Humility or Gratitude?

I am taking a little break today from the Snapshots Series to share some developments.

Whenever I have something positive to share, I have to struggle with the admonishments I grew up with — that one shouldn’t draw attention to oneself and that one should practice “Demut” rather than “Hochmut” (humility rather than pride). One admonishment came in the form of saying that we shouldn’t focus on “the big I” — in other words, don’t consider yourself important. A popular saying among the Amish was, “Jesus first, yourself last, and others in between.” This may be true, but I don’t believe it means “yourself not at all.”

There are things that I am grateful for that I like to share with others. And being the people person that I am, I have a hard time refraining from it. So, here are a few of the things I am grateful for.

David and I recuperating from our two-week book tour through the upper Midwest. We had a wonderful time. We broke our record for number of people in attendance — in Jackson, Minnesota, we had 225 people come to the talk. In Madison, Wisconsin, I counted as many people as I could in a room that usually holds just under 100 people. I counted 170, but I am not sure I counted all the people sitting on the floor, standing in the door, or standing in the back of the room where I couldn’t see. Three Amish people were in attendance there. At the end of the tour, in Ann Arbor, Michigan, I delivered book talk 109. I have some time to regroup now, with only four talks scheduled ahead of me.

More and more, people come to me and tell me the ways in which my story has touched them. These are people from all walks of life. I hoped, when I wrote my book, that people would be able to relate to the story in ways that will help them reflect on their own lives. It is so gratifying that this is happening.

I always appreciate reviews on my book. David Crumm, who writes “ReadtheSpirit” wrote a review of my book on February 27, 2012 “PBS ‘Amish’ Proves the Truth is Neither Plain nor Simple.” Yesterday he posted another article, “Discovering Amish Culture, Grace and Good Food.” In his unassuming and eloquent style, David Crumm conveys exactly the aspects of my story that I was hoping people would take away when they read it. He really understands the nuances in ways that makes me see things I hadn’t consciously considered before. I am very touched by his understanding. Tomorrow he will be posting an interview with me.

ReadtheSpirit is a wonderful read, whether it’s an interview with Jimmy Carter about peace or a Conversation with Karen Armstrong. Crumm’s balanced and nuanced interviews with people from all walks of life examines spiritual issues from many different angles.

I discovered the other night that my book is a finalist for the 2011 Forward Reviews Book of the Year Award (BOTYA). The winners will be chosen on June 23. I am very honored that my book is a finalist in the Women’s Issues category, whether or not it wins a prize.

These are a few of the things I am grateful for. I am also grateful for hearing birds singing outside the north window right now. And, as always, I am grateful for the home I share with my husband, David.

A warm thank you to all those who have responded to the posts I put up while I was away from home. I will try to be more responsive to future comments. And I also appreciate all those readers out there who continue to read my blog posts.

Is there a dividing line between wanting to “go tell it on the mountain” and being humble? And if there is, does there need to be? I’d love your thoughts on this.

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8 thoughts on “Humility or Gratitude?”

  1. The Lord has blessed you and I am glad that you are sharing all the ways that you have been blessed. You are an inspiration to others because you knew that you needed to change your life, you changed your life, and you are now reaping the benefits of your strength of spirit.

    May the Lord continue to bless you,


  2. Saloma, I am where you are in writing good things about myself. There is one thing a lot of Amish do or did back in my days and that is to degrade themselves. It seemed like a game where one women would say, “I am ugly.” And the rest in the group would all return, “No, you are not.” And then the first would repeat herself, “Yes,I am ugly”. And “No, you are not” over and over again. To me it was just an attention getter.

  3. Bean, thank you for your compliments and for being such a good listener. Every story teller needs someone to listen.

    Katie, you reminded me of something that I had sort of forgotten – I used to do that, too. Except out of the Amish it didn’t work very well. I had a good friend who would look at me surprised and say, “Saloma, why do you put yourself down like that?” Because she reflected that back to me, I soon learned not to do that anymore.

    Thank you, Katie, for your thoughtful comments, as always.

    I hope everyone is enjoying Spring. Here in the Pioneer Valley, the sun is setting on a perfect spring day… it was sunny, breezy, and the temperature was just right.

  4. Congratulations on your book recognition with BOTYA!

    You have a story to tell, dear Saloma. While we’ve never met (are you coming to Indiana again?), I believe you to have a gentle soul…. be kind and stay true to yourself.

  5. Tell your story, Saloma, and share the joys and successes along the way. Humility is not about ignoring or degrading self, but about recognizing and enjoying the power of God working through the gifts and creativity He has placed within us.

  6. Sprouting Acorn, so good to see you again and thank you for your compliments.

    I don’t know when I will be in Indiana again. I was in the upper Midwest, but didn’t make it to Indiana in early May.

    Aleta, thank you for your perspective. Until now I had not recognized this, but I think a long time ago I learned that self-degradation does not equal humility, but I don’t think I ever realized the part about ignoring the self. Thanks for pointing that out. And I like the idea that “recognizing and enjoying the power of God working through the gifts and creativity He has placed within us.” In other words, humility is about accepting and working with the talents we have and not coveting others’ talents, accomplishments, or anything else. I like that very much. Thank you for this wisdom.

  7. Pingback: About Amish | About the “Crossing the Line” Conference at Eastern Mennonite University

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