Book Review: Humble Roots
[The following bio was retrieved from Hannah’s Amazon author page, which can be found here.]
Hannah Anderson lives in the haunting Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. She spends her days working beside her husband in rural ministry, caring for their three children, and scratching out odd moments to write. In those in-between moments, she contributes to a variety of Christian publications and is the author of “Made for More” (Moody, 2014), “Humble Roots” (the book being reviewed here) (Moody, 2016), and her latest “All That’s Good” (Moody, 2018). You can connect with her at her blog sometimesalight.com and on Twitter @sometimesalight.
Humility With A Green Thumb
In Hannah Anderson’s remarkable book Humble Roots, she broaches the sometimes daunting subject of humility, and she does so with incredible skill.
Humility is a difficult subject to write on, namely because doing so often suggests that the author has the humility “thing” figured out, sort of a humblebrag, which Anderson describes in the book. But Anderson’s definition of humility is an atypical one. On page 157 (and before, and after), she defines humility this way: “Humility is understanding who God is and who we are.” It’s not an overly complex definition, nor is it an entirely unique one, but in our current day, it is clearly atypical…and substantive. Humility, therefore, as Anderson sees it, “is not a commodity. It is not something you can achieve. It is not something you earn or accomplish. Being humble is either something you are or aren’t. And if you aren’t, no amount of trying can make up for it. All your attempts to “be humble” —to say the right words or deflect praise or carry yourself in a lowly way—will seem unnatural and put on.” Anderson contends that humility is not something that we attain, but rather something that we receive. It’s a way of being in the world. It’s simply understanding that God is the Creator of all things and we are fundamentally “things” whom He created. Humility is rooted in knowing God.
Having laid this foundation, Anderson goes on to spend the bulk of the book making unique connections between the way of the world of produce, gardening, and nature and its application to humility. From herbs to honey, blackberries to milkweed, Anderson presents a robust, earthy theology that is refreshing.
As much as this is a book on the topic of humility, it’s farther reaching than that – or, maybe it’s just that humility and its implications stretch into all the various corners of our lives. Her working definition, that humility is rooted in a proper knowledge of God and of self, elicits insights and conclusions that are poignant, convicting, and surprising in a lot of ways. It’s a book that’s theologically astute, biblically faithful, and imminently applicable, I would expect, for just about anyone who picks it up.
Humbled by A Book on Humility
In a rented Nissan Sentra, on my way from Blue Springs, Mississippi to the Memphis, Tennessee airport, I found myself reciting a familiar prayer which has become common over the last four years.
Clarity. Wisdom. Courage. Straight Paths.
These are the things I’d asked for, maybe a bit more desperately this time. A half-hour later, while I sat at gate C10 with the Memphis sun beginning to finally peek through the clouds, I cracked open Humble Roots and read the following line through tears:
“Pride…demands to know God’s will before it will act.”
In an airport full of strangers, I fought hard to hold those tears back, and I succeeded…mostly. In the pages that followed, Hannah Anderson brought me to my hypothetical knees and spoke pure grace that pierced to the depths of my heart, forcing more tears to my eyes which I was determined to prevent from wetting my cheeks – I was alone in an airport, for crying out loud. But, right on the heels of my prayers on Interstate 22, God used this book to give clarity and courage, freedom and the sweet sting of conviction. I was being humbled by a book on humility.
Humble Roots didn’t make it through twenty-four hours in my possession before it was read from cover to cover. I could not put this book down. I didn’t want to put this book down. Since finishing, I find myself going back to chapter 9, pages 159-160, and reading over and over again. This may be one of the most important books that I’ve read in 2018.
Go pick up this book. Read it, and then read it again. And then read it again, maybe annually. It is that good. It’s that helpful. It’s that important.
[I received this book free of charge from Moody Publishers in exchange for an honest review.]