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The blessing of our ‘balcony people’

Every now and then I run across a life-changing lesson. That happened a few years ago when a friend named Toni Short handed me a book so thin you could almost see through it. It’s called Balcony People, by Joyce Heatherley.

In the book Ms. Joyce tells of a speech she once heard about the mind. The mind, she says, is divided into three parts: the bottom two sections consist of the unconscious, and the top section is the conscious. I didn’t know my mind was of such as size it needed multi-levels, but I was glad to hear it.

She goes on to point out that the very bottom of the unconscious mind – the basement – is where we store some of the bad things. It’s filled with dark and murky water. There you’ll find the “basement people” of your life, those who have long slung darts down into the dark recesses of your mind. You can hear them now, “Nah, you won’t ever amount to anything.”

But, if it’s all the same to you, we’ll not stroll down to that part of the mind today. You don’t want to legitimize those mean ol’ folks. Let’s keep our eye on the prize, my friend.

Where we want to go is to the upper deck of our unconscious minds. That’s where we store the most positive thoughts. I liked that thought and began to explore it more. I have come to find that if you want to get up to that section of your brain, you’d better start early. It’s a good little ways up to the grandstands where those people sit and cheer. Sometimes you’ll find them way up in the nose-bleed section, maybe as high up as my daughter Rachel and I once sat watching an Astros game — up by the steel beams. But that’s all right. The people we’re talking about don’t mind sitting up as high as they need to, just as long as they get to cheer you on.

When you look up and see those blessed friends, you’re looking at what Ms. Joyce calls your balcony people. They are pretty special people, and your mind is sure glad they are there. They yell a lot louder than the basement people, too.

You know these balcony people: They are the ones in the bleachers with an umbrella in freezing rain, hollering, “Good job!” and “I told ya you could do it!” They are the powerful positive influences in your life. They are the ones who always believe in you, no matter what. Ay, aren’t we thankful for them!

When I look up and squint just a little, I can see folks all the way back to my growing-up red-clay days – the Preacher Millers, Grandmas, Mamas, Uncle Anguses, Mary Ednas, Maw-maws, Uncle Altons and Aunt Florences, Emilies – oh my, what a list, and it has just gotten started. You know of most on that list, because most of them have starred in our writings for the better part of two decades. Stay tuned, you’re likely to read a bit more about them up ahead a week or two.

So, today may be a good day to take your pen – or just your mind, that’ll do – and start scrolling down your own list, making it as long as you can. When you finish – although you never really finish – be sure to write up at the top the title that will remind you just how far up high in the grandstands these people are and to what extent they will go to cheer for you all along the way. Just write: My balcony people.

That’ll do.

P.S. By the way, when you write your list, it’s all right if you say a little prayer of thanksgiving to the Lord. Those balcony people are some of the Lord’s greatest gifts. Blessings to all the balcony people, no matter how high up in the grandstands they sit.