My 2023 Word of the Year

Abide. That's my 2023 word. 

It’s not a common word and it’s definitely not popular, but it’s the one I needed this year.  The story of picking this word began as all my past word selections have begun, but asking God to show me what word I needed.   I kept running across the same idea over and over as I waited for Him to plop the word in my lap– ”remain in me.”  It comes from the John 15 passage about the vine and the branches where Jesus makes it pretty clear that we aren’t going to do well if we decide to go off and blaze our own independent, self-made trail.  We will burn out, whither, and eventually perish when we are removed from the source of our heart’s strength. 

What does Abide mean to me?  I’m working from the old English definition of abide which relates to "await," "remain," "lodge," "sojourn," "dwell," "continue," "endure".   When I consider how I want this word to change my mindset, I think about the image of creating a place to dwell and stay.  Not just a temporary set up so I can quickly change my mind and move on, but a committed staying…almost like homesteading.  Picking a permanent place of residing that you can then pass on to your children and grandchildren.  For me, abiding means committing for the long haul.  And instead of actively “going,” I’m actively, intentionally “staying.”  Actively breathing out surrender and submission each morning.  Actively pausing and not jumping into distractions.  Actively setting up my environment so that abiding becomes part of my routine. 

Like I said, it’s not a popular idea, especially in our culture, but this is how I knew it was my word.  I’m learning that leaning into uncomfortable things causes me to grow and my previous words have also prepared me for this doozy of a word.  In perfect God fashion, He brought words into my life that would get me ready for “Abide”.   When I consider where I’ve come from and where He has led me, I’m flabbergasted.   I chuckle when I think of the words I’ve taken upon myself through His guidance.  The words He selected are about relationships. He picked words to grow my heart, not my output, productivity, or network.  It makes abiding with Him an easy “yes.” 

This brings me to an important distinction and that involves my dog, Shadow.  His name is Shadow for a reason.  He follows us around incessantly.  Particularly me.  Shadow knows how to abide, but it’s not a healthy abiding, because it’s all twisted in fear and anxiety and it also is anchored to a faulty source…the Furman family.  We do the same thing with those around us.  We can become obsessive and completely uncomfortable being apart from people who we depend upon or we can become withdrawn and aloof because we fear being hurt.   But abiding in God is different because we were MADE to abide in Him. We don’t annoy God with our closeness or incessant whining because He is the perfect answer to every need we have. When we abide with Him in humility and openness to what He has to say (that listen word again), we receive healing for our weary hearts and strength for all the dysfunction we face in our circumstances and human relationships that were never meant to make us whole.

I’ve got my word piece just about done for “Abide” but I’m planning on utilizing this word in all my work this year.  You’ll feel it and see it in the pieces I create.  I’ll be writing more about how I’m exploring this idea in specific works.  Visual journal entries in this journey of dwelling with God in 2023.   I can’t wait to see what we’ll make together.  Here’s to a year of abiding. 

"Abide" 6 x 6, paper collage and oil on panel.  Available.