Friday, February 11, 2022

My Personal Rule of Life - Abiding

“A good rule can set us free to be our true and best selves. It is a working document, a kind of spiritual budget, not carved in stone but subject to regular review and revision. 
It should support us, but never constrict us.”

- MARGARET GUENTHER

So today, as promised, I'm going to begin breaking down my Rule of Life and giving you an idea of what that looks like day-to-day, week-to-week, and month-to-month. But before I begin, let me say this, paraphrased from the Rule of Life Workbook.

A rule of life is a schedule and set of practices and relational rhythms that help us create space in our lives to be with Jesus, become like Jesus, and do what Jesus did—to live “the abundant life” that Jesus spoke of in John 10:10. It is important to note that it is a "rule" (singular), not "rules" (plural), and therefore it is not a list of requirements or regulations for one to follow, but rather a standard by which one may choose to live. A rule of life aligns us with the kingdom, and with our deepest passions and priorities. It’s been said that we achieve inner peace when our schedule is aligned with our values. A rule of life is simply a tool to that end. Rather than a rigid, legalistic to-do list, it’s a life-giving structure for freedom, growth, and joy. I mentioned this yesterday, but the word "rule" is actually derived from the Latin word regula, meaning "trellis". So in the same way that a vine needs a trellis, we need a rule as a support structure to organize our life around “abiding in the vine,” (John 15:1-8) as Jesus imagined. 

There is also no right or wrong way to develop a rule. There are best practices, but as we are each created uniquely with different temperaments and gifts, there is no "one-size-fits-all" approach.  It can be as simple or as elaborate you as you want.  The best advice I can give is to consider your temperament, giftedness, season of life, level of spiritual growth, and above all, to start small. Even as I share the elements of my personal rule, there are some aspects of it that I have not fully integrated yet. Some things are easier, and some take more effort, as it will be for all of us, and that's ok. It is also every changing, and it will grow and change with you. You may find that while something sounds good on paper, that it isn't flowing as you thought it would. In that case, it might be wise to stick with it for awhile and see if it becomes easier. You might, will need to tweak it here and there. But there may also be times when a certain component just isn't working and you need to ditch it all together and try something new. If any part of your rule ever begins to feel forced and is becomes something that you do rather than flowing from who you are, that's a sure sign that you need to rethink it. Yes, some things are going to be hard and take more effort, but at some point as you grow, it should flow, and the "effort" should become less.

So let's begin to break this down, and again (I feel like a broken record), this is my personal journey and what works for me. I hope you are inspired by it, but if you were to just take this and try to copy and paste it into your life, it probably won't work out as well for you. :)

ABIDE
Webster's 1828 Dictionary define's the word abide this way;

1. To rest, or dwell. (Genesis 29:19)

2. To tarry or stay for a short time. (Genesis 24:55)

3. To continue permanently or in the same state; to be firm and immovable. (Psalms 119:90)

4. To remain, to continue.  (Acts 27:31. Ecclesiastes 8:15)

The word "abide" is found 76 times throughout the Bible, the most familiar of which is John 15:4, "Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me."

So what exactly does it mean to abide? Let's take a look at what Dallas Willard has to say on the subject.

“The first and most basic thing we can and must do is to keep God before our minds... This is the fundamental secret of caring for our souls. Our part in thus practicing the presence of God is to direct and redirect our minds constantly to Him. In the early time of our 'practicing' we may well be challenged by our burdensome habits of dwelling on things less than God. But these are habits—not the law of gravity—and can be broken. A new, grace-filled habit will replace the former ones as we take intentional steps toward keeping God before us. Soon our minds will return to God as the needle of a compass constantly returns to the north. If God is the great longing of our souls, He will become the pole star of our inward beings.”

— DALLAS WILLARD 

This quote moves my soul in a deep place every time I read it. To think of my mind constantly and naturally returning to center, God, and for my heart to so long for Him that He becomes my pole star. This is one of the reasons why I, personally, have issues with the idea of a "quiet time"/"slot and a spot". For me, at least, spending time with/abiding with Jesus is less about a small percentage of my life that I set aside for Him, as it is about a lifestyle lived continuously in His presence.

I can hear you thinking, "Ok, Kim, but no one thinks about Jesus 24/7." and I get that. But it's also not enough, for me at least, to wake up and crack open my bible, say a prayer and then go on with my day often in complete forgetfulness of everything I just read, which was often the case when I operated on the daily quiet time model.

So as I was considering what I desired "abiding" to look like in my life, I decided that what would help me would be to have constant reminders in place, both on a daily, weekly and even quarterly and annual basis.

Abiding Daily 
- I abide daily by setting aside time for Silence and Solitude.
Right now I devote 10-15 minutes of my morning, usually first thing, to sitting in silence and making myself open to hear from God. I begin with a few minutes of breath prayer, YH - breathe In,  WH - breathe out, and then move into silence. Some days I hear from Him and it is obvious, others I may not think I received anything. But it very often in those cases that later in the day or the week something will come up in a conversation and I realize that very thing came to mind during my time of silence. The Holy Spirit was preparing me. When that happens, it gives me goosebumps.

To learn more about breath prayer, here are a few links;
- Breathing Yah Weh - Richard Rohr

- I read Psalm 91 and Psalm 16 every-single-day. These two Psalms are what I refer to as "My Life Psalms" given to me by the Holy Spirit on two different occasions in my life that was undeniable. I'm working on memorizing both of them, but that has never been my strong suit. Not an excuse, and I am training!

- I spend time in the word, usually through an online sermon or if I'm in a hurry, from The Bible App, every day.

- I read my affirmation cards, daily. This is a practice that I developed after listening to the series, Winning the War In Your Mind by Craig Groeschel. 

- I observe the Daily Office. This alone needs to be a separate post, but for now I'll just provide you with a few links to give you a general idea. It's basically set times (I have alarms set on my phone) that I set aside each day to pray. I love this, but if I'm being honest, it's an area I'm struggling in. It's not so much the habit, but with the prayer itself. I have times set aside for more specific prayer so I'd like for these prayers to be simpler, the same, perhaps? There purpose serves more as being that compass that always returns me to center than for the prayer itself. That being said, I find the prayers designated for these times (which can be found across the internet and in The Book of Common Prayer), to be beautiful.


Abiding Weekly
- I abide weekly by observing the Eucharist (Lord's Supper) and the Stations of the Cross, on Friday afternoon. This is a practice that I've fallen out of step with but still very much desire to continue.  I've made it a goal to return to it during Lent and as such I'll write a more detailed post around that time. However, if you're interested now, I'll provide a few links.



- I attend a live or online worship service every Sunday. Not much different from what I do daily, but I do try to join a live service when I can.

- I do a Weekly Examen.
Since I'm really just trying to highlight things today, once again I'll go into this in more detail in a separate post.  But for now you can learn more about the Weekly Examen, here.

Abiding Quarterly or Seasonally
There are several ways that I abide quarterly, or more appropriately, seasonally. 

- I set aside the day of the Equinox (Spring / Autumn), and the Solstice (Winter / Summer) as special, with traditions and rituals that bless and celebrate each one.

- I observe The Ember Days.
I've written on this before, but I may elaborate on it more in an upcoming post. For now, if you want to know more, the link above will get you started.

- I set aside one weekend per quarter for a retreat at home.
This is another practice that could use some dedication to seeing it through. Though I have done this periodically, I tend to be more devoted to it during autumn and winter. Perhaps its because I observe it around the time of the changing of the seasons, and since the autumn equinox and winter solstice are my favorites. I have more traditions and things that I enjoy doing during these times.  This indicates that I need to look at establishing traditions for spring and summer. 

Abiding Annually
- The primary way that I abide continuously throughout the year is by the observance of The Year of the Lord, or The Liturgical Year, which begins at Advent and ends in Ordinary Time. I have this listed as annual because it follows a full yearly rotation, but the various feast days fill my life weekly.

- I set aside a special night every year, usually in the week between Christmas and the New Year for "Tabula Rasa: A Clean Slate", which is something I learned about from Sarah Ban Breathnach in her book, Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy. It's a special time when I reflect on the year that has passed and the one to come. I set or review my goals, which is now my rule. I print out my calendars for the upcoming year and organize my planner, making note of birthdays, anniversaries, etc. It's one of my favorite observances and I look forward to it every year. Traditionally I will make a circle of twelve candles, one for each month in the year, with a larger candle in the middle to represent the coming year. At the end of the observance I light each one, slowly, and pray over each of the coming months and finally over the year as a whole. This is also when I proclaim my "word of the year", which I alway know ahead of time, but from this day and going forward I begin intentionally living into it. My word for 2022, is Yearn.

- I set aside a night or a weekend each year to get alone by myself.
Of all the elements of my rule, this is the one that I have yet to execute, but this year I'm going to sincerely try to make it happen, maybe late summer/early autumn? I'll have to think on this a little more, I might even just go away for the day but be back in time to sleep at home. Call me crazy, but I don't like paying for hotels, all that $$$, just to sleep! I'd rather camp, but I'm also not going camping by myself! So as you can see, this one is going to require a little thought. 

Things I'd Like To Add
I just noticed this when I linked the Weekly Examen and I think it's something I might add to Tabula Rasa.

Learn more about Centering Prayer and Welcoming Prayer and incorporate it.

Abiding is actually one of the easiest elements of the rule for me. I thrive on worship and love learning more and more about the Bible and becoming more like Christ, so this element flows pretty naturally for me. Other than tweaking a few things here and there and incorporating and in some cases reincorporating some of the practices into my routine, I feel confident in this area more than a few others, which I'll be discussing in the days to come. At some point I'll also break this down even further and discuss specific resources that I use, so if you're interested I hope you'll continue to show up here and join me!

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