joanne shih

lettering, illustration, design

day 31: waiting

365 projectJoanne Shih1 Comment
Psalm 130:5 (NIV): "I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope."

Psalm 130:5 (NIV): "I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope."

Well, I finished my first month of lettering! I'm one day behind, but I think I am okay with that. (My current plan is to do day 32 tomorrow morning and day 33 tomorrow night to catch up, but we'll see if I can wake up early...)

I actually picked this verse out in advance (meaning, yesterday) which I hadn't done basically at all up until this point. But this verse jumped out at me as I was reading the psalms for yesterday's lettering, and I knew I wanted to use it for my last one.

As some of you may know, my mom passed away exactly six years ago on April 1st, 2008. It was completely unexpected; I was in the middle of college at MIT (almost exactly halfway through); I was just about to turn twenty. 

It's weird how grief works: emotions come in waves, both small ones and vast, all-encompassing ones that last for days, months, years. I find it so bizarre that it's been six years already. Each year on April 1st I spend the day in various degrees of depression mixed with a lot of reflection, questions for God, and occasionally -- oddly -- a sense of peace and thanksgiving.

This year I find myself with a strange amount of joy. I miss her with an ache that I've become used to, but I am also filled with hope and joy that I will see her again and with the knowledge that she is proud of me and loves me, even if she's no longer here. It's a strange peace, and I'm thankful to have that, at least for today.

I'm the sort of person that remembers dates and keeps track of the amount of time that has passed since significant events occurred. I'm not sure if I've always been like that, or if I became that way when my mom passed away, but in any case.. this year I've been reflecting on the weird symmetry of the past six years. Three years ago (spring of 2011), a few significant things happened: (1) I got baptized, and (2) I met Jon (my husband). It's weird to think that that time three years ago is now the midpoint between now and my mother's death, splitting the Time Since Mom Passed (TSMP) into two distinct phases of life.

(Sidenote: I was remarking about this to Jon earlier when we were walking home from dinner, and I said that I felt like a lot more happened during the first three-year phase, to which he protested in a wounded voice, "But you got MARRIED(!!) in the second half!" )

When I look back at the first phase of TSMP, I remember lots of extreme emotions. I basically fell apart that first year and spent the next couple years attempting to become somewhat of a normal functioning human again. Somewhere along the way, I met God (or He met me.. I probably met Him 20% of the way and He was like, "okay this girl needs some major help") and decided I would try pursuing Him instead of trying to hold my life together by myself, which was clearly not working. To sum up what happened after I made that decision: life was good. Not easy or miraculously all better, but good -- filled with rediscovering joy and growing in faith.

These past three years since I got baptized have been a bit less extreme (which I think says less about this phase and more about how incredibly crazy the previous three years had been). Yes, things were pretty messy and shit hit the fan for sure during that first year after meeting Jon; but my foundation had been laid in that first phase, and even though it's been quite shaky at times (glossing over the details here), I've found time and time again -- particularly through the hard times -- that God is the only constant, the only real thing.

(Also, yes, during this 2nd phase, I got married to my best friend. [Note: basically the first time we met, we called each other our "new best friend", which was incredibly unwise of us at the time as we were both dating other people, but I guess it was wise in the long run...? ] I'm pretty sure this marks the start of a new phase of life, but I haven't experienced it long enough to have fully processed/appreciated what that means yet.)

All this is to say that: I chose this verse because in many ways, I feel like the last six years (and I'm pretty sure all of my remaining years on this earth), with all its craziness and extreme emotions, could be summed up by this act of Waiting. Typically when we think about waiting it seems like a very stationary, almost boring activity. But in this verse, I feel like it captures so much more about the actual nature of waiting -- oftentimes it's filled with much yearning and also much striving. Waiting doesn't have to be passive; you can be active, growing, learning, changing while you wait. I feel like I've grown tons since 2008 and yet have so far to go. And so I wait.

My whole being waits: for that day when all is truly restored, all is made new and perfect. And in the meantime, I put my hope in His word.

PS. This ended up being a lot longer than I thought it would be, but I wanted to go a bit deeper on this last day of my Psalms series and it coincided on a day that bears a lot of weight in shaping who I am so far. I don't normally share so much about this kind of stuff (or not recently at least) so it's a bit scary, but good. Back to normal lettering posts tomorrow :)