As always I’m beyond excited to bring to you another #HISDAUGHTERS interview! I can’t wait for you to meet our guest today, Chioma Oparadike. Chioma and I connected through a facebook blogging group we are both a part of. I really enjoyed getting to know her through this interview and I know you will too!
Chioma is a woman who is truly walking out the calling God has in her life. She is using her WHOLE self to glorify God. She is stepping outside of her comfort zone to use her life as a living testimony. Chioma is being used by God through her giftings and even her vulnerabilities. Take some time to read her story and connect with her today!
Tell us a little bit about yourself!
Hello, I’m Chioma Ijeoma Oparadike. Let’s just say I have a few more names but we’ll leave that for another day. I’m the middle child of three (we are usually called the forgotten ones – there’s an interesting theory about this) and also have a wonderful half-brother and a scrumptiously cute nephew.
I lost my Dad in January 2017, this was tough for my family but it was also a testament of God’s love and provision for his children. My Dad was truly my hero and with each day I get to not only understand but also appreciate his life and legacy.
In the recent past, I was a full-time corporate finance lawyer until I started my current platform to help and connect with more women.. I still do some legal work but not as much as before.
I will confess that I like a lot of things, which could be good or bad, right? For one thing, I’m a recovering foodie, I love to read and write and I also love to dance(even though I hardly get to do this).
I also love to try new things but I will be the first to tell you many of my experiments haven’t turned out so well – think photography, piano lessons, guitar, web design, mastering spreadsheets and painting. But, I’m still believing that I will get a hang of these.
When did you become a Christian? How did that shape your understanding of who you are?
I gave my life to Christ at 16, I remember I did this twice within a few months and at events by different churches. I had just finished high school and had been feeling listless. I guess that was the Lord’s doing. I just generally felt there had to be more to life. I had gone to church all my life but it hadn’t been because I knew God, it was just a case of what was expected of us.
That year, God revealed himself to me and within a few months, I saw a transformation in my life. I was no longer the sully teenager who was always frowning and thought the world owed her. I became a kinder and gentler me. It was such a wonderful experience. I remember my mum was so surprised by the change and still credits that time as a turning point in my life.
Have you ever struggled to believe what God says of you as a Christian? (if so, how have you handled that?)
Definitely! I will say that my Christian journey has been filled with moments of doubt. Moments where I felt things were just too hard, that God had left me and that I couldn’t possibly be good.
I have always been an independent spirit. You could say a lot of this was shaped by my childhood and my interactions with my environment. This made me a bit of a doubter and a cynic. So, when I heard words like by ‘his stripes we are healed’. I would consider this depending on how I felt. When I’m was really sick, it would be hard to believe this scripture but if I was only slightly unwell, I would be quick to pray this prayer.
There were many other moments where I would pick and choose which parts of God’s promises where applicable. For instance, it was difficult to truly fathom God’s love for me. Like how could he love me that much and that deep?!
As I’ve grown older and deeper in God, I have realized that I have to let go of assumptions, let go of trying to do things in my strength and pray for continuous and total reliance on a God whose plan for me is of good and to give me a future and a hope.
On your website, you speak a lot to single women. Would you say singleness poses any specific challenges to women as it relates to their identity?
Wow! I knew this question would come but now I’m wondering where to start. My journey in the land of “Singledom” didn’t start today. It actually started a long time ago, when I didn’t even understand it’s significance.
As a little girl, I was very mindful of gender roles and the disparities between the way men and women were treated and also the way single and married women were treated.
I come from a culture that not only values marriage but has put it on a very high pedestal where it trumps almost everything else. In a way, I believe God allowed me see these things and think deeply about them because he was preparing me for this ministry.
The truth is that many single women are ostracized and stereotyped. There is a constant belief that until they are married, they would never be complete. Which is such a lie and not scriptural.
Now the danger and challenges with this type of thinking is that it is not only external, it’s also internal. As you noted, it goes to the very place of identity. There are so many young women who are basing their worth and significance on marriage and not on the God who says we were created in his image and matter to him.
They are quick to believe Satan’s lies that a woman who is not married and does not have children has failed to fulfill her purpose.
But the truth is that as Christians, we only have one purpose, which is to use our lives to glorify God. Now, the mode and ways we do this will be different because we are all unique but it doesn’t change the principal objective.
I have written extensively on this subject and pray for the grace and wisdom to continue to write on it.
I believe God placed this burden on my heart and I believe it’s even more powerful because I’m also single and living through the issues and challenges. It’s my way of connecting and reminding ladies like me that we can thrive and enjoy singleness when we change our mindset and put our trust in God. It’s not easy but it’s always worth it.
How do you believe God has gifted you?
This is such a good question and not one I have never really thought about. Thank you.
When it comes to gifts, I am of the Philippians 4:13 brigade. I genuinely believe we can do all things through Christ. But I’ve also realized that this is quickly defeated when we let feelings of doubt and fear filter through.
I believe God gave me the gift of understanding, this probably flows from many years of deep thinking(well, some may call it daydreaming) and a better part of my teenage years spent (or lost) in books. Over time, I have realized that I’m able to see into people and situations and can give a fair idea of their issues without really knowing them.
I believe he gave me the gift to help and connect with people. But I will be the first to tell you I don’t do well with direct connections. I like connecting from a distance but it’s been so good allowing God break my defenses and letting my self be seen and be vulnerable.
I also believe I have a gift of communicating through writing and speaking(this is still dicey but the Holy spirit is in control). I haven’t always felt this way. I thought and, many times, still think I’m a bad writer. I love the English language but I’m not sure it loves me, well I know grammar doesn’t.
For any writer who feels this way, they will tell you that writing is a reminder of these failings but I thank God I haven’t let my inadequacies stop me from encouraging and inspiring others.
The final one I will mention is one I didn’t always think of as a gift but now that I have heard a lot of people define me that way, I have realized that God blessed me with it. It is my strength and independence. Writing about singleness as a single woman in my thirties requires a lot of courage and boldness, especially for a woman born and raised in a traditional African setting.
How did you discover those gifts?
Through my experiences and what others have said about me. If you had asked me this question a few years ago, I probably would have said something different. I never really thought about my gifts as a distinct thing.
For instance, I had often been told I was weird because, from a young age, I chose not to do certain things. It was a personal conviction, I guess. Even as young as seven, I had decided that I wouldn’t use curse words, I avoided lying and would rather not speak. As I grew older I decided that I would choose when and where I wanted to drink and that I wouldn’t have a boyfriend while in school. I guess this was where the strength and independence grew from.
But one thing I learnt the hard way was that when we choose to exercise those gifts outside of God or his will, we will suffer for it and it may lead to dire consequences. When I say we, I am speaking specifically to Christians. Once we give our lives to Christ there is a shift, it means we have made the choice for God which also means the devil will try his best to get us to fall.
For the gift of understanding, it came from not always treating people the way they treated me because I realized there was usually more to it. We are all different and many times, we are dealing with all sorts of issues. I remember during a difficult phase at home, I had to see beyond the actions of my parents and consider what they were going through even though they couldn’t voice their thoughts and feelings to us.
I also remember when I was in high school and had a big fight with a very good friend, during the course of the fight, words were exchanged, she disclosed some things I had told her in confidence.
The expected thing would have been to retaliate. I didn’t and the interesting thing is that this trait has followed me all my life.
I respect what has been told in confidence even when the other person doesn’t and try not to use it against the other person (this definitely helped as a lawyer).
Has it been easy to walk in the gifts God has given you?
I would be remiss to say it has been. With writing and speaking, it was always a constant struggle to step out and leave my safe and cozy shell.
I currently volunteer with a charity that works with victims of child trafficking and abuse and on one particular day I felt very strongly in my spirit that I had to share my story with them (past pains and mistakes), at that time we were talking about forgiveness.
I really struggled to do this and kept pushing it hoping that God will let me off the hook, you can imagine that he didn’t. But guess what?! The day I finally did, it was a breakthrough for me and the girls.
There were a whole lot of tears but I felt the weight of my past get lifted and I also felt closer to the girls.
God is truly wonderful and it has been such an instructive experience walking on this narrow but fulfilling Christian path.
I am really looking forward to all he has in store for me, I am certain that I may not like some of it but also, doubly sure, that he will only give me the best for me, to bring me closer to him and the woman he made me to be.
How can people find you if they’d like to connect with you?
Whoa! Those were deep and searching questions. I had definitely not considered many of those. Thank you, Karissa.
I can be found on most major social media channels. For Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest, it’s @chiomaoparadike and they can always connect with me (and I hope they do) on my blog www.chiomaoparadike.com.