Are You a Balcony or Basement Person?
This question is so near & dear to my heart – and one that ultimately defines our lives. I first heard it at a women’s retreat in college, & it’s come to mind many times since:
“Am I a Balcony Person or a Basement Person?”
In other words… do I bring people up or drag them down? What is my impact on the lives of others?
Growing up, my parents instilled a desire in me to help other people & improve the world around me. They didn’t give me a grandiose plan, but instead modeled a life of helping others in simple, genuine, everyday ways (& in huge, sweepingly generous ways). They were true Balcony People, and I aspire to be like them because of their impact on myself & others.
A Balcony Person brings people to a higher place – where they can flourish, live freely, pursue their passions, & become better human beings. Balcony People encourage, help, give, serve, are considerate, enthusiastic & joyful, quick to forgive, good listeners, diligent, compassionate. They make people’s lives better. They also make PEOPLE better 🙂 They know how to encourage others to grow into the best version of themselves.
Basement People bring people down – through discouragement, temptation, selfish behavior, sin, criticism, bigotry, impatience, and just plain meanness. They hold grudges, backstab, act lazy, fail to follow through, seek their own glory & benefit above others, talk too much (or not at all), & take things out on other people. They don’t share; they hoard. They don’t care; they’re too concerned with their own lives. They make people’s lives more difficult. They don’t invest in other people. Maybe they watch TV all day or are drama-queens. The point is: They don’t make our world a better place, they make their world a better place.
No one wants to be known as a Basement Person. We wanna have a positive influence on others & be remembered fondly for our contribution to the world. But everyone’s had moments of Basement behavior. At times we’ve all been sinful, selfish, judgmental, unhelpful, angry & divisive. I know I have. Each of us has room to grow in becoming a person who brings others up!
To Become Balcony People, We Must Realize 2 Things:
- To bring people “up”, we must first be there ourselves! Leading ourselves to higher ground is priority #1. Bringing people with us is step #2. We simply cannot bring people to a place we’ve never been.
- To bring people “up”, we must know what “up” is! Everyone desires to “make the world a better place”, but people define it differently. Should we seek a utopian world with no-holds-barred freedom for all? No. My belief is that for humans to flourish long-term, we must seek freedom within safe parameters. People can’t do everything they please… because sometimes what pleases one harms another.
I believe in a perfect Truth that sets people free: God’s word, time-tested & wise beyond compare. His book defines a better world in terms of purity, love, peace & joy – not temporary lusts & base passions (often satisfied at people’s expense). He defines “up”, not me!
Step Away from the Bottom-Dwellers!
My Dad once said that friends who encourage us to party, have sex, & do drugs are no friends at all. That stuck with me. I decided to be the type of friend who’d make people’s lives better – not just for the moment, but for their lifetime.
That meant I wouldn’t always be the “fun friend”. Yes, fun makes people’s lives better today, but living for it alone destroys their tomorrow.
Much of what’s considered “a good time” leads to a negative end: Reckless driving, promiscuity, drug experimentation, XXX sites, you name it. A true friend would never tempt you to do something that encourages addiction in your life & ultimately consumes you.
If this sounds like your friends, then take a step back! You’re hanging out with Basement People, & the longer you do, the further down you go.
Yes, they may mock & jeer your new lifestyle, but in reality: When you stand for good, people engaged in bad wanna throw stones. Why? Because you represent something they aren’t. Just ignore the haters & keep aiming higher. You’ll attract other Balcony Peeps in no time!!
God’s put many Balcony People in my life, and I am very grateful! They’ve encouraged me when I needed it most.
Every time I’m around these people, they lift me up. They live a life of helping people around them, so it’s no wonder people enjoy their company!
I wanna lift people up like that. Don’t you?
I wanna leave every place better than when I came. Don’t you?
I wanna be a light, a word of encouragement, a helping hand, a listening ear, a prayer warrior, & a wise counselor. Don’t you?
I wanna sow seeds of kindness because God is kind to me. Don’t you?
Be a balcony person. Bring people up. Listen. Lend a helping hand.
Encourage them. Give good advice (based on Scripture, not your own ideas!). Write a letter. Help someone with groceries. Pay for their Starbucks. Give the car-less a lift. Wait for them (oh, if only more people would linger & wait!). Freely teach them what you’ve been learning.
And on a larger scale: Be a person of integrity. Keep your word (eek!). Love God. Love yourself. Forgive people, the same day. Care for people others overlook. Give to meet needs around you. Spend time with younger & older people – you’ll be better for it. Stick up for someone (or a group of someones).
I’m not saying I have this down yet, at all – I have much to learn. But we don’t have to be perfect or profound to be helpful. Let’s just keep our eyes open for ways, big & small, to lift others up & improve their lives. It’s as simple (& awesome) as that.