When “Perfect” Isn’t So Perfect: Priscilla’s Story

“A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy dwelling.”  Psalm 68:5

“In the day when I cried out, You answered me, and made me bold with strength in my soul.”  Psalm 138:3

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*****It is that time of year again: Fall stories! Wholehearted Woman Ministries’ mission is helping women be fully surrendered to the lordship of Jesus Christ and courageously on-mission for Him – one heart at a time.  One of the ways we do that is by sharing real-life stories of Christian women both past and present who have decided to follow Jesus wholeheartedly in this way.  No matter what season of life you are in, God is calling you to a place of deep and wholehearted relationship with Him.  We pray that each story told over the next few months is used by God to fashion your individual heart, to know and experience Him even more deeply, and to joyfully do His will to His glory!  “Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story.” (Psalm 107:2) Read on!

God ALWAYS uses a surrendered heart and reveals Himself in wonderful ways.

Priscilla is the Next Steps pastor at Church on the Move in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  God has given her a deep love for her family, her church community, and for Him!  Throughout our lives, we often find that there are specific seasons when God helps us to know and experience Him in a way we never had before.   The story He is writing in your own life is one that can and will be used by God to also introduce others to Jesus Christ.  No matter what, God wants our whole heart as He lovingly draws us closer to Himself.  We trust and pray that this testimony will be used in that way for you!  This is Priscilla’s story…   

How have you personally experienced God and fully surrendered your whole heart to Him?  Will you share some of your journey with us? 

Growing up in the late 70s and early 80s, everyone thought we had the picture-perfect family. My brother and I had a mom who was beautiful, kind, and loved the Lord, and a father who basically looked like Sylvester Stallone (the younger Italian Stallion version, not the 2020 version). We moved to Broken Arrow so my dad could attend Bible college, the obvious thing to do since he wanted to be a pastor. And boy did he have a gift. He had a charisma that just drew people to him and the uncanny ability to memorize and quote scripture. My mom was a concert pianist by degree and loved playing hymns. My brother and I were well-behaved kids and always looked the part. Like I said…the perfect family.

What people didn’t know was that our home life was nothing like what they saw in public. Without going into detail, my father was not the man he portrayed to be. If we had social media back then, it would have been the typical fallacy – things are not always as people allow the public to see. Our home life was broken, hostile, and abusive, and soon we found ourselves picking up the pieces of a shattered family to form a new reality…my dad left, and we were now fatherless.

The most vivid memories I have of my mom growing up were of her reading her tattered, marked-up Bible every single night, praying over us diligently, and working 2 to 3 jobs as a single parent trying to provide for our family. I could see God’s goodness through the life she lived every single day, but the core truth of my life was much different. How could a heavenly Father love me when my earthly father didn’t?

I’ve been a “Christian” all of my life. Faithfully attending and serving in local churches for as long as I can remember. It’s the one thing my mom never wavered on, her faith and her commitment to keeping us rooted in the Word. But it wasn’t enough to shake my core truth. I believed in God, I believed I had a relationship with Him through Jesus Christ, but I also believed His promises were more relative to other people than me. The facts of my life seemed to point to one truth: that I wasn’t worthy of His love.

It wasn’t until my birthday weekend two years ago that I met the real Jesus through one of the most difficult events of my life. I learned that the father I grew up without had passed away, and I was invited to the funeral. My brother and I attended, and it felt very surreal. It was as if we were attending a stranger’s funeral watching others have an overwhelming emotional response to the loss. But, why didn’t I feel anything? Why was it so hard to hear from his family members that spoke at the funeral that he was the most kind, loving, and giving man? A person who loved the Lord and would give you the shirt off his back and would help anyone in a time need. But…he never loved me?

That week, in the middle of worship during a Wednesday night church service, I finally broke. In the midst of an onslaught of tears, snot, and ugly crying, I allowed myself to get angry with God for the first time. Why, God?? Why, if you are good, and loving, and beautiful, and powerful, why did you keep my relationship with my father away from me? Why couldn’t you make him love me? I grew up without a father, and it’s your fault.  

In that moment, an overwhelming sense of love, peace, and understanding washed over me as He showed me in a flash what my life would have been like if my father had been a part of it. I wouldn’t be married to the incredible man or have the amazing kids I have, and I wouldn’t be following God. I would have known a life of true despair, sorrow, and brokenness. Then in His loving and beautifully corrective way, He said to me, “I have been trying to be your Father all of these years, and you wouldn’t let me.” In that statement, I felt no condemnation, but I did feel loss. A loss of time I could have spent in full communion with Him. A loss of restoration and forgiveness I could have been walking through if I had only allowed Him to be the Father I’d always longed for. But that’s not the end of my story.

How has choosing a fully surrendered heart to God led you to be on-mission for His purposes?    

Today, I am the Next Steps pastor at my church, and my husband is the Outreach pastor.  Jesus didn’t just save me from something; He saved me for something!  God is an expediter of time, and He doesn’t waste anything. He didn’t waste my brokenness, my pain, my unbelief. He took all of those things and redeemed it into a beautiful testimony that every time I share with others, it brings greater and greater healing, forgiveness, and freedom. A freedom that reinforces my new core truth: That God’s goodness and His love are not dependent on my circumstances. He never promised a life free from pain, but He did promise to never leave us or forsake us. He promised to be a Father to the fatherless. And with a Father like that, I know my real identity is now rooted in love. His love.  A love that will never be dependent on my goodness.  A love that transcends and transforms everything. And that’s more than enough.   

Check out the link below to hear more from Priscilla’s heart!

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For more stories like this one, sign up below for our free weekly emails! Also, check out the book The Wholehearted Woman: Who She is and Why She Matters  by sisters and co-authors, Jenni Walker and Beth Doohan.  With heartfelt messages that will challenge your faith, stories of other Wholehearted Women, and reflection questions to dive deeper, this is a great resource for personal devotion or small group study.

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