Today’s guest post by Beverly Weber is a review of Humble Roots: How Humility Grounds and Nourishes Your Soul by Hannah Anderson. Beverly is the Director of Development at the Laurel Pregnancy Center and a recovering mathematician. She loves people, coffee, french fries and photography. Her home is in Ellicott City, Maryland where she is a wife to Jeremy and mother to two little (and very energetic) boys.
Rest. We seek it, long for it, work for it and yet it eludes so many of us.
With all that we have, anxiety still creeps into our hearts and minds and robs us of the rest that we need. Why do we continually strive for something that always seems just out of reach? What is the root of this restlessness, this fear, this overwhelming life?
Hannah Anderson explores the connection between pride and so many areas of anxiety, shame and sin in our lives in her latest book, Humble Roots. It is well written and researched with clever family and floral anecdotes intertwined throughout with quotes from other resources that allow her to build a beautiful case for humility, real humility, rooted in Christ. The bucolic backdrop paralleled well the call for humility, the right kind of humility that brings freedom and rest. Each chapter is elegantly woven around an anecdote of plants and gardening. Hannah draws you into her life in the Appalachians, conjures longings for a simpler time with sun-ripened tomatoes and fresh blackberries and reminds you that this restful life has been offered to you.
When I first started reading this book, my husband looked over my shoulders, read a bit of the first chapter and then asked if this book was about me. In this busy world, Hannah calls for something different. Not for working harder or better, but pointing us to the Cross of Christ, the humility of it and right thinking about our place and God’s.
Never before have I made the connection between my anxiety and busyness and feelings of failure as a sign of pride.
I cried more times than I care to admit while reading this book. Somehow, in all my years, I still forget that I am not God. Anderson writes, “Pride convinces us that we are stronger and more capable than we actually are. Pride convinces us that we must do and be more than we are able.”
Hannah asks the question of how pride and humility shape different aspects of ourselves: in our body, our emotions, our knowledge, our resources, our dreams and our pain. In each of these, she points out how we are held captive and how the humility found in Christ can set us free.
How are we to steward our body as a part of creation?
We often think of it as something temporary and so unlike God “who is a Spirit and does not have a body like man.” However, the incarnation of Christ Jesus reminds of us of the goodness of our bodies. “To reclaim humility, Jesus embraced human limits as good.” In our emotions, we often either let them guide us (‘just follow your heart’) or we deny them. Yet, “God is greater than our heart,” so we can both feel deeply and lean on His truth. Knowledge is such an easy thing to idolize. What could be wrong about seeking “the right way?” I know I have often been caught here and it can lead to a desperate, never-ending search. “If God accepts us based on our being right about every issue, then we must first to prove ourselves right; but if God accepts us based on our being right, then none of us have any hope.”
And our resources, all of us have gifts in our lives and so often we are consumed with the desire for more or consumed with guilt for what we have. “Count your blessings,” we are told. “At least it’s not as bad as them.” But humility teaches us to ask, “What has God given me and what responsibility do I have because of it?” … Suddenly, every gift has a purpose. We all see how our dreams have been distorted and broken. Everyone has plans that didn’t happen, hopes for a different future. We are sometimes taught to follow those dreams or to suppress them to do what we ought. But perhaps dreams aren’t simply something that we work towards or mourn in the passing.
Perhaps dreams are instruments of God teaching us His grace.
“Humility teaches us to embrace desire as a means of learning to submit to God.” Humility also offers hope in the midst of the pain and brokenness of this life. So often in this brokenness we can become despondent. “Without a strong understanding of God’s presence in our brokenness, without the humility to recognize His power, nothing matters.” Yet Hannah reminds us that even the thorns of this world have been redeemed in the crown of our Savior. And though we do not deny the pain, we mourn it and we have hope.
The roots of humility or pride impact every area of our lives, from how we treat our bodies, to our failures and successes, to our intellect, to emotions and desires and Hannah touches on these all. In bringing us back to Christ, to our Humble Roots, Hannah reminds us that Christ has redeemed each and every aspect of our beings and it is when we can remember our creature-hood and His God-hood that we can find freedom and rest. She continues, “Through His deity, He enables us to be what we are supposed to be. And when we are, when we exist as God has intended us to exist, we will find rest.”
I have always loved Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” For a long time, I thought that it meant I needed to have a better quiet time and work harder to know God and His word. Then I thought it meant to just say no to things more often and not be so busy all the time. I have at points in my life made rest into a chore. Lately, I had been focusing on the second part, the awesomeness of God in all His glory. And yet again, God has refocused my understanding. This verse is both a command and comfort. I am able to rest because of who God is, and because I am not Him. Wow.
Read this book. It surprised me, encouraged me, provoked me. It was what I needed to hear.