“Feeling worn thin? Come find rest.” The invitation on the back of the book succinctly summarizes the lovely message, but there is so much more within its pages. In Humble Roots: How Humility Grounds and Nourishes the Soul, Hannah Anderson has written a meditative volume that peels away the insidious pride in our lives as the source of much of our anxiety and stress over our limitations.
Hannah is a relatable friend from her very first words, “I was done. I had reached my limit.” I could have written the first chapter describing the spiritual exhaustion, changing only a few circumstantial details. I suspect there are many of us out there, moving from one day to the next in an effort to just survive the many to-do’s on our agenda. Fortunately, Hannah goes beyond defining the problem and opens our eyes to the solution.
As a home school mom and Registered Nurse who has worked 12 hour shifts nearly every weekend for the last fifteen years, I am quite familiar with the sense of overwhelmed chaos that carries days into weeks and then what seems like weeks straight into years. Some of my favored verses during this season of my life have been these found in Matthew 11:28-29:
28 Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
Hannah digs deep into the fullness of that rest as we learn to be like Jesus, who was meek and humble, not filled with the constant anxieties of how to get it all done or the nagging worries of what others might be thinking. Soothing analogies from the garden relate scriptural principles of growth and nurturing. Humble Roots is a deep watering of the roots of the soul, and a rejuvenation for the wilted and sun-beaten traveler.
A special source of delight are the illustrations that preface each chapter. Michelle Berg Radford captured the wild beauty in the botanical drawings with fabulous detail. I particularly love the blackberry vine at the beginning of chapter 10, Thorns and Thistles, the depiction a reflection on life with its notoriously harsh thorns and lush, sweet fruit.
I read with a highlighter in my hand as truth spoke to me time and again. Even though Hannah has an appealing conversational voice, I found myself needing to ingest a chapter at a time, so I could reflect on it and sometimes share it with someone. She includes many rich quotes from spiritual fathers such as C.S. Lewis and Andrew Murray that made me want to jump up and embroider them on a pillow. One of my favorites by Lewis was stated as her goal for Part II of her book, which said this: “…to get ‘rid of all the silly nonsense about your own dignity which has made you restless and unhappy all your life.” Understand that the message is not one of shame and low self-esteem, but rather one of finding your value in your identity as a creation of the God of the universe instead of in your accomplishments or talents.
It seems counter-intuitive that pride and perfectionism are not the solution, but the problem. We live in a society that values achievement and the accolades that accompany them. But the constant striving to do more, to be more, to have more is driving us to exhaustion and frustration. Hannah’s message is not that we should stop trying, but that we need to stop seeing ourselves as the shoulders upon which the world rests. Humble Roots is a refreshing reminder that we aren’t meant to carry problems that are too big for us, and our attempts to do so are foolish pride.
*I was blessed to be part of the launch team for Humble Roots as it came at a time in my life that I desperately needed to hear its message. In the interest of full disclosure, I was not compensated for this review other than a free copy. My opinions are my own, and expressed with authenticity.