Hey! You have no idea how honored I am that you’re here, reading my blog. Lately I’ve seen the traffic and received comments regularly from people I don’t know in real life or never had the time to get to know on a deeper level. Originally I had a series outlined that addressed some very deep things and it is necessary to step back and introduce myself to you. It’s always important to know whom we are allowing to influence and speak into our lives.
Sometimes on the surface with social media and even a blog, we can create a persona that isn’t fully genuine. I want to break the standard of not being authentic. I want you to see behind words and pictures. My social media isn’t going to show you the pieces of me that are terrible. Why? Because I need a reminder of what is good. I need to document pieces of my life that are a work in progress to remind me how far I’ve come. Remind me how much of a blessing my current situation is versus where I could be or have been. Behind the pictures, behind the words, there is so much more. So here, I begin the journey of introducing you to the real Danielle.
I was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana to a deputy sheriff and a town beautician. My mother tells me she watched the 1984 Olympics on television while she recovered with me in the hospital. It was truly a different time back then. People could buy homes for less than ten thousand dollars. People worked hard for what they had, which was usually very little. Yet they were content. Internet was a technology just beginning on college campuses. Computers weren’t even in homes yet because they cost an incredible amount of money. People used landline phones attached to the wall to call friends and family.
I grew up in a very small town. The town still has a population around four thousand give or take. My home church in Indianapolis has more members than the town I grew up in. The town was small. Did I mention that? Everyone knew my name or at least knew I was Steve and Bernie Lawson’s daughter. You see, I spent most of my primary years in pretty large shadows—my parents. Those shadows sheltered me from so much of the world, but also made me conform to a certain pattern of behavior. We lived a pretty public life. It wasn’t until high school I realized just how many people knew me because of my parents. That also means people were watching me. Proper behavior in public was expected. I knew how to behave during adult social engagements. I knew how to sit in a circle of all male law enforcement officers and be one of the guys.
There was to be no whining (I did), no complaining (I did) and no fighting with my brother (That I did plenty of within the confines of the back seat of multiple squad cars and inside and outside the home.) I was to look presentable when I walked out of the house. My hair needed to be out of my face and my face needed to look natural even if makeup was applied. This wasn’t explicitly stated; at least I don’t remember it. But my parents modeled it. They never left the house unkempt.
Back in the days when police officers actually wore Class B uniforms, my dad would get out his pressed, fresh-from-the-dry-cleaner uniform, and start the process of making it regulation compliant. He’d sometimes have a ruler out to ensure his nametape and pins were exactly as they should be. With pride and honor he put that uniform together. He vigilantly ensured his boots were shined. He’d sit on the floor, his back against the couch, with his boot shining bucket and brush those toes while watching something on television with us.
My mother, the beautician—she was and still is always put together. Her hair is always colored to an acceptable but stylish fashion. Her hair is always short and kept well. She’s always had the most beautiful skin and she accentuates her features well with make up. You’ll still find her with blue eye liner and a face put together tastefully and respectfully. Her clothes are in style and give a clean-line appearance. Again fully put together. While she doesn’t put on a uniform per se, she takes pride and honor in making sure she is ready for the day.
So no, it was never explicitly stated that I must dress or look a certain way, it was modeled in full extent in front of me—take pride in how you look because it represents your honor and dignity.
The shadows of my parents were so large. I wanted to be known, too. I needed to do something to get noticed. I wanted to be known and loved for me. Being sheltered from many of the evils of the world, I chose to excel in academics and sports. I got to be in the local newspapers. I got to be a source of pride for my parents and finally I was being noticed as Danielle, not just Steve and Bernie’s daughter.
As a kid my brother and I were pretty close. We were each other’s only playmates. We knew how to play some things and be creative, that’s for sure. We did fight, a lot, physically usually, but it wasn’t because we hated each other. It was just something to do. He probably annoyed me, I probably (read: always) instigated and picked on him so he would fight me. For a very long time I was much larger than him so I knew I could dominate and win. Until he cried and I got in trouble. Always.
I didn’t grow up in the church. In fact, the story of how I was saved is embarrassing. In high school sophomore honors English I was struggling. Everyone in the classroom picked up on allegories and I had no freaking clue what they were talking about. As my peers answered questions I realized they all knew biblical references I had no clue about. That’s when I started to go to church with my best friend and her family. That’s when Jesus took my curiosity for Bible stories and embarrassment of not knowing them and rocked my world with so much more.
Excited as I was to have found Christ, I wish someone had told me about enemy attacks that happen once we are followers of Christ. I wish I had someone discipling me one-on-one after I gave my life to Christ. Because that’s when my life started to spin out of control.
The enemy hit me with my food addiction and lust. He made me feel like I was worthless. I felt everything around me closing in and nothing I did anymore was enough. Nothing I could do was ever enough. When I fell into sin, no one was there for me. Instead of people to lock shields with, I was met with a lot of condemnation. I was met with pointed fingers. I was met with people who thought they knew what was right for me and I could see right through them—they were either going to report everything back to my parents or they were such lost souls themselves they couldn’t even guide me properly.
So I left. I left town. I graduated from Butler University with honors. I got married at twenty to the man I am still married to today. By the grace of God we get to be a true love story for Jesus and in Jesus. Our story isn’t easy, either, but I wouldn’t change a single moment of my life. I love who I am today. I love what God has allowed in order to transform our lives from what Satan meant for evil.
I love Jesus. I love God’s Word. I love sitting across from women discipling them. I love mentoring. I never want another woman to be without a discipling relationship—one that will tell them, “Look you gave your life to Jesus, but this is just the beginning of the battle. It will get harder. It will suck at times. But I am here, and here is what God’s Word says about Him and you in Him.” I never want a woman to be alone and go through the hard shit alone.
The next layer of my story starts next week. It only gets more real from here on out. Would you join me? Be sure to subscribe to the blog at the top right so you won’t miss what is coming.
Reflection: Who are you? Where do you come from? How do you mirror the behaviors of your parents? With what influences are you surrounding yourself? Do you struggle with the inauthenticity of our culture today?