Mirror Mirror

Mirror Mirror

Our church has a women's group called Sisterhood. The Sisterhood Group is composed of smaller groups throughout all of the multiple campuses of our church. This special women’s group meets in many different forms and capacities and does amazing, benevolent charitable work throughout our region, and the world! The more I learn about this group, the more I want to get involved. I really am so blown away and amazed by all of the different things that the Sisterhood group is a part of!

Our lead female pastor hosts a podcast each week called the So Good Sisterhood, and each week I am a part of a sisterhood group which gets together via zoom, and together we dive into the podcast. We go over questions, make connections, check in on each other, and pray for each other. I have just met some of these women and their continued words of encouragement and love are so affirming! Honestly it has been one of the best things for me in this season of my life, it has filled my cup, and brought joy to my soul. This podcast and these “Sisters” have refreshed me, encouraged me and pushed me to be the best version of myself.  

The overarching theme for this season of the podcast has been “reflecting Christ in everything we do”. I know that God has placed me in this group in my life for such a reason. There’s no coincidences- only “God wink’s”.  

A few weeks ago the podcast was talking about shining authentically, really showing up and being authentically who you are, and overcoming approval addiction. This idea of approval addition was something I had never heard of before. Now, I always would describe myself as a “people pleaser”, but it wasn’t until I listened to this podcast, but I had this revelation that it wasn’t just being a “people pleaser” or not wanting to cause conflict…but that it is a true addiction. The best definition I could find is: An approval addict is someone who relies on the approval of others for their self-esteem and self-worth. This was such a complex thought to digest… and I felt as if it described the majority of my life. 

I realized that there were different times or seasons of my life when I was truly changing my identity to seek the approval of the people around me. Whether it was how I spoke, how I acted, what I wore, what I ate, what I drank or what I did. 

I literally envision the closet from the classic movie Clueless! If you're unfamiliar, the movie Clueless was essentially the “Barbie'' movie of the 90’s. You see Cher Horowitz was a ridiculously stylish, popular teenager living in a Beverly Hills mega mansion with her wealthy father, and she had the closet that dreams are made of. Her closet had a virtual assistant which would filter through different looks to create the perfect outfit. With a click of a button she could switch her outfit based on her mood!  Bam… it was like my life. Depending on where I was and who I was with… my personality, behavior, demeanor, vocabulary would change. It’s almost as if I can see myself mentally pressing the button to change the version of me that would show up at my friends pool party into a different version of me that would show up at my grandfather’s birthday dinner. Not only was I changing my clothes… but my personality. Thinking back… I felt like I did this my entire life.

The very first memory I have of this was on Grandparents Day at school in the first grade. You see, my grandparents lived far away so instead of my grandparents coming to school… My dad came. Now I never fully came clean to him about this…[adding to my list of regrets] so let’s make a long story short [I promise I tried]. There was a boy who used to pick on me, pull my hair and try to kiss me. So what did I do… I kicked him in the crotch. Not sure how I knew how to do that or why to do that… but we can blame society and probably the older kids on the bus. And when my dad was at school for Grandparent’s day… that boy… who’s name I couldn’t remember if you paid me a billion dollars… had the audacity to tell my dad on me. How rude! Instead of coming clean and being honest… I lied. I told him that boy was crazy [I mean… I'm not sure what I exactly said as a first grader… I also used to chew gum and stick it under the desk… then re-eat it… so yeah… there’s a lot to unpack with first grade Danielle], but the point is… I lied… I changed my personality so my dad wouldn’t be mad… so he would continue to think of me as his perfect little angel…[eye roll….he obviously didn’t know about the gum either]. 

And I realized that I have done “that” my entire life. When I was at church I was one version of myself, and a completely different version when I was with my friends or chatting online… you know on AIM [the free version of AOL messenger]… the good old days. 

Looking back I feel so sad for all of those different versions of young Danielle. All of those versions who felt that she had to be someone else entirely just in order to fit in and be liked. I am so sad that belonging and being liked by others, not God, was so incredibly important to me that I changed.  

It left me wondering why fitting in and being liked was so important to me to begin with. I think like many people I always struggled with standing apart from the crowd. Growing up I didn’t want to be an outlier. I literally was the person who would spend the last $30 in my bank account [obviously this was in college, when managing money wasn’t my strong suit] to buy a hat, jersey or t-shirt for a sports team if I was going to a game… scouring TJ Maxx and Marshalls like a lunatic for a specific logo or color… just because I felt that to my core… that I just had to fit in. 

I was living my very own version of Hannah Montana. A secret life. A double life. Multiple personalities. For years I would never talk about church or religion with someone unless I knew they were in fact a Christian; because I didn’t ever want to ruffle anyone's feathers. Election season wrecks havoc on my nervous system. Constantly trying to be someone others would approve of… it was exhausting.  It all came crashing down when I started Student Teaching in college. I realized that I couldn't very well tell my students they should study, be respectful, dress respectable, shouldn’t drink, smoke or do drugs… if I was. [I am a terrible liar…i’m not sure how I got away with that whole “no I didn’t kick that boy in the cajones” bit in the first grade] {{side note… if you haven’t read all of my blogs… welcome, My name is Danielle and I am a very imperfect person who has been completely and utterly saved by the grace of God- I definitely made many mistakes growing up, but I am forgiven and free}}  It was like an Epiphany sent straight from God himself. I realized that when you are so focused on trying to fit in, it holds you back from reaching your maximum potential. It holds you back from your truest purpose… which comes from God. God showed me that trying to appease others with how I dressed, spoke, acted, was not honoring God and it also wasn’t honoring myself. I realized that once you start living your life for God, instead of for other people, amazing things happen. When you invest your energy into becoming the best possible version of yourself instead of trying to gain everyone else's approval, you realize that only one opinion matters and you can start living a life that is not only pleasing to God but an authentic life, one you can be proud of. 

Now, throughout the years I still have struggled with this. This was not something that changed overnight. Attending event’s still makes me break out in hives… making sure I wasn’t wearing “cocktail attire” to a “black tie” wedding almost did me in. I still have to force myself not to go into debt to buy my son a specific outfit for each and every dress up day for spirit week [worrying that he would be an outlier- because that somehow would scare him for life… parenting am I right]... you know… because he had about 35 different spirit days in Kindergarten alone! And most importantly I try to ensure that I’m never hiding or diminishing the fact that I am a Christian who loves Jesus and spends Wednesday nights and Sundays at church. I try to make sure that my actions always match my words.[Not that I don’t stumble] That I am  the same person that shows up to church that runs into Walmart, or volunteer’s at my son’s school. And it is so freeing. Let me tell you… when you only have one version of yourself, when you are 100% unapologetically, authentically you, it’s truly something. I want to be able to look in the mirror and truly be proud of who I am and I know when I live my life for the approval of God… he is proud too!
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Love this darling


Your blog entries always seem timely in where I am in life or how I’m feeling. Thank you for bringing me hope.

Leticia Rodriguez

Hilarious, I wish I had known about that first grade episode.


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