The Church That Helped Design Me

When I reference my unique design, I simply mean any part of my life up until about 18 years-old. Prior to that time, I didn’t have much control in my upbringing. I was born a female. I was born African-American. I was born with curly hair. I was born and raised in Buffalo, NY. Etc. This is a quick reflection about being raised in the church.

Elim Christian Fellowship of Buffalo, NY was the church that raised me. I remember my grandma, church greeter for almost two decades, would pick my brother and I up every Sunday morning. I would hear her car outside before she got to the house and before the sun cracked the sky. Since she was my ride home, I would stay for Both Services. If I went to sleep during service, I was sure to get a good poppin’ and would have to put extra money in the offering. Needless to say, I didn’t go to sleep often and I’m blessed to have a God-fearing Grandma <3.

I was heavily involved in my church up until I moved to Ohio for school. In many ways, Elim has clearly shaped me for my mission; Ways I will share in blogs to come. Aside from what I’ve done in the church, I realized during my visit home for Thanksgiving that two things were unconsciously shaping me my entire life.

1. Our Rally Cry

After almost every service, sort of like the benediction, we would say Acts 17:6. The Bishop would start by saying: “And these are they who came to turn the world..”, Then the congregation will join in saying: “Upside Down!”. So when you look at me in disbelief when I say: “I’m an Evangelical Civil Engineer” or “I’m trying to break cycles of poverty”, understand my church has been hyping me up for almost 20 years! 😉


2. Our Mission Statement

Nostalgia crept up on me as I was walking into the church a few weeks ago. I looked at the church van and read the beautiful logo I’ve seen so many times. It reads: ‘Equipping The Saints To Evangelize The Nations. Immediately my face contorted, I rapidly shook my head, and paced in a mini circle… I was having an Ugly Cry! A month prior, God told me that the last 25 years of my life uniquely equipped me for my purpose. A month prior, God called me to become a full-time evangelist (actual title I use). A month prior, God told me to work with Engineering Ministries International (and I’m currently preparing for my first missions trip to Zambia, Africa as a Civil Engineering Intern)!

I thank God for making Elim Christian Fellowship a part of my unique design! Thank you Elim!

This blog was very uplifting. However, most of my Unique Design blogs will highlight how my design should make it difficult for me to live out my purpose. The devil probably rejoices when I view my design (and the design of others) as a negative/failure/flaw/etc. My Ugly Cry reminds me daily that I’m designed in God’s image,1 for a purpose,2 and Jesus died so my past (or the past of my ancestors) no longer has the power to control me!3 And guess what… That applies to you too! Yeah you!

My Prayer (join me if you’ll like!)

“Father God, I thank you for fearfully and wonderfully making everyone in this world. I thank you for knowing and designing us all for a unique purpose. I know you didn’t mess up creating anyone or anything.4 God please fill my heart with the peace of your spirit and knowing that the sins of my past can no longer control me.5 I thank you for loving me sooo much that you sent your Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for my sins.6 I thank you for reminding me through Ugly Cries that Jesus’s pain was for a purpose. I thank you for reminding me that my pain has a purpose. I’m forever in awe of your unfailing love.7 Amen”

Thank you so much for reading and I hope you’ve enjoyed this blog! On Tuesday (12/20) I will post a special holiday blog titled Getting Through The Holidays Broke. Make sure you are following my blog so you don’t miss it! Follow me on social media @UCUnfiltered

With God’s Love,

Jamara Beard ❤

Bible References

1. [Genesis 1:27]
2. [Jeremiah 29:11]
3. [Romans 6:6]
4. [Psalm 139: 13-16]
5. [Romans 8:2]
6. [John 3:16]
7. [Psalm 13:5]

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 ❤