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Humble pie

By Michelle Lehnardt

Ladling spicy tortellini soup into shallow bowls, I handed each plate to my husband where he added a thick slice of wheat bread and placed the meal in front of a waiting child. Speaking above the din of our six children I outlined for him the indignities and frustrations of hosting both grandmas for Thanksgiving, “She criticizes everything I make! She brings nothing for the dinner and then doesn’t even help with the dishes!”

He spread a thick layer of butter on yet another slice of bread and suggested, “If you could be a little more humble this Thanksgiving, you’d be a lot more happy.”


The words stung, but I had an instant, almost spiritual confirmation that he was right. If I could be a little more humble, I’d be a lot more happy– not just on Thanksgiving, but every day.

Pride is my great grand barrier to sincere gratitude. Pride declares: I created this, I deserve this, don’t step on my toes, don’t assault my dignity. Not only does my prideful heart neglect to thank God for what he has given me, it covets even more. But humility (charity) “suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not…. seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil.” 1 Cor. 13:4-5

As I consider every situation that makes me unhappy it is my pride and the resulting lack of gratitude that drags me into misery. And as much as I need humility in dealing with all my fellow men, I especially need it with my family.

What is it about family ties that makes me so impatient, so critical? My friends’ human foibles are not only acceptable, but endearing. And yet those same frailties are like fingernails on the chalkboard at family gatherings.

In Shoulder to Shoulder by Courtney Miller Santo, the author views her sister differently after seeing her through another’s eyes. If I stand back and look at my mother and mother-in-law, they are incredible, outstanding women. Both were raised by drunken fathers, converted to the church as adults(one in Denmark, the other in Idaho) and raised their children without support or assistance of grandparents.

Yet, despite their heartaches, they show up, they keep trying, learning, reading, desperately trying to make sense of this life and their place in it. Each woman deserves my respect, not my disdain. As Marjorie Hinckley oft repeated, “Be kind. Everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

So Wednesday, as I begin rolling out the pastry for a half dozen pies, I’ll fill a very special crust with love, patience, charity, joy, hope and laughter. Thursday morning, I’ll eat slice after slice until I am filled with the love of God.  It’s OK if I ruin my appetite for turkey. This Thanksgiving I simply want to be kind.

How do you prepare your heart for Thanksgiving? For family? Help me please, because I really don’t have the recipe for humble pie. And I need it.

About Michelle Lehnardt

(Blog Team) I'm the kind of mom who drives through mud puddles, throws pumpkins off the roof and lets the kids move the ping-pong table into the kitchen for the summer. Despite (or probably, because of) my immaturity, my five sons and one daughter are happy, thriving, funny people. I'll climb a mountain with you, jump into a freezing lake hand-in-hand or just sit with you while you cry. I believe the gospel of Jesus Christ will heal the earth. Founder of buildyourteenager.com, scenesfromthewild.net and rubygirl.org.

20 thoughts on “Humble pie”

  1. I could use a piece of humble pie just as badly, or more, than you. My dealings are with a SIL. I am usually a grump for days after being around her. The answer, humility on my part. Here is my resolve for this weekend and hopefully all my life. I decided that I need to treat her (and anyone) the way that I would like to be treated, even if the favor isn't returned. I will forgive the plethora of comments that so often leave me fuming and instead shower her with the kind that would leave me smiling. The hardest part is after the time together is all said and done. I could spend a week rehashing her many rude comments. Instead I will forgive and I will forget. Oh man, this is going to be hard …

  2. How timely and well said. This will be our first Thanksgiving without any extended family, however, I need to be more humble in every setting. I suppose one thing I would do would be to try to remember what Sister Hinckley said. I really believe most criticism stems from deep insecurity. I would hope that when my thoughts, words and/or actions have been less than charitable, others could be merciful and understanding enough to forgive me. People need love and validation. Perhaps you can help provide it.

    Thank you for this thought-provoking, well-written post!

  3. Oh man, I am so with you on this one babe. Everyone is coming to our house this year, and I'm in freak out mode. I know if the house isn't completely perfect in every way, someone is going to make a snide comment. I know that if I could just relax and not be so on guard, we could probably have a great day, but I just don't know how to do it.

    And I just found out that my parents will be swooping in for the meal, then taking off to go to Rome for the rest of the long weekend. I think I'll be lucky to get a couple of hours with my parents. Somehow it just doesn't feel like a Thanksgiving meal if we're all taking the food 'to-go'.

    Wow, I'm not helping you at all, am I? I'm just making it worse. Sorry. I need the help to get over it, so I'll shut up and just see what all the clearly smarter-than-me people have to say! Because the only thing I've got is prayer…lots and lots of prayer.

  4. Michelle, thanks for the post. Very timely indeed.
    You are not alone in the least bit. What an honest and humble voice this Monday morning. Refreshing.

    My constant prayer is this: help me to have a bigger filter. At first I thought it was an odd thing to request in my prayers, but let me tell you, the prayer is getting answered piece by piece. When I have a bigger filter, things just bounce off of me and I roll with life a little easier. Comments seem to disappear before I can over-analyze them.

    A bigger filter and lots of yoga breathing—These two things will hopefully get me through the moments of tension and misunderstanding while I am washing down the turkey with tons of cranberry. I adore my siblings and their families, but I am struggling with my husband's side. Thank goodness families are forever, because I require a lot of grace and forgiveness when it comes to this one.

  5. I'm not worried about this Thanksgiving, because things are good with my in-laws–thankfully! When some of my family came out in August, however, announcing that of course they would be staying with us, I got cranky. I wasn't able to relax about it until a friend reminded me how good it was that they cared enough to come. She was right. And somewhere in there I decided it really didn't matter if I got the house spic and span, it didn't matter if they didn't like my parenting style, etc. (knowing my sis would be there who is totally loyal to me really helped). It wasn't worth the stress of having my son cry while I focused too much energy on cleaning for them. It turned out to be a very nice weekend all around; nobody commented on the cluttery table we never did get to eat at, and I felt strengthened to handle the parenting comments.

    I would be much more stressed if we were going to visit my family because of some tension among siblings/in-laws. Prayer and such have helped me not wig out over that so much from a distance (though it wasn't so easy when we were on vacation together). Humor has also helped: I saw a quote last week at a boutique that said something like, "I smile because I'm your sister. I laugh because there's nothing you can do about it."

    Michelle, I really enjoyed this. Best of luck to you. There is a really great book on relationships by Terry Warner, called "Bonds That Make Us Free" if you want to really get deep into figuring yourself out in relationships. I got stuck when I had to do some problem solving about my brother and me, so I still need to finish it . . . but it's good stuff!

  6. How timely. I have spent the last few months on my knees praying for an opportunity to talk to my MIL about the unkind comments she makes. I asked the Lord to show me how I contributed to this kind of relationship. (She doesn't treat everyone this way.)

    When I spoke with her, I was careful and kind. But, I was honest with her. I gave her specific examples of how her comments hurt my feelings and how they make me feel.

    She completely surprised me when she tearfully apologized. Our relationship isn't perfect, but the Spirit helps me to know what I need to address and what I need to let go.

    I believe humility is about balance. Not believing or acting like we are MORE or LESS that another person.

    It's okay to teach our loved ones how to love us.

  7. These comments are incredible. Thank you. I like to think of this sisterhood of Segullah women praying for each other to be the kind, gentle mothers, daughters and sisters we want to be.

    Bonds that Make Us Free has been suggested to me more than once– I'd better read it now!

  8. I had my own dose of humble pie last week. My DH came home, and I was storming around the house, grumbling about how I had so much work to do and all of these ungrateful kids who never ever helped. And we were out of milk and everything was a disaster and there were toys everywhere and if I didn't do every dang thing it wouldn't get done. I wanted him to help me, or at least beat (verbally) the kids into submission and make them help. Instead he said, "Has anyone here died today?" When I sneered, "no," he said, "Shelah– you're stressed out because you allow your mind to get stressed out." Then he proceeded to get the kids to help and cleaned up the kitchen while I snuggled with the toddler who had been hanging on my ankles screaming while I was trying to clean up.

  9. THIS is why I love Segullah. How very real and genuine.

    This year I'm spending some time in the Temple before hosting an extra large Thanksgiving dinner. It helps.

    I love the sentiment in Sister Hinckley's remark. It's so true.

  10. THIS was a lovely and powerful post. Thank you.

    The older I get, the more I realize that human relationships are sooooo complicated. And the Lord's law of the gospel that He gave can be really hard…loving our 'enemies' (sometimes I think we think of that like enemies across the sea, or in vague, impersonal terms, but when I think about it in terms of those who are closest to me who have caused me pain, that commandment means so much more), forgiving, etc.

    Bonds that Make Us Free has been suggested to me more than once– I’d better read it now!

    While that book is amazing, I found it all a bit overwhelming and too theoretical. If you want a quicker read with some really practical tools, my top recommendation for a relationship book is _The Anatomy of Peace_ by the Arbinger Group.

    Another great and simple but profound read is _A Heart Like His_.

  11. I am in desperate need of some humble pie myself. We are anticipating a move closer to my in laws. And I am scared, especially after the sneak preview I had last month. I think it is so much easier to love them long distance. I know a lot of the issues are mine. I know I should pray more and have more mercy for them.

    But I also I need to set boundaries. I need to realize the things I need and not be afraid to ask for them. An important part of the way to handle things for me too is to have my husband validate my feelings. It helped so much in our relationship when he stopped defending his family and acknowledged that "yes, they are hard to deal with sometimes." A lot of times him just saying that helps to diffuse the situation.

  12. We're too far from family to have this to deal with this year. But when the in-laws visited this summer for a week I got enough to last a year. It's such a hard balance, especially with in-laws because the family dynamics are so foriegn. What they do in jest may
    seem harsh. What they speak about behind closed doors could be healing if discussed in the open. Heck even how they make the turkey could send you for a loop. We have something to teach and learn on both sides.

    If in doubt about which side you should act on, go with unconditional love. I feel it is more widely applicable than even humility, which is an aspect of it (great post, don't get me wrong!). If you can have genuine unconditional love, miracles can happen.

  13. I so need a heaping helping of humble pie! I would much rather blame everyone else for their atrocious behavior, but as the primary song says "kindness begins with me". Darn.

    I've learned that I should treat my relatives like people I barely know. I can be so nice to the ladies at church, but so nasty to my relatives. What is the matter with me?

  14. Thank you for your words of wisdom. One thing that helps me with the enjoyment of consuming humble pie is to eat it right along side the Savior. If I imagine Him right by my side, I don't say the things that first come to mind. I say the things I think he would say instead. Makes that humble pie delicious and desirable!

  15. Don't know your family. But there are also times to clean the Temple. When I die I'm not sure I want the Savior to say he sure was a "nice" guy. I think I'd rather hear him say, "What courage. What strength. What devotion." But I realize that is another post isn't it?


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