Starting Selah: Heartbreak & Grace

Posted by Sarah Shin on

Hi and welcome - officially - to my new website and business, Selah Paper. I am beyond excited to share this corner of my heart with you all. I know the title is a little dramatic… but so is life sometimes! In this blog post, I’m sharing the back story on how Selah got/is getting started. It’s about to get real personal but I am grateful that I can share this with you.

For five years, I’ve been doing calligraphy more like a side hustle and hobby. I’ve done wedding invites for my friends, designs for my church, and lots of Instagram doodles for my own pleasure and practice. It’s been wonderful. I’ve grown in my faith and met many cool creatives, calligraphers, and sisters in Christ. (By the way, thank you to those who have followed my journey since Day 1! I’ve been so blessed by the community). During all this growth, I also worked a totally different day job. I was a senior associate at Coactuate, a strategic design consultancy. I have a Master’s degree in Biomedical Communications and so my role in the company was to help develop robust and winning strategies in the science-loving, research-heavy world of pharma using design methodologies. I worked with passionate people and got to tackle epic challenges every single day.

It was hard balancing two “careers” that I loved so much. I deprioritized calligraphy as I got busier at work. In the summer of 2019, my husband Alex and I got pregnant with our first baby. Thoughts of the future weighed heavily on me and I decided to invest more into my future in consulting. It felt like the right thing to do; I put my calligraphy career on hold.

Alex and I had a wonderful autumn and holiday season with my growing belly. We prayed each night for our baby and began collecting little dreams about our family. We celebrated New Years Eve and thanked God for 2019 and all His blessings. But life is so unexpected and so hard sometimes. On the morning of January 1, 2020, I went to the ER with a stomach ache and later went into labour to deliver our stillborn son, Lucas Mateo. We held his tiny, five-month-old body before saying goodbye. He gave us the best five months of our lives.

How do I summarize the most painful and hopeful season of my life in a few paragraphs?

We were so deep in sadness, but we never reached despair. God sustained us. We experienced immense hope amidst immense grief and we waited until our sorrow would turn into joy. We cried less and less as each week passed. We began to see more friends and more of our community. I spent my days journalling, praying, and reading some great books on grief. We packed up our apartment and moved out of the city to the suburbs (Mississauga, my heart!) where I grew up. Then, I quit my job and decided to begin Selah Paper.

The beginnings of Selah Paper is so personal. I’m not sure if I like that. It feels so out of my control and so far from the 2020 that I had imagined. I always thought that if I ever started a company, I would have a perfectly executed business plan. But life just isn’t so. God used heartbreak to show me His grace. It was truly in the season of mourning that I saw (clearer than ever) that God is GOOD. Like… really good. And during the long days that made up January and February, he revealed my own heart to me. He birthed new dreams in me when I had just lost my greatest one. I realized a few things: 1. I want to start my own business, 2. I want to share more of God’s Word with Toronto and beyond, and 3. I want to work with my hands and make beautiful art. And now is the time to try it.

It’s only been two months. Yes, everything is still fresh and the future is quite blurry. Leaving my job has given me the freedom of time and space to think about Selah Paper. I feel extremely blessed but also overwhelmed and anxious sometimes. There’s so much I don’t know. I think about why I left my well-paying job and wonder how I will ever be able to make a living off my calligraphy. But then I remember how God is sustaining me through life so faithfully and so tenderly. Everything will be alright.

So… that is the story! Selah Paper is God’s grace in my life and a testimony of His faithfulness.

My hope is to launch my website shop and first products in May but for now, feel free to follow along with me! Thank you for reading my story!

Business Faith Personal

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