Cataracts to My Privilege {Book Club}

Ah, the irony that today’s reading in Humble Roots covers the intersection between Natural Resources (Chapter 8) and Desires (Chapter 9) and humility (the theme of the book and of this week).

I find the two are clashing for me.

My natural resource of time is simply not enough to meet my desire to handle these chapters well and write a post worthy of the topics. So, as I have been dealing with my to-do list this morning and seeing the time I have left to write this shrink, the back of my mind has been wondering how humility fits into this tension I feel.

If I keep writing to you, it means that I will be late to a weekly lunch for visiting scholars. Already this morning I had to run to the store in the pouring rain (very rare in this neck of the woods) to buy Cracker Jacks. After lunch I teach a culture class and we are finishing the baseball unit, complete with singing Take Me Out to the Ball Game. The line about Cracker Jacks makes so much more sense if you actually see them.

Buying snacks last minute is not how I roll. All week I have meant to buy them. I knew this day was coming. I knew this part of the lesson was coming. I knew how excited my students are about the learning a song—it still amazes me that some of the brightest minds from China display visible childlike joy at the mention of learning a song.

But the natural resource I am still learning to steward eludes me.

Hannah said, “We are blind to our own privilege.” It’s true. I am. Well, maybe not blind, I know how incredibly privileged I am that my days are full with meeting with people who love Velvet Ashes, working with Velvet Ashes, and other ways that God uses me in this world. Overall, I love my life.

So, I am not blind. But I may have cataracts. There are moments—like these—where I am typing like a madwoman, glancing at the clock, and aware of the stress in my jaw.

What does humility look like when what I have to offer is paltry compared to my desire and the difference I want to make?

“It is precisely through the process of wanting certain things that we also learn to trust God to fulfill those desires or to trust Him to change them. It is precisely through the process of learning to plan that we learn to depend on a God who makes our plans happen.”

You know I love this book club. That it is a priority to write posts that honor your time and our discussions. But my time is not enough this week to balance my desire for this post.

But God is faithful. He will use these crumbs to get the conversation started in the comments. I look forward to what stood out to you, what stirred in you, and how these two chapters met you in YOUR complexly rich life as well.

See you in the comments,

with love, Amy

Reading plan for Humble Roots and Scouting the Divine:

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 Bud Helisson on Unsplash

6 Comments

  1. Kiera May 8, 2018

    I haven’t exactly been following along with book club this spring. I didn’t think I’d be able to get my hands on the books in order to read them and that was ok because I was reading other things in this season, but then a free audiobook trial crossed my path and I said, “yes, please” and was able to get Humble Roots. That said, I haven’t quite been in step with the tempo of reading this book and haven’t read Scouting the Divine. I don’t quite know where I am in terms of the chapters, though I have listened to at least part of the chapter on privilege. One thing that stuck out that I think was from these chapters was Hannah’s reference to – it’s not about our 1000 gifts, but our 1000 opportunities, getting at the idea of going past appreciating what we’ve been given to what we are going to do with it (parable of the talents).

    But one of the big things that has been coming back to me again and again since I heard it somewhere near the beginning of this book is the connection between humility and stress. We are stressed, Hannah says, because we think we can (and should) do it all. There is a magnet on my fridge (thank you VA) that says “rest is an act of faith” and an act of humility too, I think. I have been thinking about this today as I am on the verge of taking on a part-time job alongside caring for my family. I am thinking about how to make it work and about how to not stuff life too full and about how to not stress out. Rest is an act of faith, I remind myself, and I can’t do it all and I shouldn’t. What am I going to let go of in order to put this in?

    And this is where your post fits in beautifully because I know you are doing many, many good things – VA grant writing, one of the ones spear-heading our connection groups, writing book club posts and buying cracker jacks. 🙂 It’s kind of the perfect post for humility actually because it says, book club can still go on, even if Amy runs out of time to write an amazing post. Humility is not a word I really like – too close to humiliation which connotes shame – but I have found it very refreshing to listen to in a Simply Tuesday (Emily P. Freeman) kind of way. It’s a pleasant change from the buy-more, do-more, be-more that we hear so often. I was reading John 15 today too and noticed that we are to “abide” in order to bear fruit – not work hard to bear fruit, but abide. Feels like that fits in right alongside of Humble Roots.

  2. Spring May 8, 2018

    Dear Amy this does not feel like crumbs! I do however now feel a grumbling in my stomach for cracker jacks!

    I too feel like I just haven’t given the time I would like to this book. I could read chapters over and over and not have read enough. I want to not just read but assimilate what she is saying into my life.

    This week I was annoyed. My friends on Facebook from PA have been grumbling about the abundance of snow and the excessively long winter. This week the temp “soared” to 90. They then grumbled about how they have to turn on their central air. ug!

    Chapter 8 was timley for me then. To think about all being a gift. To see the privileges I have in front of me. Humility teaches me to as the author states, a gratitude rooted in the fact that I entered the world with nothing. Oh to grasp that!!

  3. Michele May 8, 2018

    If I start teaching English again, I’m going to be asking for a copy of that baseball unit! It sounds so fun. And there- lesson plans grabbing my attention shows me that teaching again is one of my desires… I loved the line, “By acknowledging your desires, you are embracing the truth that God has made you to be something very particular,” and that whole story about how Nathan finally admitted what he wanted and is now walking in it. Plus, thank God for country church pastors! There was so much in these chapters I am still chewing on. This is a book I’m likely going to need to re-read.

  4. Rachel May 8, 2018

    What struck me in chapter 8 was the two extremes that seem opposites of each other, but are both rooted in pride, two branches of the same plant, if you will: being blind toward our privilege vs feeling guilty for it. “…the same pride that blinds us to our privilege can lead us to feeling guilty about it.” This brought to mind The Curious Christian and binary thinking (the main thing that sticks with me from that book).

    She briefly talks about minimalism and how you must be privileged if you can live that way (“even the ability to embrace a minimalist lifestyle is based in abundance”) because if you ever need another of what you threw out, you can always go get a new one. I’ve heard Hannah Anderson talk about this before, on Persuasion, part of the Christ and Pop Culture Podcast Network. It resonated because when the minimalist craze hit my Facebook friends, I also looked through my hoard of junk, and I found very little I could part with. No, *this item* doesn’t bring me joy, it doesn’t work all that well, and I don’t even particularly like it, but I really may need it one day, and these things are not available in this country. (Sidenote: I recommend the podcast – it’s one of my favorites!)

    Later, she says, “Instead of rejecting our resources, humility teaches us to receive them as gifts and to use them for God’s glory and the good of those around us.” and “Instead of asking ‘Do I deserve this gift?’ humility teaches us to ask, ‘What has God given and what responsibility to I have because of it?'” Humility shifts the focus completely, neither blind or embarrassed by privilege, instead it is determined to use whatever resources are available.

    In chapter 9, I’m convicted by this: “…ignoring our desires may serve as the convenient way we remain ignorant and resist change.” Discussing dreams last week made me aware that I have ignored my desires for a long time. To a certain extent, I’m just trying to survive (who has time for dreams and desires?) but am I also resisting change? Hmmm…probably.

    I adore the story of the beans growing spontaneously and producing more than those planted intentionally. That is exactly how I see God working! “Because we can’t know the future, we also don’t know when He will choose to bless us with abundance despite all signs pointing to failure.” Yes.

  5. Anna May 8, 2018

    The things that really stuck out to me from this reading were these two quotes, “Your very existence is a gift and everything you have or have ever had is a gift as well.” and “What has God given and what responsibility do I have because of it?”

    This is very sobering, but also very freeing.

  6. sarah May 8, 2018

    These were the two chapters of the book that stuck in my mind the most and keep coming back to me.
    I loved this quote at the end of the Resources chapter: “… humility teaches us to ask, “What has God given and what responsibility do I have because of it?” And by doing so, humility changes the frame of reference entirely. Suddenly we are no longer at the center; God is. Suddenly our sense of entitlement or guilt no longer drives our choices. Suddenly everything is a gift and everything has purpose.”
    Thinking of everything I have and have experienced as a gift and that I have a responsibility to share those gifts has changed my perspective on situations several times in the last couple weeks. Probably the most funny example was when I found myself looking at a bunch of bananas I had just taken out of the freezer to make banana bread and thinking, “OK, these bananas are a resource I can share with others. Who should I give the bread to, Lord?” 🙂
    And here’s my favorite from the Field of Dreams chapter: ” God delights to use small, out-of-the-way, unexpected means to showcase His glory precisely because it is small, out-of-the-way, unexpected means that appear to be least possible of success.”
    When I came back to my host country from the VA Retreat, I encountered visa issues for the first time since moving here. After several days of praying, I realized God really was telling me to take the most foolish, even unnecessary, option in front of me- literally, the “least possible of success.” I really didn’t want to do it, but felt like I needed to in order to be obedient, and the Lord really “showcased His glory” through it. And, He also brought some emotional healing through it that I didn’t even know I needed. He’s capable of so much more than we know.

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