A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of chatting with Pastor Cora Jakes Coleman to discuss all things faith, prayer, and becoming a ferocious warrior. Cora opens up about her life, trials and tribulations and how ferocious faith and prayer got her out of the most difficult times of her life. A true inspiration and woman of God, Cora now shares the tools for us all to dismantle the enemy, overcome obstacles and experience all God has for us in her latest book Ferocious Warrior.
Who is Pastor Cora Jakes Coleman?
I feel like when people get asked this question they respond with what they do and forget to answer the "who". So.. I believe that I am a compassionate person, a comedic person, someone who is brutally honest (chuckles), a very strong independent person. I am the type of person who would give you her last and just believe by faith that everything will turn out okay. I'm also a mom, I know that's who I am to the core of me. I believe that sometimes I can be more of a mom than I am a wife just because I love and adore motherhood so much.
How was it growing up in a religious household under the well known Bishop TD Jakes and phenomenal First Lady Serita Jakes where spirituality was the foundation? Did you feel pressure to uphold standards? or … Were you able to live and develop into yourself freely?
Well, I think the pressure came from outside of the church, from church people and society. The world has its own idea and perception of what a preachers kid is, and that's whether you're a mega-preachers kid or not. There are stigmas and statistics around preachers kids in general, so the pressure was definitely outside of the home. Thankfully, my mother was very intentional about making our home "OUR home". A place of peace and a place of safety, where you could be who you wanted to be, and there was no judgment, no fear, no condemnation in our house. We grew up knowing to choose wisdom, to walk with wisdom and knowing that every now and again we all will fall short of the glory of God, and that falling doesn't have to be who you become but can certainly be a lesson to help you grow and develop into the person you want to be. So my mother and father did an amazing job at making sure we got the chance to just be children, teenagers, and young adults. Now, as adults, we choose to carry out their legacy. It's been tasking + terrific.
What was wellness like growing up besides the spiritual wellness? Was there much focus on physical activity and eating well?
Eating well? ... Umm well, you have to define "well" (Cora laughs). We ate "veryyy well". I can't speak to the HEALTH! of our plates, but we definitely ate well. (Cora laughs and says light-heartedly).
I think that educational wellness was the second priority to my parents - that we had a great education and opportunity to a great education. They raised us to speak well, not because we were black but because we were their kids, and they wanted children who spoke well. They wanted us to be able to stand up for ourselves, be strong and relentless. That's something you now see in me and my sister Sarah, and in my brothers, though they are behind the scenes more than in front. We all have a great fight within us that my mother and father instilled. We had physical wellness and social wellness because there was so many of us (laughs). We have always been very close-knitted, very emotionally open and transparent with one another because we understand that if we can't find unconditional love outside of the house, or even inside of the church, we can always find unconditional love within our family. We've been able to stand strong on that value.
I love that, that's beautiful.
So PCOS/Infertility is something that a lot of women within the black community deal with. How was the experience being diagnosed for you mentally?
Um, it was devastating... it was traumatic. There again, is this stigma that society places on you whenever PCOS or infertility is mentioned. And it's the shame and embarrassment that they put around it, that somehow birthing qualifies you as a woman and as a mother. It's difficult for that stigma to be the qualification of what it means to be a mother or a good parent considering we've seen such proving otherwise. I mean we've seen birth mothers throw their babies in trash cans. We have seen birth fathers molest their children. Birthing and carrying a child doesn't make you a parent. So when I found out I had polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) I was absolutely devastated, absolutely depressed, and absolutely angry. I had to pull myself out of that by any means necessary. This is why I wrote my first book Faithing It, and even more so Ferocious Warrior after I won the battle and got my beautiful babies through adoption. I found even more tools and resources that got me through some of the darkest days and years of my life and I wanted to share that. That's what FW is all about. I did not let it break me, I let it build me.
Now I hear you say you had to pull yourself up out of depression by any means. What did pulling yourself up look like on a day to day basis?
Aw man... I wish I could tell you it was a 12-step program and that would be an easy way to explain it, but I truly had to embrace the unbearable pain of what I was going through. I had to stop running from it and really look myself in the mirror and tell myself hard truths of what I've been dealt with. My good doctor would say "Between now and dead what do you want your life to symbolize?". I didn't want my life to symbolize depression, I didn't want my life to symbolize pain and struggle. I wanted my life to symbolize the power that comes from that pain, the strength that comes from that struggle and the support you need to get out of it. Whether it was counseling or girls night out,
I wanted to make sure that I did not feed my depression what it was looking for so desperately which is isolation, negative thoughts, negative opinions, and people. I had to change the way I was seeing myself so that I could change the way I was feeling within myself.
In a previous interview, you also mentioned dealing with some form of sexual abuse. Our next digital mag will be focused on healing from trauma. The healing process is, of course, different for us all, so what was that process like for you?
It was very long and very vulnerable. I had to be extremely honest with myself about what was going on and what had happened to me. And it wasn't about trying to place the blame or pick someone to take the pain away, but just being very honest. I could not start the process of healing until I first acknowledged and embrace the... yes this is what happened to me ... the yes, I went through the pain and hurt. Again, going to a counselor and girls night out. It was about experiencing the truth versus the lies the enemy was trying to build around me. I got around people who would tell me the truth. I figured once I did that I could set myself free.
So we have this book Ferocious Warrior! What inspired you to write it? Why now? and What is a Ferocious Warrior?
Yessss!!! - A lot of things inspired it but one of the biggest things has been Charisma House Publishing, and specifically, Jason from Charisma who reached out to me and said he wanted to know what was on my heart and spirit as it pertains to whats going on in the world right now. And it had been pressed on my heart that we are living in a time where the fight is being suppressed, and the power that comes from our pain is being suppressed. We're being told to be quiet and silent, and I just got tired of the "under-the-rug" mentality. I got tired of the enemy using shame and embarrassment as a tool to keep us from being the best version of ourself. So when I told them that I wanted to kind of dismantle the devil's tactics and strategy my Aunt Jan of Dupree Miller and Associates, my literary agency said, "well you know you are a ferocious warrior " .. and Jason from Charisma said, "that's the name the book!". So I said okay...the people have deemed me as a Ferocious Warrior. (and so it was written).
And I believe it's because the people have been introduced to me through my strongest weapon which is prayer. For a long time, people knew Sarah, knew who she was, seen her on tv and was very familiar with her. But when my dad decided that he wanted me to open up at Woman Thou Art Loosed... I did that prayer and people were like "Oh my goodness, who is she, where has she been!" My prayers have always been very ferocious, very intentional, very faith-filled. I wanted people to understand that if you see me as ferocious, I am only as ferocious as the faith I choose to attach myself to and you can be just as ferocious. There's a Ferocious Warrior inside all of us. Once we realize it and begin to rise, the enemy will begin to be defeated. I'm ready for warriors to rise, and for us to just shut the enemy down. It's our time, it's our season to get what God has for us and Ferocious Warrior is going to help that be accomplished.
Yes! I absolutely love that! I actually grew up in a spiritual household as well, and my mother would always say this is a spiritual warfare that we're fighting. What tools can people apply to their lives to help them fight the enemy, eliminate distractions, and live in their truth and purpose?
Well, I think one of the biggest things that limits us from living in our purpose is fear. One of the greatest things we can do to eliminate fear is to increase our faith, and the way to increase our faith is through the reading of the word of God. To begin to consume and understand the word of God. Then we're able to use it as a weapon against depression, against anxiety, against those fears… until we see that God has not given us the spirit of fear - but power! Once we acknowledge that we have been given POWER then we can tread and trample all over the enemy. So worship is our weapon, praise is our weapon, prayer is a weapon, fasting is a weapon. The word of God and understanding of the word of God is a weapon. Millennials... it's our time now. We got so used to hearing next, that we didn't prepare for the "NOW". So we have to stop being conditioned for next, and start preparing and understanding that we are a NOW generation! Things have to start rising now, armies have to start rising now, prophets have to stat rising now. This is the generation that's going to do it.
I believe that one-hundred percent. There's a lot of us in this generation who struggle with consistency, being specific in prayer, and building an authentic relationship with God. What advice can you give to help others commit to discipline and routine? Where should they begin?
The first thing is… we think consistency means every day at a specific time of day. But really, when I speak about consistency I'm talking about getting into a pattern with God. So if that for you is 2x a week, let that be your pattern. If it's every other day let that be your pattern. Do not let consistency be your excuse for why you will not get into a pattern with God! So that's one tip - to really change the way you view consistency and put it as a pattern. I tell my husband I love him every day because that's our relationship pattern. You have to build a relationship pattern with God.
Now specificity... you want to make sure it comes from an honest place. I think our grandmas, and great aunties and em' told us so much that we couldn't do with God that we pushed our selves out of having real conversations with God. It was always you cant do this, you can't do that... so you feel like well I'm just not gonna talk to God because there are so many restrictions... but there really isn't. You can tell God exactly what is on your heart. You can simply say "I don't know what to say, I don't know what I'm doing, I need your help, help me be more specific." So again, it goes back to getting into that pattern with God and being completely open and vulnerable with God in such a way, so God can impart into you and you'll begin to have that authentic and genuine relationship.
Yes… You just dropped a word! (Cora laughs)
So what can we look forward to within this book and what can we look forward to with you this year?
If you read Faithing It, I ended each chapter with a prayer. It was me praying for the readier. In Ferocious Warrior I ended each chapter with a prayer, BUT this time I made it so the reader is praying for themselves. So some of the things to look forward to are those chains being broken off of you, some of the things you don't have the words to speak but know your generational bloodline needs is in that book. Look forward to blessings coming into your life, look forward to finding yourself more connected to God. Look forward to your faith being ignited. Look forward to God doing a miracle for you just because you decided that you don't only want to have a relationship, but because you want to be a ferocious warrior. And not a lot of people are not ready to take on that fight and do it wholeheartedly, but if you grab the book it's your season to do so. So I'd say look forward to the ferocious warrior that you're going to be.
I'm going to be doing a lot of podcasts, and a follow-up book to Ferocious Warrior. Wherever I'm traveling I'll be promoting Ferocious Warrior, so I'm just gonna’ be ferociously touring (chuckles). Letting everyone know the devil is a dummy (#thedevilisadummy) ... and warriors are rising.
Lastly but not least… What does being Black + Well mean to you?
Oh wow, well that's an open-ended question (Cora laughs) ... I believe it is about embracing your flaws and the beauty that is you. It is about accepting a wholeness that may have some narrow ways, that may have some dents…and just walking in the truth of who you are emotionally, mentally, physically, and most importantly spiritually in such a way that it inspires others. Your black is well when you are walking in a way that your life can inspire someone else.