Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

May 12, 2019


Feeding on the wretched evaluations of others


            The concept of balcony people and basement people has been enormously helpful to me. Balcony people encourage others.  Basement people are faultfinders. To live well, each of us must learn to handle both types of people as well as those who are simply indifferent toward us.

            Balcony people meet a basic human need. All of us need in our lives people who affirm us and cheer us on. Life would be well-nigh impossible without such persons. Basement people, if we listen to their criticism, can make life miserable. So the trick is to give thanks for our cheerleaders and pay little attention to our evaluators.

            In his helpful book Healing Meditations for Life, David Seamands tells of counseling a woman who struggled with resentment toward her mother. The woman’s mother was a classic basement person whose overcritical and perfectionistic ways had piled hurts and humiliations on her daughter for many years. This “voice from the basement” had created the daughter’s deep-seated resentment.

            One day David said to her, “It sure looks to me like you need to cut the umbilical cord to your mother and stop letting her feed you with those downgrading evaluations.” Startled, the woman replied, “Oh I’m sorry; I guess I did not tell you that my mother has been dead for over five years.”

            David was embarrassed. The woman clammed up for the rest of the counseling session. And David said he was thinking, “Boy, Seamands, you sure blew it today!” The next time she came for counseling, the woman began by saying, “I realize you know I’m a nurse, but do you know where I do most of my work?” David admitted he did not know.

She said, “Well, I spend most of my time helping deliver babies. So I have assisted doctors in cutting the umbilical cord hundreds of times. So last week when you said I needed to cut the umbilical cord to my mother, it really shocked me. As I drove home, the only thing I could picture in my mind was a cord stretching from here right into my mother’s grave in Florida! I actually dreamed about that crazy cord twice. You were exactly right. This week I spent a lot of time in prayer, and I found the grace to forgive her, and to ask God to forgive me for resenting and blaming her all these years.”

She went on to say, “And I have been amazed – I am not feeding on her wretched evaluations of me anymore. I am beginning to get a whole new sense of who I am as God’s daughter, and I am learning to feed on His opinions of me. And it’s beginning to feel awfully good!”

Seamands offered this profound conclusion: “Hate keeps us chained to the people and the pains of the past. Only forgiveness and love can free us!”
            The woman David was counseling may not have thought of him as a “balcony person” but he was for her. He did not chastise her for her resentment but encouraged her to get free of it by cutting the cord from her “basement” mother.

If reading this, it occurs to you that you are a basement person in someone’s life, you could call that behavior to a halt. You could crawl out of that basement and get in that person’s balcony. You could do that. You could do it today, right now. It would literally change your life and the life of the person you are feeding downgrading evaluations.

Can you think of a basement person who has been feeding you with wretched evaluations? Are you chained to some basement person in your life? Do you need to cut the cord and get free? You can, and in that freedom you could become a balcony person for the people who mean the most to you.

It’s the best way to live. + + +