This Is Who I Am | Corie Part 1

Note to Reader

This is a twelve month project which aims to bring to light the individual pain experienced by young women and to show how their unique stories make them who they are. We ask you to feel with an open heart and respect their stories.

I was born and raised in Jacksonville, FL, and I’m thirty-two years old. My childhood was good, really good. I had two great parents and my sister, Kate. My mom is super creative and made growing up just really fun. We didn’t have much, so I just remember Christmas morning she would be really creative with how she would present things to us with our gifts. We were always outside with friends in the neighborhood. My dad worked really hard for us to have what we could have. So yeah, it was a great childhood. My parents did divorce though when I was in middle school. I always knew growing up that the two of them together was a difficult marriage but we knew that they loved us very much. That was a challenge and that was hard for us as a family but to this day we are still close. I have one sister and then my dad recently remarried but they have been together for eleven years. So we’ve had my step-mom and my two step-sibling in our family for awhile.

I work in full-time retail ministry right now. I’ve been in retail since I graduated high school and all through college. I’ve managed different stores and learned how to run a retail business. So just in the last three years I’ve been able to transition that experience into ministry and help create a thrift store for our church and our community. It’s a place where people can come and experience a dignified retail setting and feel valued based on how we present the product in the store, the environment, the music, and just by loving on people when they come in. We also work with a lot of volunteers with a lot of different backgrounds, people who are homeless to people who are millionaires, and they come in and serve with us. It’s just a really neat environment and a melting pot of people. Whether it’s customers, volunteers, staff, it’s just a place where people can breakaway from the craziness of this world and be apart of a family environment.

I don’t think I dreamed as a child about being in retail but I always wanted to be apart of something that gave back to the community and helped people. Now just within the last six years, being in the retail environment, and me having an entrepreneurial type of mind and liking to create things out of nothing, six years ago I really wanted to open up my own store. I just didn’t know what that looked like and I didn’t want to do another boutique or something that’s been done. I wanted to create something that was, in my mind, beautiful. Because retail is a way for people to connect with each other, so through that experience of the last six years, God taught me how to use retail as a means to do ministry. Whether that’s connecting one on one with customers and building relationships with them, loving on your staff and developing them. And now where I’m at, being around volunteers and loving on them and pouring into them. So I wouldn’t say this is something I wanted to do as a child. I didn’t know that this was even a possibility. But I think the way God created me and through my experiences, led me to be doing what I’m doing now. So it is like a dream job, in my mind.

When I think about pain, I think about before Jesus in my marriage. My husband and I, we were believers but we had stepped away from the faith for awhile and came together in that brokenness. It was a season when we were young, when we started dating, and you know, it was fun, we did things out own way and were lord of our own lives. It worked for awhile but then when we finally got serious and said “I do”, shit hit the fan. It really did! Our first year of marriage was really hard and I had no idea how to be the wife that God calls me to be because in that season I didn’t have Jesus as a center. There was a lot of brokenness in that first year, job loss, loss of our home, bankruptcy, financial issues. I was in school at the time, and struggling trying to find the income needed to sustain and help, when there was job loss. And then there was an instance of infidelity that came out. There was just brokenness.

There was just brokenness.

That was a season without Jesus. I was lost and lonely and felt hopeless. For me that was probably my worst season of dealing with pain but yet God took me to a place of complete brokenness where I couldn’t fix my own issues, the problem, or our marriage. That fully brought me back to Him, to where I had to rely on Him to intervene and fix it, heal it, and restore it. The pain that we went through, it doesn’t define who we are, it’s not out identity, but that pain brought us to a relationship with Jesus. Back to where we needed to be and should’ve started, and through that, healing, forgiveness, and tons of restoration, where now Jesus is the center of our marriage and the center of our lives individually. There is just so much joy in our marriage. Now we’re going on ten years later and it’s better than what we could’ve thought of imagined compared to how we started.

All of those painful experiences came all at once. I felt alone. It was a dark season and I was always in my head overanalyzing things and “what did I do wrong?” I really tried to put the guilt on me and that I should’ve seen this coming and things like that. I was just alone and dealing with some depression, and always having this feeling of just being stuck. I knew I didn’t want a divorce or how my parents ended their relationship. I just vowed to that but I didn’t know how to fix the marriage we were in because it was awful, so I just felt stuck.

I just felt stuck.



To read part two of Corie's story, click here.