How Long It Really Takes to Build your Dream

Lipstick Gospel

I love my little corner of the internet. I love the people who gather here and the stories we tell. I love my readers and I love writing, even if there was nobody reading at all.

But every once in awhile my eyes wander to a platform similar to mine, and I find myself checking them out to see how I measure up.

How in the WORLD does that person have 5,000 twitter followers? What are they doing right?

How does one grow something successful? What does it take to make an impact?

I look at the people I want to be like and wonder how old they are. I want a measuring stick to figure out if I’m behind, or ahead, or (miracle of miracles) right where I should be.

And all of a sudden, under the shadow of comparison, The Lipstick Gospel feels like a shack plopped pathetically in the middle of Beverly Hills.

I’ve been feeling like that a lot recently.

My heart feels divided in this season of my life. On one hand, I want to sprint forward. I want my book to be done now, I want to start something new, try something crazy, work extra late.

And on the other hand I know that there are important things to be done in this season that have nothing to do with writing.

Carl and I are engaged, and we need to be planning our wedding, and even more importantly, our life as we mix ours together.

So part of me says rest, and the other part says run, and I end up caught in the middle feeling like I’m not really doing either quite well.

And in all of this, there’s one piece of advice that’s been standing out above the rest. There’s one thing that comforts me when I feel like I’m failing or falling behind, or like I should be doing more.

“Give yourself 10 years.”

I had the privilege of going to the Storyline Conference in Nashville last October. I sat in the front row, scribbling frantically, as Donald Miller spoke to a small group of writers.

And when someone in the audience expressed a feeling like the one that’s rolling over deep in my soul these days, this is what he said.

“Give yourself 10 years.”

He explained that we want things to happen quickly. We want success right away. We want our words to be read and seen and recognized. And we look at the people around us and wonder why our dreams are taking so long to bloom.

But he said that it takes 10 years to grow something good. It takes 10 years to build something worth standing on.

Maybe it takes even longer because even with thousands of readers, I doubt anyone ever feels like they’ve arrived.

But his point was this: give yourself time.

Giving ourselves time is the antidote to comparison and impatience. It’s the counter-curse to “why isn’t this happening faster”, and “am I right on track?”

It’s the thing that helps us slow down and remember that wherever we are is totally fine, and that we have lots and lots of time to grow.

And the other part of his advice was this: fall in love with the process.

Jeff Goins says this all the time: if you’re writing or painting or singing or working for the accolades, you’re going to end up sorely disappointed.

There will always be someone better, or more popular, or smarter, or more successful than us. A measuring stick will only show us how we come up short.

But if we fall in love with the words on the page, and the rush in our souls as we draw them forth and out, then we’ve made it. If we’ve fallen in love with the craft and not the result then it doesn’t matter how long it takes us to make it, or if we ever even get there.

That’s the truth about good art. It’s made out of abundance and joy, not out of a desire for approval.

The best things were never created for people to love. They were created out of love, and shared with people as the cherry on top.

And that’s the way I love to write—the way that I want to live.

And so in those moments when comparison gets the best of me and I start to peek over the fence at someone else’s garden, I have to remind myself of those two things.

  1. Give yourself 10 years
  2. Fall in love with the process.

Then my little corner of the internet starts to feel like home again, and my heart begins to feel peaceful.

All of a sudden I feel ok, whether I’m planning for my future with Carl, or pounding away at my keys in a flash of inspiration.

It’s ok, because I have time, and because I love the process, whatever it looks like that day.

Have you ever felt small in comparison to someone else? Have you ever felt impatient for your dream to grow? 



  1. Holly says

    This article could not come more timely! I am a freelance makeup artist in NYC . Comparison and disbelief came in strong this week for me. As I found myself with NO jobs this week until Friday and empty time that feels like laziness. I have been seriously praying against the spirit of laziness. It is soly a lie from the enemy these days in my life. It’s always what are you doing now? Why are resting? You should be emailing? These questions are daunting and seem to sincerely suck the life out of me. Yesterday I woke up feeling hopeful and full of GODS JOY! I decided to put my application in for the world race. Huge deal. I felt relieved and excited about God writing my story again! This morning rolls around and their I am again. Trying to figure out the unbalance of my life. I have no routine or schedule. Defeat! I called my dad to talk about the world race and it was a go hour long conversation that had a lot of “buts” and “what ifs”. I got off the phone and saw your article ans read it as I was sobbing and wallowing in tears. HOPE came in after I read your article. Connectedness and an understanding that we are not in this alone! We are the body and we are in this together! To enjoy the process and to love the messy parts of life together! “The best defense is continual communication with God, richly seasoned with thanksgiving.”- Sarah Young

    Anywho! Proud of you for stepping back and realizing that enjoying the process and choosing to give it time :)! Easier said than done! Keep your chin up ans enjoy these moment of life that god has granted us! It was never about numbers but the intentionality of Gods relationships with people! That is what you are doing so don’t let twitter numbers haunt you! You are making an impact!

    Thank you!

    • Stephanie May says

      Thank you so much for sharing Holly! I can’t imagine how frustrating it is to have to wait for jobs, but I applaud you! Absolutely! Also—what a bold move to apply for The World Race. If you end up doing it, you won’t be sorry. It was one of the most wonderful experiences of my whole life (so far.)

      Thank you for your encouragement. Your words warmed my heart.

  2. says

    I have tears rolling down my face right now…I am a new blogger and have found myself so lost in the comparison game that I leave my computer feeling so defeated and inadequate in the blog realm. Thank you for being so open and encouraging. It was a joy to read this post and really was a refreshing breath or fresh air for my soul. Thank you!!! xoxo

    • Stephanie May says

      Oh Rachel, I’m so glad! Keep going. You have a story that people need to hear. Don’t give up. It just takes time.

  3. Michelle Euperio says

    Thank you sooooo much for this. This is something Papa has been speaking to me and then I find myself comparing myself to others and rushing to try to bring fruition to what He said is coming. Sometimes for me, its a lack of faith. Thank you for this blog. Thank you for your constant encouragement.

  4. says

    This was beautiful and exactly the inspiration I needed! I’ve been feeling so anxious lately, trying to grow my blog. While the determination to grow is motivating, I don’t want to burn myself out and lose my passion for it either. :) I always love reading your posts!

  5. nicole says

    For what it’s worth, Stephanie, the Lipstick Gospel is one of the most aesthetically pleasing blogs that I read on a regular basis. I only wish that I knew how to make such an awesome layout! And I love that you write so consistently. You’re doing a great job and I’m sure that you will continue to expand as time progresses. I mean… I tell people about your blog all the time! haha. Keep up the good work! Thanks for your transparency and for inviting us to share in your journey.

  6. Kourtney says

    This is an awesome and much needed post. I get so flustered with what I want to accomplish in life and it’s hard to realize I just need to give myself time. Time for me has always meant giving up so much. “If I don’t get to do this right now or this year then I will never get to do it” and that isn’t true. There is so much we can accomplish if we just give ourselves time. Patience is a virtue and it is one I need to find in myself. Life does not need to be rushed it needs to be enjoyed.

    • Stephanie May says

      “Life does not need to be rushed, it needs to be enjoyed.” I love that! Good word Kourtney!

  7. says

    Thank you for writing this! I, too, feel pressure and defeat and anxiety over building the things I dream about. It’s funny that you would mention the 10 years approach, because I feel like that mentality is exactly what God has been speaking to me lately as well – SLOW DOWN, JUST GIVE IT TIME. Hard to accept in our society of instant gratification and perpetual measuring sticks, isn’t it?

    Your blog is fabulous and I, for one, am a joyful, encouraged reader! Keep it up! :)

    • Stephanie May says

      It is so hard. You’re so right. I’m so glad that you’re getting this message from all sides. That happens to me too. But seriously, there’s no rush.

      Thank you so much! :-)

  8. Kelly wiens says

    Patience… oh that’s a hard one. But good for you for sharing why it’s so important.
    The only thing – the need for patience – doesn’t go away for some of us! I’m a few decades in, and still want things to happen too quickly and too easily.
    Good thoughts, thank you for sharing!

    • Stephanie May says

      Thanks Kelly! I just have to constantly remind myself that if one person is impacted by what I’m doing, even the tiniest bit, that I’ve done what I came to do. Sometimes I just have to zoom in and look at a more micro level to see how big the things are that God is doing. Praying patience and peace for you right now.

  9. says

    Hi Stephanie, thank you so much for sharing. You truly inspire me. I’ve only just decided to be a writer and have started to blog a week ago. Still, I read blogs like yours and I’m on one hand totally encouraged, and in the other, a little intimidated. I want to be it and do it all right now – the books, magazines, conference speaking…all of it. I’m learning to enjoy the process and to take each day as it comes, but in the last few days, I found myself feeling impatient.. Thank you for the timely reminder. Mya x

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