This is probably wrong, but

This is actually me teaching in PNG. I couldn't find one where a girl was raising her hand, but I promise, it happened.

When I used to teach high school English, there was one phrase students uttered that bugged me more than any other.  I’d ask a question, hands would go up, and then I’d call on a smart, articulate female student who would begin her answer with the dreaded . . .

This is probably wrong, but . . .and then, more often than not, she would give the right answer.

Why? Why? Why the disclaimer? And why was it usually the girls and never the boys who had to precede their answer with self-doubt?

Lately, I’ve thought of this a lot as I’ve heard myself and other women in my life reflexively offer disclaimers in countless areas of our lives.

I’m sorry my house is such a mess. There’s laundry everywhere!

I’m so sorry that my kids are acting like wild animals.

Oh, I’m just warning you that this dish is not poorganic at all. I just threw it together.

Oh, this haircut? Well, I know the color looks like Sharon Osborne, but it’s better than grey.

I’m sure that you’d rather have someone [older, smarter, younger, prettier, funnier, happier] volunteer, but if you can’t find that person, I’ll do it.

Let’s just face it. My house is usually a mess. My kids are childish because THEY ARE CHILDREN.  Food I make you is free! Like it.  My haircolor is what you get for $5 a box. AND if you can find someone [older, smarter, younger, prettier, funnier, or happier] to volunteer, you probably wouldn’t need me.

I think we gals offer disclaimers for a number of reasons; all of which reflect a bit of inauthentic behavior on our part.

I want YOU to know that I KNOW my problems; therefore, if you think my house is a mess, well, I beat you to it. I thought it first.  See. I’m so self-aware.

I want YOU to think that I have high standards for myself, which I may or may not have, but I will pretend to have them. (Aren’t my kids naughty? Actually, they act like this all the time, but it only bothers me in Target when YOU are glowering at me.)  See. I’m just faking it.

I want YOU to tell me that my mediocrity or failure is okay because I couldn’t bear to have you be disappointed by it. So I will announce it. Then you won’t be surprised.  See. I’m so insecure.

I’m falsely modest because when you say my hair looks awesome, I just don’t know how to say, “I know, right!?! I’m so H-O-T, now.”  See. I’m fishing for praise.

I’m evasive when you ask me for help because I don’t know how to say, “WOW, I think God has gifted me for just that! I’d love to.” See. I’m afraid to seem self-righteous.

Worse than this, I realize that offering disclaimers has become second nature to me. I offer them even when I don’t feel any of those things.  I virtually cannot open the door to my home without disparaging some aspect of its cleanliness, even if it is pristine.

What am I teaching my daughters? At what point are they going to lack the confidence to strap on some goggles and a tutu?  At what point are they going to question themselves? Their opinions? Their abilities? Their correct answers?  At what point are they going to begin their answers with, “This is probably wrong, but . . .?

All this has led me to one definitive conclusion. I’m giving up disclaimers for Lent.

Normally people give up some vice like Coke or chocolate, that they immediately readopt on Easter Sunday.  Some people might abandon a habit (like Facebook) in an effort to bring balance to their lives.  But I want to kick this disclaimer habit altogether.

I want to proclaim the truths of my life and my identity without shame. I am who I am, fearfully and wonderfully made with a fabulously normal life, full of foibles and faux pas. I want to be able to greet people openly without false modesty, pride, artifice, or guile.

Welcome to my life, Friend.  I hope you feel as comfortable here as I do. Let me move this pile of laundry so you can sit down. Would you like to help me fold?

PS: Without disclaimer, I am unashamedly happy to direct you to my new page, I SPEAK, which can be found under my about tab. Tell your friends! 🙂

* linked with Thought-Provoking Thursday, Painting Prose, Thankful Thursday, and Life Unmasked

43 thoughts on “This is probably wrong, but

    1. Yes. Let’s all do it! The test will be inviting people over to our homes, making them food, and letting them observe our children all in one fell swoop. My the end of the night we will feel like we are going to explode!! On the flip side, we will observe that your guests probably do not seem to care in the least bit why we haven’t rationalized our lives. 🙂

  1. This is probably wrong but…I think I was “that girl” you were referring to in your post. 😉 Haha!
    Great post!!

    1. Did you DO that? No Bruner gal that I know offers disclaimers. 🙂 I’m so happy you are here reading this. I have STUDENTS! (gush) I love it.

    1. I just want you to know that I was KILLING myself to keep this as close to 700 words as it is. I am seeing by the reactions that maybe brevity is the soul of awesomeness after all. 🙂

  2. When I fully embrace that my value as a person is based solely on the choice God made to love me and die for me, nothing else matters: laundry, kids’ behavior, hair color, that I am handicapped, that I can’t do the volunteer work I’d so love to do and am gifted to do but lack the energy to do. Embrace God’s love for you, and you can pass it on to others…as you fold the laundry together so you can FIND the sofa and a place to sit. 🙂

    1. “Penelope” I just want everyone to know that GOD is greatly using you in my life to encourage me not to apologize for where God has placed me, however mundane. Also, I thank God that he has placed us in each other’s lives in such an amazing way. 🙂

  3. wow. that was a post that went straight to my heart. thanks for sharing so honestly. i am challenged. we need to surround ourselves with the truth of who we are. not perfect but definitely loved and a work in progress. and how much more would we would be helping one another if we were real with each other? i think the disclaimers will be a hard habit to break. you will have to keep us posted as to how it goes. that would be encouraging. thanks. 🙂

    1. I will try to keep you posted, even if it means admitting that I failed utterly. Everyone seems to like it best when I fail utterly, which is just further proof that real authentic life is better and more helpful than fake, ashamed living. 🙂

  4. OMGoodness. This just happened as your sister came in my door! Amazing post. Amazing. The wisdom you bring in God given. I am giving up disclaimers for Lent and beyond. Done.

  5. ahhh.. I LOVE this post.. and I want to squeeze the puddin’ out of your little munchkin..oh how I miss my daughters being little ..they are all wonderful young ladies now.., time passes by much too quickly.. my oldest use to dress up just like yours..she is a fashion designer now..hmm just sayin’.. 🙂

  6. Thank you, Katrina. Excellent.

    So how can I as a man respond to women in order to encourage them when I hear them giving these sorts of disclaimers? I was telling my wife about your post last night and telling her how much she was going to like it. Later, I made a little comment on the types of disclaimers I hear her sometimes use, and I was trying to encourage her that she didn’t need to live in the false guilt of that. I was trying to give her freedom. But she felt ridiculed. Oops! Perhaps I could have said it differently. Perhaps she was just too tired at that late hour.

    Anyway, here’s one man who really wants to support my sisters (and brothers–I often do this too!) to live in the freedom and confidence that we have in Christ to be real in our godly humility.
    Ben recently posted…New songs about a new road at Koi Nili, “the place where they sing.”My Profile

    1. Yes, my husband has been telling me for years that I don’t need to give disclaimers. I think the turning point for me was realizing that I don’t want my daughters to feel like they need to offer disclaimers for things in their lives that they need not be ashamed. If we think of ourselves as God’s precious children, it is a little easier to see all the areas of our lives where He probably just wants to comfort us and tell us to relax. 🙂 (You might want to read my False Guilt post). Thanks for reading! 🙂

  7. Thanks so much for some awesome & convicting food for thought that I will be trying my best to allow to spill over into my life and then filter into my daughter’s lives.

  8. I think some of this is passed down. I remember my grandmother (maternal) apologizing for something not turning out right at EVERY meal; my mom doesn’t do it at every meal, but often enough. Have you ever noticed that your best friends are the ones whose houses are as messy as your own? My husband doesn’t like inviting people over unless the house is perfect, but I don’t mind, as long I know that they have messy houses, too 🙂

  9. Seriously best.post.ever.

    I do this alllllllllllllllllllllllllll the time. What the heck is wrong with me!? I needed to hear this. I need a self-help group….Really. I’m so bad about this. Thank you for this post. I hadn’t even thought about my child hearing me do this and I don’t want to instill feelings of self doubt in him or my future children. What an eye opening post! Thank you again!
    Stephanie @ Faith & Fitness: Living Healthy for Him recently posted…{Summer of 7} Amazing Aviation, A sick baby and a week about ClothesMy Profile

  10. I’m not sure if its the disclaimers I need to give up… Or something long the lines of ” all comments that indicate that we both know I’m inferior to you” changing the way one communicates is pretty difficult… Worth thinking about.

  11. Good post, thank you for the succinct points that you made; especially the “reasoning”.

    This scenario is prevalent, and is concerning as it very much relates to self confidence and self respect. Do any of you have suggestions on what to say to someone who is phrasing a disclaimer, or over using, “I’m sorry” ? I want to help build someone up (whether it be a friend, family member, or cashier, etc) by telling them there is no need to be sorry, apologetic, or make a disclaimer about all the things they *think* they need to be accountable for, but I sense that it can backfire by sounding like a criticism. The sense of being criticized would only compound the problem, and make them more self conscious, apologetic, and use more disclaimers. I typically say, “there is no need to be sorry” to the ‘over-apologizers’, but that sounds trite when the message implies so much more. The ‘over-disclaimers’ are more of a challenge. Like the title of the post, if only they knew how incredibly confident and salient they sound by omitting “This is probably wrong but..” and skipping straight to their answer. But how to address this?

  12. I love the “would you like to help me fold” at the end — I would LOVE for a friend to invite me to help fold laundry with her! Not because I have an abiding love of folding laundry, but, because it’s there, it needs to be done, it would be a blessing, and we can talk over laundry as well as over tea.
    Marcy recently posted…ParkourMy Profile

    1. I know! I think we could have a lot more fun doing our chores if we would do them with a friend, right!? 🙂

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