3 Unexpected Results from a Year of Abiding

Abide: “To remain stable or fixed in a state.” 

While this definition of “abide” doesn’t really cast it in a very attractive light, this is the state of being I attempted to maintain for the year.  Mainly in a spiritual sense, but also relationally and artistically.    Once I started working on it in one area of my life, it started showing up everywhere.   

What did it look like, abiding, for a year?  Here's 3 things that showed up pretty consistently in this journey…

Rest:  A couple ways that I integrated this idea into my spiritual life for the year was through following God’s design for work by setting aside one day a week for rest.  This was such a scary thing to do, but consistently setting aside one day a week changed how I viewed my time and my identity.  Rest is good and there is time for it.  And I am not the summation of my work or productivity. 

Obedience:  Abiding also looked a lot like obedience.  Just doing and saying the things He made clear to me.  Asking for forgiveness, reaching out to someone He put on my mind, laying down the balls I was juggling that He never gave me in the first place.  Waiting, being generous with trust, giving up things I had become addicted to, etc.  

Presence:  I get stuck in my head a lot and usually in regard to what is coming.  This often causes me to zone out during  real time conversations and moments and to not hear the words being presented because I’m already 5 topics ahead.  Part of abiding in my relationships has looked like being present.  Being aware of my tendencies to zone out and create practices that help me stay more in the moment, like shifting my body so that I’m able to focus on the person I’m conversing with, repeating what I’m hearing, putting my phone in a different part of the house, adjusting my schedule to make room for presence during car rides, pick ups, drop offs, etc.  

Nothing stupendously new or different is going on, it is simply a heart orientation that I’m seeking to keep and the results of a year of abiding have been unexpected.  

Here’s what I thought the results would look like: 

–instant, all encompassing peace and joy

–easy obedience and character cultivation

–less stress and easier relationships

Here’s what actually resulted: 

–shared joy, shared sorrow, companionship in the turmoil

–hard fought obedience from a place of worship as opposed to performance

–deeper relationships that weigh heavy on my heart and draw me into deeper abiding with Jesus

Do you see how my expectations were very one dimensional and tended on the shallow side, but what I experienced was far richer and dynamic? I had good things in mind, but God had greater things. 

Three unexpected practices (rest, obedience, and presence) leading to three very rich results. 

I’ve seen this play out in my work this year too.  It’s grown up.  It’s nuanced, has richer, darker values, and it has a slightly brooding feel to it that reflects the tension from the full range of thoughts and emotions that spill from my soul.  This year end collection shares snippets of my journey in abiding and what I’ve learned a lot the way and what was challenging.  Sometimes the stories are about walking with my boys and my husband.  Sometimes they are about walking with my friends. Some are about my experience in walking with God rather than running ahead of Him.  And all of these experiences have brought about the result of learning to abide with myself.  

 I have so much more to learn and so far to grow, but I’m so thankful for what this year in abiding has taught me.   While I might not use abide as my word this year, the act of remaining at a walking pace with my loved ones will continue.  

The entire "Abide Collection" will be released one painting at a time from December 1st - 25th, 2023  as part of the 25 Days of Minis Program.