Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

June 29, 2008


Give a few cheers for the balcony people in your life


Take a deep breath and give a few cheers for your balcony people. You would be miserable without them. They are as necessary as air and water.

Who are balcony people? They are easy to recognize. They are never “on your back.” They are real. They are not superficial. They tell you the truth but always in an uplifting way.

Balcony people never say, “I need to give you some constructive criticism.” Those words are usually a prelude to a stinging rebuke from someone who wants to “stick it to you.” Calling it “constructive criticism” is their way of sugar-coating and justifying their scolding. Balcony people almost never begin a sentence by saying, “I love you but….”

So what is the opposite of balcony people? You guessed it – basement people. They too are easy to recognize. They are the ones who believe they are on a special mission from God to offer “constructive criticism” to the poor souls who do not measure up to their standards.

Balcony people and basement people are in everyone’s life. I suppose there is a third category, people who may be called the porch people. They are not cheering for you. They are not on your back. They are simply indifferent. They are wrapped up in their own apathy. They don’t care.  They are out on the porch.  

These descriptions are actually transparent. Balcony people are "up;" basement people are "down;" and porch people are “out of the picture” or “off the screen.” The implication is clear. Balcony people pull us upward. Basement people pull us downward. And porch people don’t give a rip.

The challenge is to focus on our balcony people. They are the ones who help us make it when the hardships of life are overwhelming. Somehow they save us from giving up when life, like war, is hell. They do this in simple ways. Being a balcony person is not rocket science. Last Sunday a sweet friend gave my wife a new purse for no reason but love. On the side of the purse were the words, “Too blessed to be stressed.” My wife’s face lit up like the morning sun.

Basement people are not difficult to identify. They may be people in the past or the present. They may be dead or alive. Their influence is negative. They are always ready with a word of discouragement or criticism. They have perfected the art of “constructive criticism." They can drag you down in a heartbeat – but only if you allow it. You don’t have to allow it. You have a choice.

Memories of basement people tend to reside in the murky water of our subconscious minds. Their words stay with us and haunt us. An example might be the angry comment of a parent to a child: "You’re so stupid that you will never amount to anything!" As that child tries to succeed as an adult, those words become a scream from the basement that frustrates achievement.

Balcony people have a positive influence in our lives. They are the ones who write you a note to compliment you on a job well done or offer you words of praise. They encourage you to believe in yourself – even when you have made a mess of things. They help you pick up the pieces and try again.

The expression "balcony" conveys the beautiful idea that these persons are above us, leaning over the balcony of life to cheer us on. Their characteristic phrase is, "You can do it," and "You have what it takes." Without them few of us can ever do our best at anything.

Pay little attention to your basement people. Instead focus on your balcony cheerleaders. Let them know how much they mean to you. Enjoy them. On the other hand, refuse let your basement people ruin your day. Assert yourself. Tell the basement people to get off your back. Decide today that you will not allow them to spoil your life any longer.

Give thanks for the balcony people even if they are few in number. Listen to them and allow their encouragement to buoy your spirit. Think about how blessed you are to have them in your balcony.  

Lately I feel so blessed by my balcony people that I can hardly hear what my basement people are saying. Maybe it’s not so bad after all that I can’t hear as well as I once did. I don’t really have to hear the balcony people. I just look up, realize that they are cheering me on, and rejoice. That’s when I realize that I’m too blessed to be depressed or stressed! Glory! + + +