Geraldine Ezeocha: Disciple. Nigerian. Chicagoan.
Geraldine "Gerri" Ezeocha is from a smaller southeastern state in Nigeria called Abia. But she has lived in Chicago for almost 12 years. I met her through Instagram a few years ago, and we met in real life on a water taxi to Chinatown soon after that. I am consistently struck by her bold and confident faith amidst trials I cannot relate to and am humbled she meets me in my own challenges.
My time with Gerri always causes me to reflect, assess, and to exclaim, "Amen!" Yes, her fierce beauty is a force to be reckoned with, but it is the way she lives out the Word that speaks volumes about her heart. We met in her neighborhood of Edgewater one early summer morning where she shared with me about growing up early, building a home away from home, and learning to see and receive the goodness of our Heavenly Father.
What brought you to Chicago?
Family. I think my parents had a plan/intention of moving the entire family to the US, but that didn’t really pan out how we imagined. In hindsight I see that it wasn’t God’s plan or design for our family at that time.
However, He did allow for me and my eldest brother Christian to move to the US. Chicago specifically for me because my dad lived and worked here. That is how that journey began. I love this city and consider myself a Chicagoan for sure.
What do you do for a living?
Currently I pay my bills as a chiropractic assistant and a photographer’s assistant. It’s been such a blessing working with the photographer especially. Her name is Shalimar. I learn and gain so much from both positions.
What has been most challenging living in Chicago with most of your family across the globe?
Sigh. there’s a lot that is continuously challenging. Relational and practical challenges. Missed weddings, births, unwitnessed life moments on their side and also my side. Challenges of having to figure out a lot of things and growing up sort of on my own because my parents weren’t physically present (they had moved back home). Recounting the struggles will require a book.
But I will say this—now knowing our Heavenly Father the way He has gracefully allowed me to—it was all for a purpose. I won’t trade it.
The Lord wouldn’t be my everything if he didn’t allow me to go through all I went through. I am eternally grateful that He did. He opened my eyes to many many things, all with Chicago in the backdrop :)
How do you find peace in the city?
I absolutely make time to be by myself with my Lord and quiet down. I have such an appreciation and draw to silence. The lake isn’t too far from me, so it is a free treasure I appreciate. My little studio, too, because I live alone. But honestly the Lord has truly blessed and taught me the ability to find peace and quiet even amidst chaos. For me this is done by focusing, stewarding and cultivating only things that truly matter. This continues to be a guide as I keep learning to simplify and to minimize.
What are you working towards?
Right now I’m working towards a career in Web Development. I recently finished school, so it is exciting to see what the Lord does and which doors he opens. Obviously every good thing that I do desire and pursue—discipleship, family, relationships, community, career in web development—are under the will of God. However He chooses to shape them, in that good will, I will gratefully accept. I love his surprises.
Placing your identity in Christ and not in your job title is radical thinking for a lot of people. What does it mean to you to know Jesus personally, to call him your Number 1 and Savior, and to acknowledge the call He’s put on your own life?
It is everything. It is the goal. The purpose. The destiny. Ultimately only kingdom things last.
So whatever occupation or position or responsibility I may occupy here on earth, it can never be in place of my savior. To think otherwise is foolishness.
The call He has put on my life, is the same for all his children: true worship and glory of his name. How this is manifested in our lives, only He knows; which is why we are called to be in relationship with him so we can be shown it.
How do you “take heart” amidst the daily trials, the mundane, and brokenness in our world?
Oh we HAVE to take heart in all circumstances—whenever and whatever form they come in. Ours is a living hope strictly because of the Lord Jesus Christ and who he is. This is the constant reminder, that no matter how I’m ‘feeling’ I have to drench my mind in truth and prayer. It is the only way to make it through in this fallen world.
He has stated succinctly in scripture, He is our rest, refuge, protection etc. So most of the time, the issue lies with us because we hesitate to believe and hold onto his Word.
So it is a spiritual discipline for me to grow in trust. The more I trust God the more ‘heart’ I will have. Of course this is never done perfectly,
but His grace is sufficient.
What have you been inspired by lately?
I think the gift of life is always an inspiration, but there have been a few things recently: godly simplicity and intentionality has been on my heart. I'm constantly chewing on what it looks like to reflect that gentle and quiet spirit that God loves and finds precious, in every single aspect of life. I’m just done being distracted with “stuff” both tangible and intangible that are unnecessary.
So with all these currently, the Holy Spirit is doing such work in my heart and life.
Would you mind sharing a verse that’s been speaking to you lately?
I chose this one, because I was so held by it that I wrote a code of it on the palm of my hand with a pen, so I could pray and memorize throughout the workday:
“ May the God of hope fill you with ALL joy and peace in BELIEVING, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may ABOUND in hope.” - Romans 15:13
Is there anything else you’d like readers to know about your personal journey and / or walk with Christ?
We’ve been given a gift of life for a purpose (God’s purpose) and at the same time, that same life is but a breath. So, while we are here Christ is all that matters, because once Jesus is all you have, you will quickly discover you don’t really need anything else. There is no longing, desire, want that He does not meet. Completely sufficient.
This understanding has helped me to have a growing heart to live faithfully while I am alive on Earth, and as I also anticipate eternity with the Lord of my life.