They’re those sentences that preface whatever it is you’re doing. Having someone over, providing a meal or service, showing up to something….you get the hello how are you’s out of the way and it’s that next thing that slips out.
It’s the: “Oh excuse my house, it’s such a mess” (when, is it really??), or the “Well, this didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to so I hope it’s alright and you don’t hate it.” Then there’s the “We really wanted to do [insert thing or even here] but really our life is so crazy in these billion ways.”
For me it’s usually “I will try to do this presentation in your language, but please be patient because I am just learning.” Among others.
I have one of those presentations coming up in a few weeks and as I mulled over in my head what I would say, that disclaimer was the first sentence drafted in my imaginary speech.
I’ve been talking recently with a lady much wiser than myself, and she always asks me “well, are you doing [whatever it is you’re doing ] to get a longing fulfilled?”
What that usually boils down to is examining my motives for what I’m doing. And often times I’m completely unaware of them. It’s, for example, the difference between; am I unpacking these boxes right now because I am afraid my landlord will come over this morning and judge me because I’m not unpacked yet and their place is still cluttered, or; am I unpacking these boxes because I want us to be settled in this place, and we really need a workable kitchen for that to happen so I unpack the kitchen boxes? The first reason is because I want them to think highly of me (I’m longing for significance and worth) and I am operating out of my fear that they will think less of me. The second is just doing what needs to be done in life, in the manner I want to get it done.
So these longings, and my actions to get them fulfilled have been on my mind a lot.
And I got to thinking, that these disclaimers are really something we utter to get a longing fulfilled.
What we’re often saying when when we say “Hi! come in! Don’t mind my house, it’s a mess” is “Don’t think less of me because I can’t stay on top of this” or even perhaps “I want you to be impressed, or even intimidated, by me and what I consider a ‘mess’ because let’s all be real my house is clean.”
We’re longing for approval, for significance, for worth…and we’re asking others to validate that.
Isn’t that true though?
Even if it’s not always on that deep of a level, our disclaimers are screaming “I’m not OK with who I am! And I need you to validate me and tell me I’m significant.”
The reality is, everyone knows that I’m learning language and I don’t need to bring their mind to that and tell them I’m just learning so they’ll either be patient with me, or impressed by what I do know.
Everyone knows that life is crazy, that houses get messed up, that we don’t all always bake everything like a Top Chef, and that we don’t always have time in our schedule for everything. And we all know those people (or are those people *cough cough* ) who try to keep it all together and like the woman asking “does this dress make me look fat?” we just want to hear “no, of course not, you’re perfect and beautiful and lovely.”
Disclaimers bring attention to our faults or our strengths and beg others to pay attention to them. If we’re really being honest, they ask for too much accolade or actually include too much self deprecation.
No more disclaimers.
Who we are, what we’ve provided, where and when we show up, how much we can or can’t speak the local language….is enough. It is what it is, and we don’t need to make it more or less than that by demanding others pay attention to it.
When I get up to make my presentation I hope I am able to get up and say my hello how are you’s and confidently move into what it is I’m there to provide. Because what I’m offering is not myself, or my talents, my experience, or any combination of those things…but it’s God-given content coming through me to serve someone else. And maybe, just maybe, it’s not all about me.
No more disclaimers, please!