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Saturday, October 22, 2016

"Humble Roots" (Hannah Anderson)

TITLE: Humble Roots: How Humility Grounds and Nourishes Your Soul
AUTHOR: Hannah Anderson
PUBLISHER: Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2016, (208 pages).

We live in a world where stress is commonly felt; anxiety evident in the faces of many; and restlessness driving our efforts every where we go. We try to perform well because we want to keep our jobs. We want to prove ourselves worthy for various reasons. We are trapped in the non-stop spiral of expectations that never seem to back down. With a competitive environment, many of us have felt the pressure of having to maintain a step ahead of our closest rivals. What if there is a way to nourish our inner soul without being tarnished by outer expectations? What if we are not driven by that need to perform but led by a quiet confidence and trust? What if the way ahead is not arrogance and pride but restfulness and humility? In this book, author Hannah Anderson explores the roots of restfulness and finds that in the promise of Jesus in Matthew 11:28 which says: "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

This book begins via a conversation that started with the author's first book, "Made for More" which looks at what it means to be made in the Image of God. In this book, we go beyond this to what Incarnation of this image means for us. The key thesis is that humility enables us to flourish as the individuals we have been created to be. She uses a planting metaphor, which is also drawn in the cover of the book.  Part One looks at the need to return to our roots of humanity, which is the need to rest, not in anxiety nor prideful living, but in situating our lives according to our identity. She gives a powerful observation of her travel to the Golan heights where she sees a contrasting picture of weapons of war surrounded by "carefree wild red anemones." If things of nature will ultimately last longer than the forced superficiality of efforts and performance, should we not pay more attention? It is as easy as planting seeds and carefully tending to them over time instead of rushing the growth simply because growth is never our doing in the first place. The agricultural component is an important part of recognizing our roots of humility. Readers learn about how the famous Thomas Jefferson was a naturalist, and how a root louse cause the failures of his vines. She likens the presence of pride as a kind of 'root louse' that attacks the development of us as persons. By being grafted into Christ, we are able to grow, resistant to the ways of the world. In a moving story about grafting heirloom apples, we learn of how humility itself cannot be grown simply from scratch. It has to be grafted in, and in this case, in Christ. We learn about the root word 'humus' which is essentially dust" which we come from and which we will return to. Anderson stresses the following which should make readers sit up.
"Our need to maintain our overinflated sense of self is also why theologians mark pride as the root of every other sin; not only does pride go before the fall, it goes before every fall." 
We are also reminded that humility is not a quick-fix but involves not only spiritual disciplines but also an intentional lifestyle change. Having our eyes on the end-result helps us to sustain this discipline. This path brings about many benefits too, such as healing. The path toward authentic health requires us to get back to our authentic selves. Beware of toxic mulch that can suffocate any positive intentions. We read about emotional humility that avoids the extremes of false modesty and shameful lack of confidence. Trusting God is the key. It begins with the fear of the Lord and an honest recognition of our limits. When we realize our helplessness in many matters, we can only hope and pray, and adopt an "epistemology humility." Anderson goes deep and wide with regard to what humility looks like. In a multi-faceted approach, she leaves no stones unturned using a planting metaphor from seeds to fruits; and from roots to shoots; and from grafting to harvesting. Every chapter is infused with biblical references and principles to remind us that without God, we cannot truly be humble. We are totally dependent on God. We are helpless without Christ. Perhaps, the biggest takeaway from this book is the notion of freedom.

Humility frees us from the many bondages of worldliness. We are liberated from having to prove ourselves because we are already accepted in Christ. We are empowered to be ourselves because our identity is in God. We are free from the traps of restlessness, knowing that true rest resides in God alone. We are free from self-expectations and self-demotivational thoughts. Anderson has it right. The roots of humility is essentially being grafted in Christ. There is no other way. Just like Jesus who urges his disciples to rest and abide in Him, we are called to rest and abide in Christ in order to begin our path toward discovering our authentic selves. It will take time. It will take lots of intentional living. It will require us to be more self-forgetful. Like Christ, it is God the Father who raises Him up. This is the way. In a nutshell, Anderson has shown us that the true roots of humility is in Christ, and in Christ, we will grow the fruitful tree of humility in due course.

Rating: 4.75 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of Moody Publishers and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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