As I go through my life, each and every day, I constantly encounter ‘messengers’ and have learned that there are many paths to leaving an unapologetic legacy in a lifetime. These mentors share with me their stories of progress, offer prayers, suggest books to read, and offer words of encouragement. These connections go to the HEART of what matters to me. Here is a story about one of them, a special person, named Nancy~
Many moons ago, a ‘mom’ at my daughters elementary school, happened to strike up a conversation with me, she was the kindest person, and her house stands on the corner where the children cross to head over to Spring Garden School. For seven years, I would pass Nancy and she’d wave.I would always see her chatting with the crossing guard and the other moms as we hurried by with our children down the one-way lane to school. Every so often, if I wasn’t on the run, I had the pleasure of sharing life stories with her. She was always so insightful and so loving and really had a wealth of understanding. One day, as I was chatting, she mentioned to me that she had a ‘lending library’ on her front porch and she wanted to share two books with me. One is called: Balcony People by Joyce Landorf Heatherley and the other is Hung by the Tongue and I can’t quite place the author.
Nancy ran inside and grabbed the book for me and asked me to take some time to read it and pray about it, and learn from it, and to return it. I held onto it for months. (The book is paperback and was written in 1984) I read the book over and over – it’s only 70 pages. I devoured the book and began to align myself with this philosphy and noticed within the first few pages, ‘who’ were my Balcony People and ‘who’ were my Basement People. As you can imagine, the words stand for EXACTLY what they truly mean.
Balcony people cheer and are in the light, and Basement people leer and jeer and are in the dark. I began to want to immediately extract myself from Basement People, but also began to realize in my life where I had begun to exhibit that dreaded cellar personality, and contemplated, am I being a Basement person to anyone? That began the mission –
Uncovering the truth of our souls is often difficult. Change is not comfortable for most people and you can’t know that you are missing tools in your spiritual toolbox, until you know they aren’t there – you need to know that you need to change and you become AWARE that you something isn’t quite right. The next Action step will be to find the willingness and the courage to take a deeper dive and discover what your mindset is all about and where to get the help…..
As a mom, I took on the responsibility that I needed to learn this for myself, so that I could live this legacy for my own daughter. For as much as we like to think that our children listen to what we say, they really live what they see, and they model what we do, (and what we don’t do) versus what we tell them they should do. Hypocracy is the worst kind of teacher.
Being in the spotlight as a Sunday School teacher, a Pioneer Girls Leader and as a Girl Scout Leader, I knew I had been granted the gift of teaching and took the role model position quite to heart. I realized I had both the opportunity and the responsibility to share this idea with those little souls surrounding me, to teach them to mirror this character trait and pass it on to their families and friends. It is amazing how children keep us on course and remind us when we’ve gotten off of the road~
Many times along the way, I had to stop, take a closer look ‘inside’ and admit that I, too, was living once again in the basement, and I had to physically and emotionally, open up the metal ‘storm’ doors to MY basement and walk up a very treacherous flight of steps. Each step was cluttered with all the fear, anxiety, dissapointments, loss, despair, misunderstandings, misgivings, and turn of events that had caused in me a desire to head down into the dark, damp, moldy and mildewy place of refuge that somehow becomes so comfortable. I had to be careful, it is so easy to slip and fall back down. The climb up is hard – but what waits at the top, in the light of day, and it is so worth the challenge of picking your way through, pushing things aside and finding your way. It’s not fun down there in the dark, and it’s really, really, really, hard to ‘yell up’ as opposed to leaning over a balcony and shouting down.
The difference between the two is this:
Balcony People (as per Joyce Landorf Heatherley) are the kinda people who BELIEVE in YOU. It’s the person who leans way, way over your balcony railing: Waving their coat above their head, and yelling above the frightening noises of your world, “I love you! I believe in you and your abilities: You can do it! Keep at it. Keep on!
*The WISEST of BALCONY PEOPLE people know that God chose you before He made the world, and they KNOW that God is here beside you, they KNOW without doubt that: HE IS, HE WAS and HE ALWAYS WILL BE – He is right here, and He’s NOT SITTING DOWN!!!!!. You are His child, He is your Father. His coat is off too, and He is in the Balcony cheering you on with the others, together!” isn’t that a great vision?
Basement People are the exact opposite – Joyces teaches us that these people participate in the noisy pandemonium of the ‘evil’ side of this world, who explode all around us like cannon volleys. These types of souls are not capapble of hugging, they can’t rescue others and they don’t know what it means to be ‘safe.’ They hurry us through our life and frighten us. They live in the noise of cancer, divorce, the lethal poison of rejection, discouragement, depression, lonliness and other terrible unnamed scenarios. They pound loudly in our minds, our bodies and our souls, with their messages. Their personal wall paper is ripping off of the wall and they don’t sing God’s song- they are negative, they seek first to understand themselves before understanding you and most of all, they don’t offer you (or themselves) Grace.
The Healing antidote to all of this is Affirmation!
Balcony People affirm & respect human dignity and worth. It is said that when the bonding occurs between Christians – the process is utterly spectacular, because it is stronger, perhaps, than any other. It is a marvelous experience indeed! That is why believers gather amongst one another – it is life changing.
It is no secret that when others discern the good, the noble, the honorable and the just tenets of our character (no matter how miniscule they may be) and then tell us ‘HOW’ they admire those traits, WE FEEL VISIBLE! We begin to ‘SEE’ ourselves and own our self worth. We feel LOVED because we are nurtured and nourished. Oh what a life lesson to SEEK to be fertilizer and enrich and quench the thirst of others rather than act as emotional vampires who suck the life out of one another.
THAT is what Nancy offered me on her front porch when she handed me the booklet.
THAT is what I offer you in this blog today………………I am clapping for you right now from my heart……we can change the world with just one round of applause for another human being……………..
The constant judgment we pour on ourselves is not only from external sources, but from deep within ourselves and often that self-rejection is the severest kind of all. Finding genuine love for ourselves and affirming ourselves is tricky and what I have learned, quite rare.
To that end, we all need to deal with our own brokenness so we can unpack the Samsonite, stop lugging around the Steamer Trunk and MOVE out into the world, with maybe just a small purse and become AFFIRMERS.
So, I ask you?
……….are you living live from the Balcony?………or are you living in the Basement?
**For more information and to obtain a copy of the book: www.balconypublishing.com
or just call 1-800-777-7949
I have just learned that Joyce is 80 years old and not in good health,and she currently lives in Texas. The gentleman that I ordered the books from this morning told me she would love to hear of what this book has meant to me………and I plan on writing her a love letter this afternoon.