Because “God > My Heart” {Book Club}

After last week’s reading in  Scouting the Divine and this week’s reading in Humble RootsI want to tell every bee and jar of honey I meet: Thank you! I had no idea all that was involved.

I have said it before, but Humble Roots has similar themes to Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero, which we read the Fall of 2015. At least four times in my notes for the chapters we read today, I wrote: “Makes me think of EHS.” or  “EHS! Discussion of limits!” I even dug out and shared a bit from a blog post written when we read Emotionally Healthy Spirituality.

In chapter 2, Scazzero lists and explains The Top Ten Symptoms of Emotionally Unhealthy Spirituality.

  1. Using God to run from God
  2. Ignoring the emotions of anger, sadness, and fear
  3. Dying to the wrong things
  4. Denying the past’s impact on the present
  5. Dividing our lives into “secular” and “sacred” compartments
  6. Doing for God instead of begin with God
  7. Spiritualizing away conflict
  8. Covering over brokenness, weakness, and failure
  9. Living without limits
  10. Judging other people’s spiritual journey

If you want to read the full post, you can here.  In Humble Roots, we see how unhealthy spirituality is directly related to “the shame, around our limitations, imperfections, and change” our bodies go through. I appreciated Hannah’s discussion of how humility can inform how we steward our bodies and that we can honor the physicality of them.

On page 88 (in the physical book) this paragraph stood out to me: “We do not hate our bodies for what they are; we hate them for what they are not. We hate them for not being godlike. We hate them for being imperfect. We hate them for being limited. And like the man and woman in the garden, instead of rejecting the pride that tells us we could be like God, we reject the bodies that tell us we cannot.”

Later in the chapter her discussion on male / female relationships was some of the best I’ve read. Hannah was able to articulate what I have wanted to (and which I could have been able to. Oh wait, hello pride, my old friend.)

“And the very things that were given to unite us—our biological differences—now divide us. The problem is so real and dangerous that Christians often feel the need to establish standards of deportment for men and women. We tell women they must dress a certain way and make exacting pronouncements about what is modest and what is not. We tell men they must not have female friends, confirming for them that all women are attempting to control them through their sexuality. We tell both to be suspicious of the other, always looking for the deeper motive behind a gesture, a look, or an outfit.”

In Chapter 6, I loved the rich discussion on emotions and would love to hear what stood out to you. Do you agree with how she expressed things? Disagree? What think ye?

Near the end of the chapter she wrote: “Humility teaches us that we must pray and speak truth and love, but must not nag and pressure and guilt and manipulate. Humility teaches us to trust God. And suddenly a burden rolls off our back. We are no longer responsible to produce faith in another person’t heart. (As if we ever could.) We are no longer responsible for someone’s relationship with Christ. We are no longer responsible for the Holy Spirit’s work. He is.”

And “Because God’s heart is greater than my heart” I can, among other things, trust Him to care for me when my heart breaks through disappointment or suffering.

If your book is anything like mine, there two chapters are marked up! I’m anticipating a rich discussion in the comments and look forward to it!

Next week we will discussion Part 4 (The Vine) in Scouting the Divine.

See you in the comments, friends.

Amy

Reading plan for Humble Roots and Scouting the Divine:

March 6—The intros to the two books (Wonderment in SD, Sowing Seeds in HR)
March 13—Part 1 (The Good Shepherd) in SD
March 20— Chapters 1 and 2 in HR
March 27—Chapters 3 and 4 in HR
April 3—Part 3 (Land of Milk and Honey) in SD
April 10—Chapters 5 and 6 in HR
April 17—Part 4 (The Vine) in SD (Retreat this weekend!)
April 24—Last week was retreat so to have time to focus on the retreat, no extra reading his week. We will have a Get to Know and get back to reading this week. Also, I will announce the summer reading!
May 1—Chapter 7 in HR
May 8—Chapters 8 and 9 in HR
May 15—Part 2 (The Harvest) in SD
May 22—Chapters 10 and 11 in HR
May 29—We made it! Two books read in tandem we will review and have a Get to Know 

 

Photo by Antoine PERIER on Unsplash

14 Comments

  1. Karen April 10, 2018

    I also have a greater appreciation for honey this week! Have been noticing bees all over the place 🙂

    I have thought the most about the passages discussing how people get trapped in our own emotional experiences, defining “being true to one’s self” as being ruled by one’s emotions or desires even when those emotions or desires are destructive or lead to choices that are not what we’d desire under other circumstances. For example, on page 104, the author talks about how “we can become trapped in our own emotional experiences …. but what if prioritizing our emotional experience is what leads to our emotional chaos in the first place … humility teaches us that ‘God is greater than our heart.'” As a person who grew up in the generation right when postmodernism was just beginning to be a defining factor of our worldviews, it was HUGE for me to realize that God’s truth could be true regardless of how I’m feeling at any given moment, and I think that as we seek to help the next generation, it can be helpful to help them challenge assumptions about what it means to “be honest with themselves” or “be real.”

    Since reading these passages, I’ve been thinking more about how to frame these sorts of discussions with the teens I spend time with. Maybe it is possible to follow the logic in this book, demonstrating that people ruled by their emotion can make an unwise choice, “not because it is the wisest course of action, but because my emotions are driving me to protect myself …” (105) It’s fairly easy to demonstrate situations where we see this happening in the circumstances around us. This book does a good job of explaining how humility ties into this phenomenon, and how true humility, by declaring that “God is greater than our hearts,” affirms God’s supremacy over our emotions.

    1. Amy Young April 12, 2018

      Karen, I was talking with a speaker at the conference I’m at and she has the metaphor of “ditch people” — those in the ditch on either side of the road. One side is too self-focused and not enough others focused, the other is too others focused and not enough on their self. But we are called to be both self and others focused. Your comment has me wondering about with emotions/humility/pride. God has made us emotional, but they are not supreme. God does want us to be humble and proud :). I’m now verbally processing here, so sorry if this is scattered!!!

  2. Elizabeth April 11, 2018

    I loved the chapter on herbs and emotions in Humble Roots. Every time I read a chapter in her book, I think to myself, I love this author. I especially loved her explanation about humility not being an emotion. That true humility is a proper understanding of who God is and who we are as a result. This will result in emotions, certainly, not it is not based in emotion.

    I had already been thinking about this very thing — the emotions that result in our hearts when we remember and recite the truth about God that’s present in most hymns, ancient and modern. It may not surprise you, but I am a lyrics snob. The song lyrics are so important to me. I need TRUTH in my songs, and preferably poetically stated. Authorial date is not important — there are plenty of new hymns which fit this requirement, in addition to the old ones. But the meaning of the words has to be deep. It has to be solid truth. And I especially love it when the words are beautiful. It just feeds my soul so much to remember who God is and who I am. I’m filled with awe at his power and love, and I feel loved as a result. But the songs that are “going” for a certain feeling, they somehow fail to hit the mark. They feel shallow to me. Not always, but often. Songs focused on our feelings just don’t move me. I need more God in my songs. What He did. What He continues to do. How amazing He is. Those are the things that cause me to worship and cause me to love and cause me to feel loved and cared for. And when I read that section about humility not being a feeling but inducing feelings, I thought, yes, that’s it, that’s what I’ve been thinking about regarding worship.

    Another part that really stuck out to me was about manipulative people, at their root, not being humble. Really struck me because one of the most manipulative people in my life used the concept of pride to manipulate. Spoke so strongly against pride and accused people of pride, even when it wasn’t there, and used the accusations and manipulation to get their own way. So to read that a person who controls others is at root not humble was such an enlightening moment for me. I thought, oh, the person controlling me (and others) really didn’t have our best interests at heart. I mean, I think I knew that at some level, but to have it explained in this context was super helpful. (Sorry if that’s too vague to make sense — I have to keep it vague.)

    I’m guess I’m just really liking Hannah Anderson’s book. I find it profound and practical. And I really appreciate her footnotes. They often balance out anything she was trying to say. I can tell she’s not legalistic/fundamentalist/whatever you call it when people take a hard line on small issues. She’s broader than that, and I appreciate it. You don’t often find such balance in the blogging world, which tends to be divisive. But I can tell Hannah has thought all these things through.

    1. Elizabeth April 11, 2018

      Another example I just remembered — my husband recently preached about hope. He said hope isn’t primarily an emotion — it can be. It has to be based in the firm belief that God will come and save. That in the end good will triumph over evil. Then you feel warm, fuzzy feelings of course, but you can’t get true hope by positive or optimistic thinking. Just another example of needing to base our emotions on firmer truth. 🙂

      1. Stacy April 14, 2018

        Elizabeth,

        Your husband Jonathan’s message “Despair Is Where Hope Lives” rang true to me this week. Last night I read a few quotes from his email aloud during our small group discussion. We were pondering Psalm 23 and how we don’t necessarily feel/experience “green pastures” and “still waters” at every turn. And yet… our hearts can be restored even as we walk among the shadows.

        Posting the link to Jonathan’s message here for the benefit of all our VA friends: https://trotters41.com/2018/04/11/despair-is-where-hope-lives-psalm-130/

        1. Elizabeth April 14, 2018

          I’m so glad his sermon spoke to you, Stacy!

    2. Stacy April 14, 2018

      I agree: The footnotes in Humble Roots are just as meaty as the book!

  3. Rachel Kahindi April 11, 2018

    I so love chapter 5. That we are dissatisfied with our bodies because of pride is opposite of the messages we tend to see around us. “…instead of rejecting the pride that tells us we could be like God, we reject our bodies that tell us we cannot.” But: “Simply learning to ‘love your body’ will not free you from shame… What will free you from shame is humility; what will free you from shame is accepting that you are not and we’re never meant to be divine. And once you do, you are free to embrace your physical nature… You are free to hear God declare your body as ‘good.'”

    I agree with this!! but I have never heard it said this way. Granted, most people I have heard discussing body image are not Christians, so “learn to love your body” is really all they have to go on.

    What stands out to me in chapter 6 is the way emotional experiences have been idolized. I’ve definitely seen this in my own culture, and I’m beginning to realize that it is in my host culture as well. In the discipleship class I teach, we are learning to (and practicing) submit each part of our personality to the Spirit. We had just discussed a week’s study on emotions before I read this chapter. The main idea of the week is that, in our natural state, we are controlled by our emotions (which Hannah describes in the section called Authentic Selves). But when we are filled with the Holy Spirit, he produces spiritual fruit in us, and our emotions are under control. Right at the end of that section, she says, “Suddenly I am free to respond to difficult circumstances from a place of control and grace. Suddenly I’m free to see the world from a perspective larger than my own heart.”

    1. Elizabeth April 11, 2018

      Yes! Authenticity stuff is so big in modern culture — that our feelings should be followed (obeyed?), that our feelings tell “our truth.” The authenticity discussion also stood out strongly to me. And agree with Amy above — so much is similar to Emotionally Healthy Spirituality. And again, love how Hannah is so balanced and wise. We don’t need to ignore feelings, but we don’t need to obey them either.

  4. Suzanne April 11, 2018

    I studied Emotionally Healthy Spirituality as part of an online learning community a few years back too. It was good.

    Pure honey keeps for ever, like in the Egyptian tombs. But did it go candied, I wonder? Not that it matters – it is still good and easy to turn back with heat. Her observation about the platitudes people give at funerals about this only being the body and the soul being with Jesus was interesting. I’ve been thinking about the resurrection of our bodies quite a bit lately because of some study I’m doing. She has a point – separating the soul and body is very very sad and grief is appropriate. Bring in our resurrection bodies!

    Interesting that the word ‘emotions’ wasn’t part of everyday English until comparatively recently.

    Interesting use of the term ‘authenticity’. I would have thought that with appropriate humility, we are MORE authentic than ever, secure in our identity and not blown about by every little whim. But I see what she is trying to say hate it when people I care about hurt each other badly in order to ‘be true to themselves’.

  5. Hadassah Doss April 11, 2018

    Since I’ve returned to my passport country, I’ve really been struggling with how some things are done in my church. For instance, they just recently held a 30-night evangelistic series, of which I could only stomach two nights. Too much of the preaching and teaching focused on pressuring “seekers to make a decision for Christ” and not on “the truth about God’s character.” Like the author, I’d much rather “the love of Christ constraining us,” than impending doom or the fear of fire and brimstone. Thankfully, last week we had a visiting pastor share his views of evangelism taken from the story of Jesus and the Good Samaritan. He made the point that evangelism should be about building relationships and should be focused on Jesus as is illustrated in the story. It was because of Jesus’s kind and long-suffering character and His love that the Samaritan woman accepted Him and was able to bring others to Him. That’s the truth I want to be promoting!

    Then, my daughter’s teacher at our church school texted me that her skirt was too short. I’m all for modesty and don’t want my child to be labeled as immodest, but she’s 8 and has legs for miles and finding skirts that are long enough for her is something she may struggle with all her life. After working at two boarding academies, I understand the need for standards to be upheld, whether I agree with them or not, but like the author so candidly points out, “the problem, of course, is that while external laws can establish a standard of quality or behavior, they have no power to actually make [fill-in-the-blank] do the right thing.” When I asked my daughter if her teacher had talked to her about her skirt, she said she hadn’t. And to be honest, I haven’t explained the reason behind the decree either, fearing my disgust would shine through. Nevertheless, as the weather warms up, this is a conversation I shouldn’t NEGLECT having. My hope is I’ll be able to “set [my] mind on things that are above, not on things that are on earth,” so that she and I can be transformed in the process, and not simply controlled.

  6. Michele April 11, 2018

    Yes, these two chapters in my book are marked up! There’s so much I’m not sure how to comment, but I kind of just want to YES and AMEN all the comments above! I’m so glad I’m not reading this book alone- I love the way everyone is bringing out so much of the same things that jumped out to me with similar applications. I love the idea of just answering “the merciful love of God by sinking down into adoration.” I have been tasting a bit of that lately as I lead a study in Revelation and we focus on the attributes of God in the first five chapters. Meditating on them and getting lost in who He is is more freeing than I remembered. I really can feel my emotions lining up with truth- and with HIS emotions and it’s so good. And since I had been struggling with areas where I saw my pride rising up this last year or so, trying to ‘humble myself’, having Hannah spell it out- that the answer is really just worship of this One who is greater than my heart, just feels like a weight I wasn’t really aware I was carrying is being lifted.

  7. Anna April 11, 2018

    Towards the beginning of Ch 5, this stood out to me: “In many ways beekeepers like Wade Sutphin aren’t trying to recover a way of life, because they never lost it.” I love that!

    I also marked this part: “We do not hate our bodies for what they are; we hate them for what they are not. We hate them for not being godlike. We hate them for being imperfect. We hate them for being limited.” So true, but I’ve never seen it expressed quite that way.

    The parts talking about emotions and truth really clicked with me. One thing that’s bothered me about some of the contemporary Christian authors that I’ve read recently is the focus on “my truth” from my emotions and experience. Those things should never be ignored, but should be kept in perspective.

    I’m really enjoying this book & keep thinking of friends who would enjoy it as well.

  8. Michelle April 30, 2018

    Loved both of these chapters. And so much good has already been said in all of the above comments. I’m sorry I’m so late to the party. What can I say? Life! I’ve been reading along, just haven’t found time to log-in here and weigh in. Probably my favorite quote so far in this book is from the following chapter. “Theologically speaking, humility is a proper understanding of who God is and who we are as a result.” Knowing who Christ is, who I am, and that he understands and loves me in spite of who I am, is a powerful thing. I loved her thoughts on how that right understanding frees us from anger, pain and fear.

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