The other day, I was writing a caption for an Instagram post featuring this picture. Honestly, it’s a picture that makes me feel beautiful. That should be all I need to say, right?
But as I was composing the caption, I found myself starting with “I feel beautiful” and ending with disclaimers. Things like, “Pay no attention to those fine lines forming! #momlife, am I right?” “There’s a story behind my crooked nose.” And “…except for my off-white teeth. (Too much coffee.)”
A disclaimer is a statement that denies, rejects a belief, and removes responsibility. It’s like the fine print at the bottom of an advertisement – “side effects may include…company is not liable for…actual results may vary.” Basically, saying one thing, and then denying it partially or completely.
Raise your hand if you ever experience this. Maybe you suggest an idea, only to follow it with, “…but we don’t have to, it’s silly.” Or you try to confidently state something or assert yourself, and you end up saying, “well, never mind, I don’t really know.”
Why? Why do we do this to ourselves? I hate to generalize, but women seem to be more guilty of this than men.
I think for me, I can back down for three reasons.
First, because I don’t really believe what I’m putting out there into the world to begin with. I’m already starting at a disadvantage because I don’t really believe something I’m declaring, even timidly.
Instead I usually give in to the lies. For about a year, I have been trying to show some serious opposition to the lies in my mind, if not conquer them completely. I think I have gotten myself at least to a point where I don’t give in to the extreme lies – like “I’m the worst mother in the world,” or “nothing I do is good enough.” Now I’m working on the more subtle, slippery ones. Like the ones that start with “Did God really say…” (Genesis 3:1, NIV)
Second, I disclaim because I overthink things. Like that post. I started out feeling beautiful, but the more I looked at the picture, held it at different angles, scrutinized it – I didn’t feel so great about it after all.
Unfortunately, in the world we live in, there will always be reasons to second guess ourselves. There will always be a voice that tells us that maybe we shouldn’t be so confident. But it goes back to belief. What truths do you believe? Will you let them win over the lies, or will the lies come out on top?
2 Corinthians 10:5 says, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (NIV) We have power over our thoughts. And if we align them with what God believes about us, I think we’ll be unstoppable.
And finally, I disclaim because I’m afraid of what people will think if I state something with confidence. What if they think I’m proud, or disagree with me and think I’m foolish?
Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Remember no one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” It truly starts with you, in your own headspace. It’s not really about what someone else thinks or says. That is a difficult thing for me to believe, but I’m working to overcome it.
Friends, I think we should make a decision to disclaim ourselves less and proclaim ourselves more. Or even better, to proclaim God more, to stand by the truth and not the lies. My prayer is that I can see the world, others, and myself the way that God sees us, and I pray that for you too, wherever you are in your journey.
Do you ever struggle with disclaimers? What are some things you can (or need to) proclaim proudly? Some for me: I am a good mom. I am loved and valuable. I am beautiful. Your turn!