My Story | Vera Padilla

Before starting her Faithwalking journey, Vera felt stuck. It had been a year since her divorce, and she was still without a job. When she and her four children (ages 16, 14, 13, and 9) had to move in with her parents, she felt like a failure. God, where are you going to use me?

One day, Vera was wrestling with that question as part of her Faithwalking homework. “I was doing one of my spiritual workouts where I was really angry with God,” she reports. “And I was punching my punching bag really hard. And in between tears and yelling, [my son] was like, ‘Mom, are you ok?’” Seeing an opportunity to be honest with her son, Vera told him about her frustration with God for not providing a job. She had been praying hard, but…nothing. To her surprise, her son confessed that he had been praying too – that she wouldn’t get a job! “I need you at home,” he said. “I need some stability because of what I’m going through. I like coming home and you’re here.” Vera was blown away – God was answering his prayer!

“I could not see through my anger what God was actually doing for my children.”

In that moment of vulnerability and connection with her son, something broke open for Vera and she began to see God’s purpose for this season of unemployment – to disciple her children. The year following her divorce had been a time of personal healing, but her children were still struggling with the transition and needed extra love and support. Looking back, Vera can see that her vision was clouded by the intensity of her emotion. “I could not see through my anger what God was actually doing for my children,” she says. “God was really moving, and I just couldn’t see it until I started 201.”

For Vera, the personal transformation that she experienced in Faithwalking 201 was intricately linked with her ability to minister to her children. We all have patterned ways of interacting with different people in our lives, and Vera describes the pattern with her children this way: “Whenever I would get angry and anxious, my children would get anxious and we would play off each other. When they did something wrong I would scream and get mad and not show up the way I wanted to, and they’d close off and not want to talk to me.” Vera knew that she couldn’t give them the love they needed if they stayed stuck in this pattern. “I wanted to show up different with them,” she says. “Not this angry, hurt person.”

Equipped with a new level of self-awareness and a vision for change, Vera started setting aside one-on-one time with each child. She used the things she was learning in Faithwalking and began coaching them on their spiritual journeys. “Whenever something would go wrong or they’d come with an anxious moment, we’d just sit down and talk,” she says. “And some of the questions from 201 that I would ask myself, I would ask them. ‘Why are you upset? What’s the cause of it? What happened? Explain it to me.’” When they share their feelings and experiences, Vera tells them there’s nothing to be ashamed of. There are no wrong feelings, what matters is what we do with them. Vera reports that having those conversations and simply being present with them has “opened a lot of doors for them to start growing spiritually,” and has “changed our relationship completely.” They still experience anxiety, of course, but “they know that I’m not going to be the angry mom. I’m actually going to be the understanding mom that sees them as human beings.”

“Faithwalking has tremendously changed how I’ve shown up. I’ve really seen God move.”

The changes Vera has seen aren’t just impacting her own children, they’re reaching the youth at her church as well. Instead of telling the students what to think or do or say, she shares her own personal experiences and asks questions to draw them out. This new method of interacting is proving incredibly fruitful! By sharing vulnerably, she’s finding that kids feel safe with her and are opening up about difficult situations in a way they never have before. “Faithwalking has tremendously changed how I’ve shown up,” she says. “I’ve really seen God move.”

“I’m thrilled, because that’s what I’ve been wanting to do – be a reflection of God.”

Vera says that the Faithwalking process is different than anything else she’s been a part of, because studies she’s done in the past didn’t lead to practical application. “You come, you study, you talk about it, and it’s just all surface level…I’m getting Scripture and I’m getting fed, but I have no release of it. I don’t know what to do with it. I don’t know how to share it. And it’s uncomfortable when I do.” She says she loves Faithwalking because she doesn’t feel “spiritually fat.” Getting in touch with her own brokenness has provided a natural point of connection with those around her, so it’s easier to be authentic and share what she’s learning. And people have noticed the difference! Friends have told her that she’s “living a more authentic life,” and that they can see God in her more than ever before. “I’m thrilled,” she says, “because that’s what I’ve been wanting to do – be a reflection of God.”

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For Reflection:

  1. What about Vera’s story resonates with you?
  2. Can you identify any “ways of being” in your own life that create anxiety in certain relationships?
  3. Can you envision a different way of showing up?