Meet Charlotte: Balcony woman—shifting from doing to being.
“I’ve always had a glass-half full perspective, the sun is going to rise attitude and it’s going to be okay outlook!” says Charlotte. It’s something God bestowed upon me from birth because he knew I would need it.
Meeting Charlotte for the first time you would think that being a balcony woman (someone who genuinely wants to see you succeed and is excited when good things happen to you) comes naturally to her and it certainly does. But today, she is a balcony woman after God’s own heart instead of her own. She lives with a newfound freedom-knowing whose and who she is.
Like many balcony women Charlotte is type A, solid enneagram two with a masters in multi-tasking. In her thirties, she was balancing life as a wife, happy mother of three and what the world would describe as a good Christian when a valley in her life sent her world upside down. In hindsight, Charlotte can now see that God put her flat on her back to look up. But in those moments of being down, as difficult as they were, some wonderful things were revealed to Charlotte. She feels that now she’s an even better balcony woman today than she could have ever dreamed of being before.
Charlotte learned her set back was God’s set up to find grit, grace and growth.
First, she learned depths of grit she didn’t know were possible. She dug deep and never gave up, a quality her parents modeled for her from a young age. Charlotte would say that fear does some crazy stuff to you, but fear doesn’t have to have the last word. Charlotte’s mentor and fellow balcony woman, Shirley Staires, taught her that FEAR has two options: Forget Everything And Run or Face Everything And Rise. And rise she did. Sometimes it just takes a balcony woman to remind you to rise and become a better version of yourself. Charlotte’s friends Shae and Deanna are two such balcony women. Charlotte recalled a time when they showed up at her home and said, “We don’t know what you need today, but we love you.” As they saw a pile of laundry, they said, “why don’t we match socks?” And so, they did. And to this day, it’s a moment that has stood out for Charlotte. “A balcony woman will just come. They don’t have to say anything. Sometimes the best advice anyone ever gave me was a hug,” says Charlotte.
Second, she discovered a lot of grace. Not only from our heavenly Father, but for herself. Through counseling and the love of family and friends, she left behind a life of control and performance and embraced freedom. “We didn’t know it at the time, but we were performing as a fake family. I thought we would be seen as better Christians if we did everything “right.” Things can feel good when you’re revered as a “good Christian.” Yet, the answer all along was the freedom found in just being with Christ and not “doing” the checklists many feel we need to “be right.” Charlotte knows she’s no longer hand-cuffed to a pressure-filled life of obligations she thought were non-negotiable. “I now know we are here to be errand runners for Jesus. We just have to be open to what He may have in mind for us on any given day,” says Charlotte. Walking in step with the Father’s will for her life shifted her focus from self to others, allowing her to be a balcony woman to complete strangers and friends alike. “It might sound silly, but the little things are the big things,” she shares “…like being kind to check-out people, waiters and homeless people at intersections. I can ask someone their name, pause, put down my phone and really see someone.” Stopping to engage and encourage is a simple way to be a balcony woman,” says Charlotte.
Finally, Charlotte found growth. Thanks to her mentor Shirley, she even made a mission statement for herself. To abide in him, brighten where dim, enlighten in love, family, others and friends. This mission statement is the litmus test for Charlotte’s priorities now.
“I went from doing to being. God gently showed me how to stop striving to “do” Christian life and to simply abide with him. In my earlier years, I didn’t allow enough bandwidth to be able to do what God wanted me to do. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I had a need to be approved and esteemed by other people. Now, I know how to eliminate what doesn’t need to be spinning and make room for the infinite possibilities God has in store for me if I only abide in him.”
One such possibility presented itself in the form of a podcast. During the covid pandemic Charlotte felt a stirring in her heart to share hope and joy thru a new endeavor. The “Empty Nest Guests” podcast was born. Specifically recorded for those in their encore years, Charlotte’s latest passion encourages people as they navigate the empty nest years. For Charlotte, it’s all about getting to share the wisdom of other people. “Empty Nest Guests is one of those opportunities that I pray God uses to bless others with encouragement as they age,” says Charlotte.
A passionate author, she’s also written four YouVersion Bible plans that she hopes draw others to Christ. You can find her plans on the YouVersion Bible app by simply searching her name (Charlotte Guest).
Charlotte can reflect and see God weaving a wonderful community of balcony women in her own life. From her special English teacher to her accountability partner, her mentor, her mother, aunt, sister, family and close friends-it’s evident that God placed balcony women in her path at pivotal times in her life. Charlotte appreciates how God gives each of us unique gifts to be balcony women. For her, it’s encouragement. But for others, it looks different.
Jeremiah 1:5 says Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. And before you were born, I set you apart.
“How loved we are that we have a God that would care to know us and set us apart before we were even born.” Charlotte says, “When we take out our own eyes and put in the eyes of Christ, we see people that are fearfully and wonderfully made of the fingerprints of God. Seeing people as Christ sees them is the crux of being a balcony woman for me.”
Grit, grace and growth. A shift from doing Christian life to being more like Christ. Charlotte sees God in all the details and is grateful for the unhurried journey Christ has her on. Charlotte would be the first to admit her story is spotted with imperfections, but that’s what makes her a perfect balcony woman. She took a life that could have unraveled and gave it to the One who knit everything back together for good.
You can find Charlotte’s “Empty Nest Guests” anywhere you listen to podcasts – on Apple, Spotify, Google, etc. Charlotte and her husband Gordy have been married 33 years. They reside in Tulsa, OK and have three beautiful adult children, a son-in-law, daughter-in-law and two beloved therapy dogs, Fitz and Pearl.
If you have a balcony woman story that you want to share, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Blog Post by Joy Hulver