come and woe unto these establishments who will not allow Holy God to do His work, His beautiful work in the life of every believer.  It is a true and honest work, sincere and pure in every form and free.  Let us all step out of the way of the Holy Spirit, shall we?


Bethany said...

Thank you for this post. One of my friends is slightly considering PCC [she's heard only good about it] and your post confirmed what I've already heard about it, and spurred me to investigate a little more. My dear friend will not go there if it's the last thing I do!

Deb Paul said...

I know they have changed somewhat over the years, but I believe the basic lust for control over people still exists there. I have no idea why a free-thinking, Holy Spirit filled, free believer in Jesus Christ would want to go to a college like this. I was in the system because I was following the pattern of life that I grew up with, but I look back now in utter disbelief that I was even in such a place of learning, subjecting myself to being treating like a child day in and day out. I think a lot of parents send their kids there because compared with most colleges it is fairly cheap and the actual education part of it is pretty good, but sometimes cheaper tuition and higher learning come at a very high price. Being in a place where the stunting of the growth of other grown believers is a common practice, to me, is not really the best idea. Hey, your friend is free to do whatever she wants, but there are Christian colleges out there that have no interest in controlling or oppressing the life of another believer, that possess basic parameters for living in a dorm, etc., but don't assign seats and have bedtimes and endless demerits and rules for every silly thing under the sun. Surely that would be a better college to attend, where you have to actually make your OWN decisions on most levels. Hmmm, methinks so.

Incongruous Circumspection said...

Why on God's green earth would you EVER want to wear your hair to bed wet!??? Whenever my girls do that it takes HOURS to comb and brush out the knots. They beg for mommy because I guess I'm too rough, even though I feel I'm as gentle as a feather. Anyway, hope you learned your lesson and now use the hair dryer before bed every night. (Sarcasm, of course).

Deb Paul said...

IC, good one. I could go to bed with a wet head all I wanted. I couldn't walk around campus with wet hair. And yes, that was ludicrous.

Lynne said...

So many rules! I wouldn't have lasted very long there at all -- I'm amazed that you lasted as long as you did.
Many rules + a climate of fear -- so now I am sitting here wondering two things:
what were they really afraid of?
were there as many rules for men as women?

Becky said...

I wanted to share a link with you:

After recently seeing this news report about abuse in the IFB church and learning of the link between IFB and PCC, BJU, I am not all that surprised about the abusive controlling atmosphere you describe.

Lisa Kerr said...

Thanks so much for your post. I'm sneaking in a read at work, so I haven't finished the whole post yet. lol

However, I'd just like to say, so far your experience at PCC reminds me a lot of my time in Master's Commission (which was birthed from Assembly of God roots, and possibly similar roots). We had extremely rigid rules of being in bed at 10 pm and having to scrub down our bathrooms and every room in the church we used.

Thank you for sharing your story with such boldness. I can't tell you how much it's going to help others by speaking up against abuse.

Lisa Kerr

Recovering Alumni said...

I've heard horror stories about PCC for the past 20+ years. I'm sorry you went through this but glad you escaped! PCC is abusive through and through - they have nothing whatsoever to do with Jesus!

Hopewell said...

How many girls (or guys) lacked your courage to question? Sad. So Sad. I am watching in horror as one of my daughter's friend's is being pushed towards PCC and that school in Indiana that won't be named. Poor kid. Thanks for telling your story.

Robbie Grayson said...

My wife and I had to get our marriage license the DAY of our wedding (her graduation day) because they would not let my wife go off with me and my parents to get it in advance. Hahaha. Talk about asinine.