She hid her personal pain with anger to keep others at bay. She regularly battled anxiety. Fought depression. Cut herself.

And then initially and frustratingly fought the idea of reaching out for help.

“I went in almost kicking and screaming,” she said.

Kylei Kinworthy, a 15-year-old Columbus East High School sophomore, was referring to her first visit three years ago to the free support group program Tuesday Connection at Community Church of Columbus, 3850 N. Marr Road. Her mom suggested she be a part of the “Life Hurts, God Heals” group for adolescent girls in grades 7 through 12.

Story continues below gallery

The teen agreed to talk about her experience to highlight a new, varied, 16-group segment of Tuesday Connection for adults, teens and children running Sept. 13 through Nov. 29.

“I was not into the idea at all,” Kinworthy said. “And I didn’t want to talk (in the meetings).

“But, once I got into the group, what happened little by little was that other people opened up, I made connections with them and eventually could relate to what they were going through.”

No wonder organizers label it Tuesday Connection.

Scott Hundley, director of counseling and community at the church and a Tuesday Connection organizer, said getting people simply to relate to one another emotionally is a key.

“A lot of times, people think they need counseling, when what they really need is connection,” Hundley said, referring to small groups or support groups.

“Sometimes that can be more beneficial,” Hundley said. “There are positives I can pour into someone’s life. And there are positives that they can pour into my life as well.”

The weekly informal gatherings usually attract 180 to 250 people of all ages and from all churches and denominations, not to mention those claiming no faith or no particular belief. This marks Tuesday Connection’s 10th anniversary.

Each group is led by trained volunteers, an element that some past participants have said they liked. That’s partly because many of those volunteer leaders share with group members their own journey through whatever topic group members are confronting.

Although organizers have not kept track of the total number of participants, they do know that, through the decade, they have prepared more than 22,000 meals for participants.

A young, local single parent who has attended a single-parenting group in the past said that while she was unsure what help she possibly could garner from a group, she saw it as worth a try.

Kinworthy, pairing her Tuesday Connection support groups since 2013 with one-on-one counseling, feels so much better these days that she is entertaining the idea of a career in counseling. In the meantime, she reaches out to depressed and angry peers at school whenever she can.

She will be in this session’s “Life Hurts, God Heals” group with an eye specifically toward helping others who are as depressed and hurting, as she had been. Toward that end, she has invited a male friend to attend the group.

“I simply feel like I am being used by God,” Kinworthy said.

She spoke it in a soft, compassionate way, believing that God sometimes redeems pain for his glory and others’ hope and healing. She gets the idea that the path to a better day is fraught with struggle.

“Oh, absolutely,” she said. “For one thing, it takes laying down your pride.”

She thought for only a few seconds about where she would be without Tuesday Connection. She acknowledged that such a scenario would be painful.

“I would be in a very dark place,” Kinworthy said. “… and probably very, very sad.”

Finding strength in numbers

What: Tuesday Connection support groups.

When: Tuesdays Sept. 13 through Nov. 29. Free dinner at 5:30 p.m. Groups meet 6:30 to 8 p.m.

Where: Community Church of Columbus, 3850 N. Marr Road.

Cost: Free.

Groups for adults:

  • Boundaries For Singles
  • Celebrate Recovery (for those wishing to overcome an addiction life-controlling habit)
  • DivorceCare (for those separated or divorced)
  • Embrace Grace (for young women with an unplanned pregnancy)
  • English As a Second Language
  • Financial Peace University (money management)
  • Griefshare (for those grieving the death of a loved one)
  • Hopekeepers (for those with a chronic illness or chronic pain)
  • Insight Group (for those with a loved one battling addiction)
  • Parent Project (for parents of adolescents ages 11-17)
  • Risk (for men, understanding risk-taking as spiritual growth)
  • Wounded By Shame, Healed By Grace (for women, unmasking lies that prevent one from moving forward)

Groups for teens:

  • Life Hurts, God Heals (for adolescent girls in grades 7-12, focusing on relationship struggles and emotional pain)
  • Wild at Heart (adolescent guys in grades 7-12 discussing topics such as passion, risk taking, purpose and being authentic)

Groups for children

  • DivorceCare for Kids (for children in grades 2-6 aimed to help them heal from the pain of separation or divorce)
  • Inside Out (divided into three age groups for 4-6, 7-9 and 10-12 examining the life of King David and topics such as courage, loyalty, obedience and more)

Information and registration: 812-348-6257 or cccolumbus.org.

Brian Blair is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at bblair@therepublic.com or 812-379-5672.