Create a Life You Love

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I'm Stephanie May Wilson!

I'm an author and podcaster and my specialty is helping women navigate big decisions, life transitions — creating lives they love.

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My worst days exist within the confines of my mind – trapped and bouncing around like a bird who just lost her freedom.

I’ve always prided my mind on being a glowing source of good things – stirring up love and grace and beauty and spilling over for others to share. I thought I was strong and that my joy could get me out of any situation – no matter how hard or locked up.

But that’s not always true these days. Big questions and high stress and a combination of a million other factors sometimes leave me in the dark – clawing for a way out but unable to find light.

They generally don’t have a solid shape, these doubts and fears and insecurities. They’re hard to explain and therefore hard to get out of—infecting me like a slow leak with anxiety.

They suck the light away from my world, and the joy from within my heart. They show up and convince me that my world isn’t good enough and that I’m certainly not good enough in it.

Doubt and fear and shame and worry are the tapes that play over and over in my mind, making my eyes bleary and unreliable windows through which to see my world and myself inside of it.

And in those moments, I just want to climb out. I want to be able to smile, a big, happy smile, and to see the joy and beauty and love that’s sprinkled throughout my world. But in the hardest moments, I find myself completely incapable of finding light.

I wonder, in my darkest moments, if I’ve always been this way. And in even darker moments, I wonder if I’m stuck this way forever, trapped beneath the weight of my spinning thoughts, and deep, earth-quaking worry.

I love telling stories, and unabashedly prefer stories of victory. My favorite kinds are the ones where God shows up and saves the day – especially in the moments where the situation is the most dire.

I like neat stories – ones that resolve with a fully understood lesson at the end. I like stories that wrap up quickly, that don’t leave you hanging for more than a well-placed breath.

I don’t like the story in between.

I don’t like waiting for the rescue, and not being able to repair it on my own. I don’t like problems that are outside of my control, or situations that can’t be cured with a dash of positive thinking. And that’s why I have such a hard time with the story I’ve spent the last several months writing.

This is the story of a woman who does not have it all together – the story of a beauty-chasing optimist that some days can barely breathe under a pile of negativity and fear.

It’s the story of learning to trust God all over again, especially with the moments that seem so big and so scary.

It’s the story of asking God to come to my rescue. And it’s the story of waiting and the process in between.

I don’t know why this season has been so hard, but it has.

I’m doing everything I can – praying and repeating what’s true, replacing my ‘what ifs’ with ‘what IS’ at ever turn. I'm doing my best while I wait for the victory that I know is coming, and insisting that joy has to be around her somewhere – even when it feels impossible to find.

We go through seasons, you and I. We have days that feel like victory is parading through our minds with floats and confetti. We also have days that feel dark and scary, with death at every turn.

But regardless of the season, God is good. God is good and victory is near. Even and especially when it doesn’t feel like it.

Where do you need to see victory in your life? What do you do in your darkest moments? 

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  1. melanie says:

    i SO understand. it has been a difficult season for me as well. thank you for writing this.

  2. ellehaney says:

    Seriously. AWESOME, Stephanie. And the season of gray will make the seasons of full color that much brighter and gloriously overwhelming, yes?

    • Stephanie says:

      Thank you Elle! I love, love, love that. “The season of gray will make the seasons of full color that much brighter and gloriously overwhelming.” That’s beautiful!

  3. weakestreed says:

    Brave and very, very relatable. Thank you.

  4. Rachel G says:

    A lot of this resonated with me. Especially loved and will be remembering the line “replacing my ‘what ifs’ with ‘what IS’ at every turn.” Thanks for writing and sharing this.

  5. Jerry Powell says:

    Dark days are tough! May God reveal to you His light that you may rejoice again!
    Last night I attended the last Annex of the season and Bill’s last Annex. It was such a great message and one for you, too, I’m sure. I pass along a couple of thought/verses. Deut 33:27 – “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms. He will drive out your enemies before you, saying, ‘Destroy them!'” Bill repeated God’s words to him throughout different events in his 14 years of ministry here – “I will be with you”. So do not remain in the dark, Steph, God will be (and is) with you. Blessings to you as you seek Him in the light.

  6. Dennie says:

    I used wonder what if i am stuck this way forever, and the Dr says this is probable. I worry about it and even though i’m ok at the moment. I worry about going back to the dark place. I won’t let my “bad brain” win though. That’s what it wants. Everyday is a battle, some are harder than others. And then some days when you feel the sun on your face you know it’s worth fighting for.

    • Stephanie says:

      You’re right. Every day is a battle and some are harder than others. But it absolutely is worth fighting for. Thank you for sharing Dennie. I’m praying light over you right now!!

  7. Oh how I don’t like the in-between either. Who wants to wait? love you girl

  8. Dawn Muench says:

    Oh Steph. Isn’t there SOME way we could have coffee?? I want to give you a hug and take notes on how to express myself as honestly and beautifully as you do. There is great great power in naming those times and calling them out- the light cracks in when we unfurl and tap on the dark glass of the cage of those times that are so disorienting!!
    And I LOVE what ellehaney said below too!

    • Stephanie says:

      I wish we could!! You’re so sweet Dawn. Such an encouragement to me. I love this “There is great power in naming those times and calling them out.” You’re absolutely right. 🙂 all my love!!

  9. Erika says:

    Wow. I really appreciate this. I’m coming out of my version of dark days, when I felt like I didn’t think I could be happy ever again… and so I can really appreciate this.

    I’m not sure if this will matter or make sense to you, but have you ever taken the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator? Everything I read about you, all of your words, make me think that you are an ENFP. The reason I bring it up is because I found a lot of solace in a book I read called “Was that really me?” It’s about how our journey of growth requires individuation — which means learn to incorporate our “shadow” side. It sounds more sinister than it is — our shadow is just kind of our opposite side… our inferior way of functioning. Until we understand how to deal with our opposite side, we’re considered “in the grip.” Where we feel like a completely different person to ourselves. I share this with you because it shares strategies, as well as descriptions of what it sounds like you are going through and what I went through as well.

    It’s probably not any consolation to say, it’s something you just have to find your way through… especially when I understand that, like you, I like beginnings and ends but middles not so much. But do know that it’s taking you through a journey where you can be even brighter, have a hope and a joy that is stronger and more resilient even in the face of INTERNAL wars, and a greater understanding of life and the way it works so that you can help more people be set free. You’re going through this because you can handle it, because you were MADE for it, because you have so many gifts to help others.

    But I know it can be hard if you’re always the one encouraging others but not being encouraged yourself. So, I just say, thank you for being honest. Thank you for being vulnerable. Thank you for opening up. This is all a part of the plan and it will make sense in retrospect, as so many things with God do. Keep the faith, but also sit with the doubt. Accept it. Try not to judge it, but just let it be. And keep going, even if you don’t like it. They say that “pain is wishing for the world to be different than it is.” Sometimes acceptance of our feelings being less than what we want them to be is the key to moving through a dark stage such as this one. You’re not alone, at least. Thanks for opening up.

  10. Catherine says:

    Waiting is the worst – especially when you’re not exactly sure what you’re waiting for. When I feel that darkness, it’s such a balance between admitting the hardness of the feeling/situation, and then turning and reminding myself that God is Good. Haven’t quite got the balance right yet!

  11. Janelle says:

    Thank you for writing this, Stephanie. It’s so good to know that we’re not alone in these struggles. You are a wonderful light to all your readers!

  12. I can so relate to this. I am the type of person who tries to take on everything myself and it’s so hard for me to give things up that aren’t in my control. I’d rather squirm and fight and battle it out and work for everything. Lately, however, God has been persistent in telling me, “Amy, lay it down. This not your battle.” It’s been hard to surrender to this, but I know it’s worth it. Keep giving this time in the middle over to God. I go to Northpoint, Andy Stanley’s church, and he talked about the 700-year gap between the Old Testament and New Testament and all of the things in history that happened during that time that laid the groundwork for Jesus’s birth and time on earth. Andy talked about how, even though many of God’s people began to give up in God’s silence, God was working behind the scenes and making things happen that no one would recognize until years later. I think our times of “in between” in life, God is laying the groundwork for the next part of our lives and where we think He has abandoned us or is no longer listening, we will see later on how everything fell into place for us. He may seem silent or distant, but He’s there and He’s working to prepare you and me for what lies ahead. 🙂

  13. I don’t like the waiting… but the longer the wait, the more dramatic the rescue. thank you for the much needed reminder 🙂

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