Stephanie is the author of The Lipstick Gospel, which Wonderfully Made posted an excerpt from here. If you haven’t checked out the post, read it now!
Stephanie is a talented author with a beautiful story. Once on the track of becoming a journalist, she found Jesus on a spring break trip when she visited the Sistine Chapel in Rome. After committing her life to Christ she discovered her desire to write as a journalist in a news station shifted to writing stories of God’s people, starting with her own! This Q&A with Stephanie Wilson is just a piece of all that God has done in her life, and we at Wonderfully Made hope it encourages your hearts today!
Could you share how you found God in the Sistine Chapel?
About a year before I met God, I got my heart royally broken. It was the kind of breakup you’re positive you’ll never recover from. It shattered my sense of self, my friend group, my thoughts about my future, everything. I had no idea where to turn.
A few months later, I ended up studying abroad in Spain. I happened to go with my very best friend, and a close friend of hers. While I was definitely not a Christian at the time, they both were, and were incredible examples to me of what a Christian woman looked like.
I really wrestled with my thoughts about faith while we were there. I had a negative view of Christians. They seemed disconnected and judgmental (if I’m being honest). I also didn’t understand who Jesus really was, or why He had anything to do with my life.
That spring break, we decided to do a tour of Italy, starting in Rome. Like all good tourists should, we visited Vatican City, and took a tour of the Sistine Chapel.
I looked up at the ceiling and was appropriately impressed. But just before I turned to leave I caught sight of Michelangelo’s fresco, The Last Judgment. It took up an entire wall at one end of the chapel.
I saw the face of Jesus staring back at me. But it wasn’t just His painted face, I felt like I was looking at the real Him. My heart stopped, I was frozen in place, my thoughts were suddenly still, and my heart felt like it was going to pop right out of my chest. It was a similar feeling to seeing your best friend for the first time in forever. You want to run to them, throw your arms around them, and squeal for good measure.
The only thoughts I could think were that I wanted to know Jesus. I wanted to be friends with Him, I wanted Him to like me.
So without any doubts, or fears, or memory of all the things that had been holding me back, I said the words that transformed my life forever. I said, “Jesus, I’m in. I’m in for this whole Christianity thing.” (Maybe not the holiest way I could have put it, but it still did the trick.)
How do your courses “Finding the Friends You’ve Always Wanted,” “Make the Most of Your Single Life,” and “Become Your Own Best Friend” speak to building a relationship with Christ?
After I became a Christian, very few of my big questions had to do with Christ. I understood the Gospel and was so desperate to receive all that it meant. I cannon balled into grace and haven’t looked back.
The questions I DID have however, had more to do with how to actually apply what I had learned.
I was a Christian yet I was dealing with crippling insecurity. I was a Christian, yet I had no idea how to navigate the space in between “I want a wonderful Christian husband” and “but he hasn’t shown up yet.”
Then, I moved to a new city right after my husband and I got married and found myself without community for the first time ever. I was a Christian, and married, but I was deeply, deeply lonely.
We have big questions as women — big things that we’re wrestling through. And all too often these things — our insecurity, our loneliness, and our frustration about being single—keep us from the total freedom and purpose God has for us.
So my courses have more to do with what’s next. We’re believers, now what? We’re God’s beloveds, but how do we actually let that sink in to the point where insecurity doesn’t have a hold on us anymore?
These are the questions and struggles that so often keep us from the full life God has for us. My courses are a journey of us walking together through some of these things, figuring out what God says about our lives, and how to take Him up on His promises.
If you could say anything to your younger 18-year-old self, what would you say?
This summer my husband and I were speaking to a camp of middle schoolers, and they asked us a similar question. They asked me what I would say to my 13-year-old self, and then they asked my husband what he would say to my 13-year-old self.
I loved his answer so much, I’m going to borrow it here.
He said, “I would say, Stephanie, stop striving so much. Stop working to be perfect, or good enough, or someone else. You don’t have to be in the right place at the right time, or be different, or better. I am going to find you right where you are, and I’m going to love you for exactly who you are. So just be you, and make the world a more beautiful place, and I’ll be there before you know it, and I’ll love you more than you can imagine for exactly who you are.”
I was totally good enough just as I was, and I was worthy of love just as I was, and he was going to love me the way I needed and wanted to be loved when the time was right. I didn’t need to worry or strive as much along the way.
Of course, hindsight is 20/20. But really, what I would tell myself is: Live today like the future is going to work out better than you could have ever imagined. Because it really has.
What words of wisdom could you give our readers of Wonderfully Made about knowing their value in Christ?
Not one single woman on the planet is perfect. The girl you compare yourself to? She’s not perfect. She struggles. She has insecurities, may have a broken heart, has people she compares herself to, and she comes up short just like you do…
I think when we realize that not one single woman in the world does it all, or fully has the life we imagine them to have, it takes such pressure off of us.
It relieves us from the pressure to compete and compare. It helps us have compassion for the women around us. It helps us be on each others’ teams.
Nobody’s perfect, so let’s replace comparison with compassion and walk through this life together. If we could do that, I feel like that would be such an amazing step towards fully living out what it means to know our value in Christ.
Our readers of Know Your Value are in their late teens to twenties. What friendship advice could you give about changing relationships, especially to those moving in and out of college?
There are so many goodbyes that surround our four years of college. Whether it’s you that’s leaving, or your best friend, or your boyfriend, or whether you’re all going to college or finishing up, the goodbyes that surround that season of life are SO heartbreaking.
But the thing I do want you to know is that friendship is still waiting for you on the other side of this transition—whatever transition you’re approaching.
I know old friends always sound SO much better than new ones, but take my word for it: You will meet some of the most wonderful people you can even imagine in this next season of your life…
Do your best to identify the friendships you want to keep for years to come, and do everything you can to be intentional with those friendships… Be intentional and consistent with your communication, and your friendships will go the distance.
At the same time, do your best to open your heart to new friendships. I fully believe one can never have too many best friends. So hold onto the old ones, and open your heart to the new ones.
You’re entering such a beautiful, beautiful season of life; I’m so excited for you!