Carla Pratico boasts an impressive resume. A former Virginia Tech Woman of the Year and member of several honours societies, Carla’s first job out of college was working for an executive leadership consultant in New York City. However along with the fast paced career, came a life of drinking and partying, which seemed fun in the moment, but left her feeling empty and broken.
“I’ve always had that kind of world-changer personality type growing up, but I would say it was certainly misappropriated in my old pre-Jesus life to get personal gain,” she said. “I would try to fill wounds that only Jesus can heal with accomplishments and accolades.
“But on this side of the cross, I like to call it a holy ambition. What I originally was using maybe for evil is now being turned to serve and build His Kingdom.” Carla thinks all of us have a Kingdom Builder in us, but that’s one of the things the enemy loves to steal, kill and destroy from people, she said.
Today, Carla is the founder of She Roars, which is a community of contagiously fearless women she equips to build their businesses, ministries, and lives with God through training, mentorship, and gatherings.
Every year, Carla – and a handful of other gifted speakers and preachers come together at the She Roars Conference to give attendees the tools and encouragement they need to get their God-given visions off the ground.
“I just love seeing those dreams come alive in people,” she said. “I love seeing them create like the Creator. All of us are creators – be it with spreadsheets or a paintbrush. My best friend, for instance, is a super powerful business executive with hundreds of employees working under her. She’s creative with strategy. Everybody has some way that they build with God. It’s just a matter of finding what that thing is, and giving them the boost they need to go for it.”
FINDING GOD IN A BAR
Carla went to church on occasion growing up and also remembers attending bible camp, however, none of it really stuck. After college, she went “full on into the world”; then after moving to New York City as a young adult found herself immersed in the local club scene. “I was enjoying dating really rich men, experiencing the nightlife and going to really extravagant places. I was really good at that life. The thing is when you’re in the world, you don’t have a conviction of sin, you’re just a really good sinner.”
But one night that all changed.
It was her 23rd Birthday and she invited some of her ‘nighttime friends’ to come out and celebrate. Problem is only one person showed up – and that person had to leave early, so Carla wound up ringing in the occasion with a random guy in a bar. During their conversation, Carla heard a voice say: ’This is not your life’. “I didn’t actually know it was the Lord at the time, I just heard a voice and I knew it wasn’t mine,” she said. “I immediately put my drink down, walked out of the bar and got into a cab.”
Then the wildest thing happened – Carla found herself in a taxi with a couple who started a conversation about the Lord. “The driver was picking his wife up from work, and I had just drunkenly stumbled into their cab, which was actually off duty,” she said. “They agreed to take me home and as we’re about to pull off, I heard the woman say something along the lines of ‘Doesn’t God know it’. I heard that sentence and suddenly it clicked – that was the voice I heard – God. I stuck my head up to the little partition window in the cab and I said, ‘Do you believe in God?’ So they started sharing the gospel with me and I immediately start repenting. Carla describes that night as a “radical invitation” from the Lord to come into right relationship with Him. She knew immediately she didn’t have to earn His love or get clean before getting to know God. “He came right into my mess, and just invaded and ripped me right out of it,” she said. “Romans 6 is a fascinating book for me to read now, because I feel like I lived Romans 6 before I had ever read it or valued it as Truth in scripture.”
“It talks about being co-crucified, co-buried, and co-resurrected with Christ into a new life and union with Him. And truly, this was a day and night shift for me. There was about a month where I had questions and got some things cleared out with God, but after that I was ready to go.”
MOVING FROM DARKNESS TO LIGHT
A week after that moment in the bar, Carla found a church in the East Village to attend. The first time she visited it felt as though the pastor was speaking directly to her, with his message answering many of the questions she still had about God and religion. A few weeks later, the pastor laid hands on her and she remembers being filled with the Holy Spirit. “That was truly a line in the sand for me,” she said. “After that, there was no doubt in God. I have not one time doubted the existence, reality and truth of who God is since I got Spirit-filled. After that, I never walked back to my old life at all. I threw all my party clothes out and threw out a bunch of self help books. It was like I had moved from total darkness to light. From that moment on I didn’t touch another sip of alcohol. I stopped dating around and I stopped cursing. I didn’t have anger in me anymore.”
Carla said if she knew being a Christian was so fun, she would have committed her life a lot earlier. “I’m almost annoyed that nobody let me in on this is what life with God is like, seriously,” she said. “What I’ve learnt through all the encounters I’ve had with God and seeing how He serves and loves me, it makes it easy to want to serve and love other people. They say you become like the one you spend the most time with and Christ was the greatest servant of all.”
GOING FOR HER DREAMS
While she’s accomplished a lot in the last ten years, Carla admits there were challenges along the way as well. One of the biggest was digging up the lies she believed from her old life and replacing that with the truth of God. “In my childhood, I had a rough kind of go with friends,” she said. “I remember vividly getting hate notes from a group of girls at school and fast forward that turned into a lot of insecurities about stepping into mentoring and leadership roles with women.”
“How convenient that was the area I was attacked in most, right? My home life was great. I didn’t have any big traumas as a young kid. But the lane I was called to, is the exact place I had a lot of stuff happen that knocked my confidence.”
When Carla started to take on those roles supporting women, it definitely dug up a lot of issues and feelings from her past. She had to work through those and say to God: ‘I want to dig through whatever mindsets or lies that I believe that are going to hinder me from going for it’.
Today, she teaches women this exact thing – how to uncover the places where they don’t agree with God. “That’s really the goal in life. If we can just agree with God – about what He says about us and how we should think and act- then the rest will fall into place,” she said.
For more information, visit carlapratico.com or follow her on Instagram: @CarlaPratico.