Breaking the Normal Life Mentality

I naturally abandoned my normal life mentality when I realized my WOW Factor created opportunities to be used by God.

Blog Sub-Category: Breaking Cycles & Comfort Zones
Part 2 of My Struggle to Life-Work Balance Series
5 minute read

Growing up, I dreamed of having a normal life. I wanted a regular job, a regular family, and live a comfortable life. One of the reasons I chose to study engineering was because I knew a four-year degree would be a sufficient amount of schooling to stay on track to this comfortable lifestyle. Little did I know, deciding to become an engineer was the first step down an irregular path.

Shortly after I began college, I realized I had a WOW Factor. I would introduce myself to someone and they’ll go ‘WOW, you’re an engineer!?’ or ‘WOW, you just moved to a new state without knowing anyone!?’ or ‘WOW, you went through THAT and still have joy!?’. In other words, it’s when people applaud me for doing something out of the ordinary. However, it’s easy to get distracted by the applauds of people (and my own low expectations) and forget I’m living to please God. I can’t just sit around comfortable abusing my WOW Factor. When I realized my WOW Factor created opportunities to be used by God, I naturally abandoned my normal life mentality.

High School-To-College-To-Industry-To-40YearsOfWork-To-Retirement Pipeline

I’ll just refer to this as the Normal Life Pipeline. As an African-American student leader, the School-To-Prison (S2P) Pipeline was the only pipeline I was concerned about avoiding. However, the fear of entering the S2P pipeline (and/or reinforcing the negative statistics) scared me into thinking the Normal Life Pipeline was #goals. Now don’t get me wrong, I recognize and I’m thankful for, Affirmation Action systems that help keep the youth out of jail and off the streets. We actually need more of these programs, but they are not sufficient alone to achieve holistic Life-Work balance. Affirmative Action systems highlight what a successful life could look like for me and typically promote the Normal Life Pipeline to get there.

After a ton of trips, falls, and detours along this ideal path, I realized I was happy living life my own way and at my own pace. I spent 3 years in community college. I spent an extra year completing my bachelor’s degree so I could co-op. I also took a 15-month break from engineering after college. Now I’m going into full-time ministry, prepared to live the rest of my life in purpose, and concerned about the legacy I will leave. I call this my WOW Factor-To-WOW Factor Pipeline. #Goals

Office Day Job

I used to LOVE working in an office. Normal office jobs made me feel important and like my life was in order. They aligned with the idea that I needed to compartmentalize my life. My home, mind, spirit, relationships, etc. could all be a hot mess; but when I put on my suit, heels, and go to work, I suddenly have my life together. This past year, I kept my hair short, wore little to no make-up or jewelry for this very reason. I knew I was preparing for an important engineering career that would require me to look the part. Now I desire to feel the part, before looking the part.

Work 8 Hours a Day, 40 Hours a Week

Structured, full-time work is as normal as it gets in this society. I began to think outside the box in this area when I started brainstorming work I could do from home while raising kids. When I first moved to LA, I lived with entrepreneurs who also had a networking marketing business. This helped me redefined my idea of job security by understanding the benefits of having multiple streams of passive and residual income.

Love, Marriage, Kids

WHERE?? lol

When I was younger, I thought I was going to start having my 5+ kids at age 22! hahahahaha I had to learn that I couldn’t build a family until I built myself! I’m grateful for my desire to start a family young because it pushed me to find my purpose young. Now that I’ve got it, I’m willing to wait on my purposeful family that will add more WOWs to my WOW Factor life.

God has given me so much peace and confidence about my mission that discomfort feels comfortable and abnormal feels normal. My WOW Factor allows my extraordinary God to use me in extraordinary ways. Everyone reading this has a WOW Factor. I encourage you to identify it and stop thinking you have to live a normal life! Let me know what your WOW Factor is and how you are NOT abusing it. Send me an email, leave a comment, or take the conversation to social media (Twitter or IG) with #UCWOWFactor and tag me @UCUnfiltered!

My Prayer

“Father, I know you are a WOW God and nothing normal is about you. Thank you for wanting to do extraordinary things through me on Earth. After you created the heaven and earth, you probably thought WOW.1 After you thought of every person, you probably said WOW.2 Give me the wisdom and confidence to use my WOW factor for your glory. I pray that you reveal each person’s WOW factor and they have the strength to live outside of normal. I’m forever in awe of your power. Amen.”

Thanks for reading my blog! Next, I’ll be discussing how I broke the mentality of what work looks like.

Special thanks to Blog Review Crew member: Meredith Kaltenecker, blog editor

With God’s Love,
Jamara Beard ❤

Bible References

1. [Genesis: 2:1-2]
2. [Jeremiah 29:11]

Why I Ugly Cry

*Now, I know this is kind of lengthy; but considering that my blog is called Ugly Cry Unfiltered I believe it’s justified ^_^.

My Ugly Cry:

“Is the result of an emotional equilibrium balancing pain and joy. I remember my past experiences while simultaneously knowing that they equipped me for a greater purpose still to come.”

If you would’ve looked at my life in January of 2015, you probably would’ve said I was on the path to, what society deems as, ‘success’. I was a 24-year-old black Christian female from Buffalo, NY. I was getting ready to graduate with my bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and become a regional leader for a national engineering organization. I was considering a full-time position at a nuclear power plant with the title: Nuclear Engineer II. I was considering attending graduate school for my MBA or structural engineering. It looked like all my dreams were coming true and I was about to live ‘the good life’. A life many people from my background don’t even imagine living. Right out of college I was going to have a great job, do meaningful work, have status, and more money than I had ideas to do with it. Everyone would classify me as a good role model and positive statistic just based on my resume. I should’ve been happy. I should’ve at least been content. Someone is reading this confused why I’m implying I wasn’t.

While everything looked great on my surface, I was dying on the inside. I began to realize that during the last several years, I struggled through two separate battles. One battle was to get the education to qualify for a ‘successful’ life. However, I want to discuss my personal battle. The battle to be me. This battle was harder and resulted in many more failures. This battle challenged my morals, character, integrity, fears, hopes, dreams, insecurities, strengths, weaknesses, etc., like never before. Two years ago I began to realize two things about these struggles that ultimately moved me to act.

  1. If I was going to truly be happy in life, my personal battle had to be more important to me than my professional battle.
  2. Secondly, there was almost a direct correlation between both battles. The more I won professionally, the more I struggled personally.

The path to ‘success’ I was on would have led to money, power, status and held my soul for ransom. The world reminds me daily that being black, even with my education, may get me killed. The world reminds me daily that because I’m a woman, even with my education, I still may not receive the value and respect a man does. The world reminds me daily that because I needed and benefited from affirmative action, I better focus on winning my professional battle. The world reminds me daily that my Godly heart may hinder my ascension up the corporate ladder. I realized that I was going to always struggle to personally succeed if I really wanted to diversify and unite the world through corporate America. I began to question everything I was told, thought I knew and thought I wanted in life.

  • Why do I have to sacrifice my personal success to excel professionally?
  • Do I have to compartmentalize my life?
  • If I choose to honor God with the money I make, does it matter if I honor God while making the money?
  • As an entry level professional, do I really have to settle for any job I can get?
  • What if I’m challenged on my job to do something God wouldn’t be pleased with?

God revealed a lot of these answers to me the summer after I graduated. My desire to fully understand what my purpose in life prior to entering the work field was so strong, that I intentionally positioned myself to receive, understand and walk in my purpose. I disconnected from my norm and began to seek God through teachings and situations that would force me to grow. This looked like: relocating to Los Angeles, finding flexible employment, praying for transformation through every sermon/encounter with God, etc. While in LA, I asked questions I never knew I needed answers to.

  • What am I passionate about?
  • What does success mean to me?
  • Why am I the way that I am?
  • What is my purpose in life?
  • Is Engineering Ministries International’s (EMI) mission my mission?

Believe it or not, God answered all these questions and a lot more. I’ll be interning for EMI as a Civil Engineer in their Colorado Springs, CO office starting January, 2017. To support my missional work click here. I’ll spend 2-weeks during the internship in Zambia, Southern Africa. God also gave me my own specific purpose and mission in life. A mission I’m uniquely designed and qualified for. A mission to help end cycles of poverty through service, empowerment, embracement, and exposure while armed with God’s love and wisdom. God revealed all this while at the 2016 EMI conference through a series of ugly cries. No seriously, my face was scary and tears soaked my face at times. My ugly cry is the result of an emotional equilibrium in my body. I remember my past experiences while simultaneously knowing that they equipped me for a greater purpose still to come. I was ugly crying so hard, that the tears looked like stripes on my face. While admiring my ugliness, God reminded me that ‘By His stripes, we are healed’ (Isaiah 53:5). Jesus’ death is a happy ugly cry effect! Jesus didn’t die for Himself, He died for our sins. However, we can rejoice because we are no longer slaves to sin! Thank you Jesus! God promised to give me strength and confidence to live out my mission every day. My Ugly Cry bracelet (which is intentionally brown like my skin) reminds me of that promise and I wear it every day.

So I am here, Ugly Crying with confidence each day as I live out the many promises of God. I invite you to explore my website and join my mission to help end cycles of poverty while armed with God’s love and wisdom.

With God’s Love,

Jamara Beard ❤