Getting Real with Stephanie Wilson"I love God's heart for people, and I love what He's doing in our lives. I love who we get to be for each other and it's a real honor to do His work."
Stephanie May Wilson was your typical twenty-year-old college student struggling to find her own identity and her relationship with God. Through it all, she found guidance from friends, wisdom in literature, and her passion for helping. Stephanie is now an author, blogger, and speaker as she shares her journey in her best-selling novel, “The Lipstick Gospel.”
Through this all-telling story, Stephanie is transparent with her readers and what she went through to find God. She highlights that when you find your faith it’s not always a shiny moment, it’s a reoccurring process
WC: How did you kickstart your career as an author?
Stephanie: It was towards the end of my senior year of college when I went on my first mission trip. I thought that when I got back from the trip that I was going to be a journalist, but that’s not what God had planned for me. When I returned home and started an intense journalism internship, I realized that my drive and passion for journalism was completely gone. It was confusing because it was something that I have loved for years. It was also really scary because I was supposed to graduate from college three months later. So, I was wondering what does God have for me? Because this [journalism] isn’t it. I needed to do something different. As I tried to ask that question, I was offered an internship at the college ministry. The pastor saw something in me. He saw that I needed a transformation in my life, and he knew that I would have a unique perspective to share with women who were two steps behind me. It was during this time that I truly felt God told me that I needed to write a book. It needed to be called “The Lipstick Gospel.” With this book, I would tell women just like me what God is capable of, what He had done in my life so far, and what He continues to do and ultimately what He can do in their lives too.
WC: How has your view of Christianity in particular, Christians, changed since becoming one?
Stephanie: My view of Christianity has changed a lot from getting to be inside it. When I think about this question, I picture going to another country or someone coming to the United States who’s never been there before, they’re going to have ideas of what Americans are like and the ideas they have may come from a movie, or the one American they met one time, or what people have told them. That’s where my idea about Christianity came from.
My opinions of Christianity and Christians weren’t really opinions of my own. Getting inside of Christianity and being a part of it is just getting to know God. God is so much more than I gave him credit for. Are you even allowed to say that about God? But it’s true, I had no idea how big He is. I had no idea how good He is, and I had no idea how adventurous and intimate He is. I had no idea all the things that God was until I got to know him which is how it is with anybody.
There are Christians all over the world who love Jesus in beautiful, unique ways and who worship Him in ways that are different from the way that we do. There are people right down our street that worship him differently because they are different and their perspective and skills are different.
Christians are so much more than I realized they were. The thing that’s been cool is that when I finally realized that to be a Christian wasn’t this one-size-fits-all pair of pants you had to all put on, there was room for me, and there was room for the way that God made me. I didn’t have to check my heart at the door. I got to come in as me and He would love me, and that there was a place for me. It’s changed a lot and that’s really in my heart with everything I do and the people in my life, is wanting to be an example of that as well but whole Christians aren’t alike, and there’s room for every personality.
WC: What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned from being open about your life in a novel?
Stephanie: God is so faithful to us, and He is capable of meeting us in the messiest of situations. I think that’s something that makes me feel braver in sharing my story and just being honest about where I am. The thing I’ve learned over the last few years is that we are so much the same. Whether we are thirteen years old or ninety-three, we all are wondering where we fit, we all feel insecure in our skin sometimes, and we all want to be loved. We are all asking the same questions as women, so I think that initially, I felt nervous to be honest about where I was until I started looking around and realizing, “I know I’m not the only one feeling this.”
WC: What advice would you give your twenty-year-old self?
Stephanie: Surround yourself with better people. I wish I learned that lesson a lot earlier. Throughout my entire life– high school, college, and even in my adulthood, I found myself having some wonderful friends. They are in my corner, love me no matter what, and are always there for me. I used to spend a lot of time with people who weren’t a great influence or who just weren’t very kind. They made me feel like I had to change who I was, and I didn’t feel supported or loved. Who we surround ourselves with deeply impacts every area of our lives. It impacts the way we feel about ourselves, our relationships, and our faith. So, I think if my twenty-year-old self had been only surrounded by really great friends who truly loved her, all the other pieces of my life would have been easier.
WC: In “The Lipstick Gospel,” you write, “The words and ideas get stuck in our head and never traveled down to the places we need it, making God and Jesus in the Bible good principles and nice ideas but never anything that changes us.” What do you mean by this?
Stephanie: The thing that has made the biggest difference in helping me find my relationship with God is that the words had to travel from my head down to my heart where I needed them. We do a lot in our lives, not just as believers, but just as humans to make our lives as comfortable as possible. And there’s some wisdom to that, but I think we avoid stepping out of our comfort zones. We almost get too comfortable in our daily routines. Though we read God’s words, we’re not acting on them. We need to get out of our comfort zones and challenge ourselves. We can’t just rely on ourselves; we have to rely on God. Our God is wild and adventurous, and if we don’t see that, we get stuck.
WC: You talk about your breakup with an old boyfriend in your novel, and you refer to it as being at a low point of despair and brokenness. You said you felt you hit rock bottom, but it’s what you needed to find your new life. Do you believe that people have to reach that point before they can truly admit to themselves that they need God?
Stephanie: I think so. It’s different for everybody, but what people don’t know is that when everything is broken, God has something up his sleeve. It’s often in the moments when we feel the most lost, the most broken, or the most devastated that we reach out to Him. It’s because we don’t know that we need him until those moments. In a lot of ways, I’m grateful that I went through that breakup because I don’t think I would know God the way I do now.
WC: Looking back on that time in your life, do you think God was bringing you to that point for a reason?
Stephanie: Yes and no. I have a really hard time believing that God causes hurt in our lives. I could see Him being like, “I’m going to step in here. Let me help you out here.” I have a hard time believing that God is behind the scenes puppet mastering the worst season of my life. I do know that He was there walking next to me during it and bringing people alongside to help. I now know He was there a long time before I even realized He was.
WC: What was your favorite chapter to write in “The Lipstick Gospel?”
Stephanie: It was the story of my friends and in Rome, and I met Jesus in the Sistine Chapel. Everything in my life led up to that moment. I love getting to tell the story more in full because it was a moment absolutely undeniable. It wasn’t a small whisper in my heart; it was like I was stopped my track. My friends and I were recovering from a pub crawl the night before when we visited the Vatican, and that’s the moment that God chose to speak to me. It’s my favorite [chapter] because I gave up face to face with Jesus in the Sistine Chapel.
WC: What is your mission nowadays?
Stephanie: To help the younger generation navigate and thrive in their most important moments and their relationships with God. When we have a better relationship with God, our relationship with ourselves improves. It’s my mission, and it’s something I love to do. I love God’s heart for people, and I love what He’s doing in our lives. I love who we get to be for each other and it’s just a real honor to get to do His work.