The first time Michelle Rohner heard about SMASH, Kensington’s all-female retreat, she admittedly thought, “That’s too much estrogen in one place.”
“A lot of women could be turned off by the idea of 600 women gathered in one place,” Michelle said, who is now attending SMASH for the fourth year.
The apprehension and angst Michelle felt about a women’s’ retreat originated from her experience attending an all-girls high school where she grew up in South Africa. Like many young girls, she was frustrated by the amount of drama that perspired out of female friendships. During the middle school years, cliques form, and girls often experience their first real dose of exclusionary and gossipy behaviors.
Michelle said that as young girls, we learn that exposing ourselves and being vulnerable with females can leave wounds. Those feelings of mistrust tend to never leave us, unless we debunk prior beliefs of judgement and betrayal.
“As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized female relationships don’t need to take me into a place of comparison, but to a place of building and encouraging each other,” she said.
Proverbs 27:17 tells us, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” For Mish, the sharpening happened once she let herself pursue deep connections with other women without the fear of getting hurt.
“God never designed for us to live in isolation,” she said. “He designed a special bond between women. If you look at how God created women, we are social and emotional. We need that connection.”
Her first all-girls weekend
The first SMASH retreat she attended was her first year living in America. She didn’t know many people, didn’t know what SMASH was all about, and certainly was not prepared to lead worship in front of 600 women.
Her best friend Jess came with her, who had just recently lost her brother and was in a low place in her faith.
Nervous for what her friend would experience on the weekend, all of Michelle’s preconceived notions were instantly pushed aside when the girls in her cabin devoted their weekend to helping Jess heal.
“They didn’t know her from a bar of soap,” said Michelle laughing, realizing that idiom was very “South Africa.”
“But they took her in,” she said. “They skipped sessions and workshops to just let her cry.”
Since that first SMASH over five years ago, Michelle still sees the impact it has on Jess’s life.
“It had a huge impact on my life, too,” she said. “I learned that women can be a safe and comfortable outlet. A group of women can be encouraging and supportive if you let them in.”
During her grown from guarded to vulnerable, it has become Michelle’s passion to build and unite women.
“I’m excited to explore the idea of finding joy and unity in our female relationships with the ladies at smash 2019,” she said.
For Michelle, there is no such thing as “too much estrogen.”
Bring on the estrogen,” she said, jokingly. “There’s something beautiful that can happen when we realize we are in this together. We are on the same team!”
Come relax and refill at this ladies-only weekend! Hear from speakers, kayak on the lake, chat ’round the campfire, ride a horse, or sit in the sun. Come solo, or grab a friend and register now at kensingtonchurch.org/smash