Oh, the days of cheerleading.
Peer pressure at its’ peak.
Mine peaked in Middle School as we know it now. In my school days, (when we had to walk a mile in the snow to school) we attended “Junior High”, which included sixth thru’ ninth grades.
Seemingly every girl in eighth or ninth grade tried out for cheerleading.
Clueless, I signed up.
What, pray tell, had I gotten myself into? We had to attend several practice clinics. Quickly, try-outs were upon us.
Bad-n-sad memories of not making it in eighth grade surface. Oh, but then came ninth grade and by some miracle, I made it. You haven’t “made it” ‘til you make the cheerleading squad. Or, at least that’s what appeared to be true.
Shallow, naïve, junior-higher that I was, our new cheerleading squad became my new friends. Dumping my old friends for girls I didn’t even know was my “M.O.” Horrors.
We quickly learned new cheers, cheering for football and basketball games. Humorous given I had no knowledge of sports, much less which cheer to do, etc. Follower…Very insecure follower.
So, had I known of the concept we’ll discuss today, that of “Balcony People”, I’d have told you my tally was a big, round, fat zero. Oh, but wait ‘til you see how many we have!!! Hang with me…
One of my favorite gifts I received for Christmas this past year, a must-read, is Balcony People by Joyce Landorf Heatherley. Joyce has the gift of opening your eyes to people in your life. She talks about people with the gift of affirmation: Those who go around affirming others, not dragging them down.
Those dragging you down are known as “evaluators”, also known as “basement people”. Know any of these? Making a mental list?
“Basement people” spew snide remarks such as, “you’ll never make it…you can’t do that…”, inflicting judgment, damage, and unnecessary critiques. Note the lower location of this moniker. (!!!)
One woman wrote to Joyce and asked, “Please keep reminding us how much God loves us. We need that love, not the constant judgment we pour on ourselves.”
We got a large dose of judgment last week (check out “When Grace Rescues You From Judgment”), so this week we’ll discover “Balcony People”.
Joyce asks, “Who is the special affirmer who catches quick glimpses of the flames from the fires of your potential and tells you so? Who, by his or her words, helps you to respect and believe in your own value as a person?” We can dub these sweet souls our personal cheerleaders.
Joyce douses any doubt you may have should you think you don’t have any affirmers. She said, “I have known only a few genuine affirmers, but one affirmer is worth a thousand evaluators.”
She adds, “The need for affirming one another is crucial to our process of becoming real, not phony or hypocritical, people of God. Affirming brings authenticity and credibility to our faith as it is lived day by day…Otherwise, we miss one of the main concepts of the Holy Scriptures—to love one another and to bear one another’s burdens.”
These affirmers, or “Balcony People”, “practically hang over the rail, cheering us on. As you begin to think of who in your life may be in your balcony, you’ll find it fun to discover these people do not have to be alive.” Do you love that?
One of Joyce’s friends shared his list of Balcony People: Number One: The Lord (think about THAT!!!), Paul the Apostle, and David the Psalmist, for starters. Joyce added Peter the Apostle as well as her Mother who had also gone Heavenward to her list.
One aspect I love from Joyce is she includes her children on her list. I’d like to think our boys are in my balcony. That completely warms my heart. You?
I have to say my biggest cheerleader/balcony person is my husband, John. Love is blind comes to mind, God bless him. (Kidding. Sorta.) Amazing grace.
Jumping backwards to Middle School or Junior High, I can tell you I was not in my Mother’s balcony. I gave her enough trouble to bond with her “basement people” for years. Awful. By the same token if you have middle schoolers right now, never fear, for they will mature to cheer you on later. Pray hard.
Joyce gives us one of my all-time favorite verses: Hebrews 12:1 “telling us to run with patience (and perseverance) the race that’s set before us ‘since we have such a huge crowd of men of faith watching us from the grandstands’”.
With that in mind, here’s the kicker to this whole concept of “Balcony People”…
Joyce admits, “Listing the people who were in my balcony, I concluded, was only half of what should be written. So I got out another sheet of paper and put down all the names of people to whom I’d be a “balcony person.” She continues, “It was time to concentrate on my balcony people and on being a balcony person to others.” Whoa. That turns the tables a tad, huh?
Joyce teaches us to look for and cultivate the following three traits of a “Balcony Person”:
1 – “They Love.”
2 – “They Listen.”
3 – “They Care from the Heart.”
Joyce directs us to the entire sixteenth chapter of Romans where Paul is cheering numerous people onward. Joyce calls it the “Biblical ‘balcony person’ passage.” She says her “favorite balcony motto from Paul is ‘whatever you do, do it with kindness and love.’” (I Corinthians 16:14)
When Jesus was juggling the disciples’ arguments over who was the greatest among them in Luke 9, He gave them the formula, as Joyce calls it, “for being the best man: Your care for others is the measure of your greatness.”
In closing, Joyce shares a memory of her grandson being very fearful of an unknown noise: A big garbage truck screeched to a halt in front of their house. Joyce said, “James looked up to her yelling, ‘Hug! Hug!’ And the look on his face screamed, ‘Hurry! Hurry!’” She added, “I remember reaching down for him and wallpapering his little body to my chest.” Precious…
From that experience, she paralleled the noisy “pandemonium of this evil world making us desperate to be:
We are shouting through our panic, ‘Hurry! Hurry!’”
Then she poses, “What is the frightening noise in your life?…
Is it the noise of:
Whatever is pounding loudly in your mind, your body, or your soul,
LET ME BE YOUR BALCONY PERSON.
LET ME HUG YOU WITH MY WORDS.
LET ME WALLPAPER YOUR SOUL TO MINE.”
Joyce reminds us of the Apostle Paul’s words: “Long ago, even before He made the world, God chose us to be His very own.” (Check out the whole passage: Ephesians 1:4-14)
Joyce further encourages: “You and I are His children. I believe in you. I’m leaning way, way over your balcony railing; I’m waving my coat above my head, and I’m yelling above the frightening noises of your world, You can do it! Keep at it! Keep on! God’s here beside me; yes that’s right, He’s here, and He’s not sitting down. YOU are His child, He is YOUR Father. and we are BOTH in your balcony cheering YOU on together!”
I pray this concept of Balcony People has encouraged you…
Who’s in your balcony?
Whose balcony are you in?
May God guide us all to be more attentive to those whose paths we cross.
‘Til next time!
(This post is dedicated to Kristen Sauder. She went to be with Jesus on Wednesday, January 22nd. She was a balcony person to countless souls. She pressed on and I know she is now cheering us on side-by-side with our Lord. If you’d like encouraging words to endure our brief time on this earth, I have two websites for you.
Bob Rusell preached the eulogy at Kristen’s funeral. An excerpt of it can be read from his blog entry from January 26th. Go to: www.bobrussell.org
Kyle Idleman preached on “How to Make a Difference” in the “It’s Not Too Late” series, also this past Sunday, January 26th. He showed a clip of Kristen filmed just a few weeks before she died. She’s encouraging all of us to make the most of our time left. Go to: www.southeastchristian.org and go to “sermons”, then click on the one from 1/25-26. Grab some Kleenex before you do….)