Life without Disclaimers

I am terrified every time I turn on Downton Abbey. I love each character so much (well, except Thomas…), and I am terrified that evil/wonderful Julian Fellowes is going to kill someone else I love. (First Sybil, then Matthew, etc. etc.) So needless to say, when my husband and I turned on the DVR to watch the most recent episode, a “viewer discretion warning” popped up, and panic ensued. I grabbed Evan’s hand and whined, “What are they going to do?” “I’m so scared,” I said, over and over. That small disclaimer at the beginning gave me a hint of what was to come. I could NOT enjoy even the happy, light-hearted plot points, because I was consumed with the bad lurking around the corner.

My small group is  reading A Million Little Ways, and in Chapter 12, Emily writes about her process of learning to pay attention to the art people make with their lives. She says, “…I also noticed the discouragement and frustration of people who denied they had anything to offer at all. I began to notice the disclaimers people put on their deepest desires.”

I underlined those two sentences. Then I underlined them again. I read a few pages, went back, read them a third time. And they have been ruminating in my mind ever since. I can not get them out of my head.

I think that’s because it seems like they were written about me.

A few days ago at work, I was wrapping up a meeting. We were heading out to lunch for my boss’ birthday, but I needed to stop at home and pick up my son first. A coworker asked to go with me (she wanted some extra snuggle time with that sweet boy). I said, “Of course,” but quickly added, “I just don’t know what my house looks like…”

A disclaimer. I was eager to invite her into my home and into my life, but I had to cover my bases first. I wanted to make sure she knew that I knew my house was messy, as if doing so would somehow protect her opinion of me. When I talk about scrapbooking or card making, I say it is just a hobby, lest someone think I dedicate too much time or energy to it. If someone compliments my hair, I say, “Oh, it’s driving me crazy. I really need a haircut.” If someone talks about my outfit, I say, “I was too lazy to iron it this morning,” or “It was on sale!” None of those things are bad, but I think I use these statements as some kind of defense mechanism.

I want to let someone off the hook in case they don’t really mean what they’ve said, or I want them to know I don’t feel I deserve their compliment or attention.

And the truth is, I have wanted to write a blog for so long and keep holding off because, like Emily writes in the book, I’ve felt I have nothing to offer. Or, even if I do, I’m embarrassed to offer it. I can’t figure out why, and it’s all silly, I know, but there it is.

I want to live a life with fewer disclaimers. Less “just” this and “only” that.

Because the truth is, just like on Downton, a disclaimer is a premonition of what’s to come, and it keeps me from enjoying what’s good in the present. Every time I preface my thoughts or my actions or my passion with a disclaimer, I let my insecurity win. I stop being fully myself, comfortable and content with who I am am and what I have and where I am.

Here’s to being free from disclaimers.

My One Little Word for 2014 is “free.” I believe, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free,” but I don’t quite know what that means. This year, I’m exploring what it might mean for me to experience freedom in all areas of my life.

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