By Lori Stanley Roeleveld
My journey of building healthy relationships with other women has been a long one. Growing up in the sixties and seventies, most of what I experienced from other women, even in my own home, was competition, comparison, and cattiness. No matter how I tried, I didn’t feel I fit in or understood their language.
I wasn’t athletic enough for sports or cute enough for cheerleading, so I didn’t experience teams. Somehow, I was unable to decode how other women made friends, collaborated, or built mutual trust. Being studious, overweight, and serious about Jesus didn’t make me popular with the boys either, so I felt invisible. Like many others, I carried this sense of invisibility into adulthood. Even though I began a relationship with Jesus as a child, I wondered if my existence or my choices mattered to anyone else. Many of my young adult sinful choices and mistakes were driven by this misconception.
Over the years though, through His Word, the work of the Holy Spirit, and relationships with healthy, godly women, God healed those wounds and addressed the issue of my significance. Speaking to and ministering to women now, I encounter again and again others with that same sense of invisibility, of not fitting in, of falling short, of missing the mark, or of being overlooked—maybe even by God. And it doesn’t matter if these women are seated in the back of the room or are standing behind the podium. I’ve discovered that a sense of invisibility or insignificance can strike any of us. The desire of my heart is to help women see the absolute truth that they matter.
Our greatest problem is not that we’re insignificant, but that our significance is hidden from us. The enemy, our sins, and the sins of others all conspire to keep us in the dark about how profoundly each of us impacts other lives. My topic for our by design retreat in April 2024 will be Lasting Impact: The Graceful Influence of Every Woman. The power each of us wields to affect the lives of those around us—forever—is undeniable, but we miss it when we look in the wrong mirror. In the mirror of God’s Word, we’ll see the truth about how our choices are already influencing others.
As I do in my new book, Graceful Influence: Making a Lasting Impact through Lessons from Women of the Bible, I’ll use a little imagination, a lot of humor, and the stories of several women from Scripture to explore what we often miss about our inevitable impact on those around us. We’ll also see God’s relentless work to redeem even our sinful choices and to remind us we are never unseen. Some of the women we’ll consider during the weekend are Eve, Mary, Deborah, Jezebel, and the woman with the alabaster jar.
My goal is to impact how we women see ourselves, each other, and the women who have gone before us. And how we talk about our successes and our sins. I believe we all owe Martha an apology. No human was ever created to serve solely as a sermon illustration. Why are we tempted to continually pit Martha against her sister Mary? No one has ever written a book titled “Don’t Be a Peter, Be a John.”
Rather than divide women into villains and saints, bad or good girls, we can see ourselves as the unique and much-loved creations of the God who alone bestows true significance on us. We will see that each of us makes wrong choices, but that God is aways ready to help us make choices that lead toward Him, not away, no matter where we find ourselves.
I take God and His Word very seriously; myself, not so much. My hope is that we’ll come away from this weekend refreshed from much laughter, revitalized by His truth, and renewed in hope for ourselves and for those we serve. If you’ve ever struggled to feel like you “fit in” with other women, this is your weekend. If you’ve always felt comfortable in the company of women, you’ll have an opportunity to deepen that experience. I can’t wait to meet you all.
The by design annual Leadership ReTREAT will take place April 19-21, 2024, at Singing Hills in Plainfield, NH. We hope you will join us! More information coming soon.
Lori Stanley Roeleveld is a blogger, speaker, coach, and disturber of hobbits who enjoys making comfortable Christians late for dinner. She has authored four award-winning books, with a fifth in the works. She speaks regularly at women’s events and retreats across the country. Though she has degrees in psychology and biblical studies, Lori’s learned the most from studying her Bible in life’s trenches. She speaks her mind at loriroeleveld.com
Lori is also one of our featured speakers in the by design Speakers Directory. If you are looking for a Christian speaker for your special event, please visit our online directory or contact us to request a hard copy.