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I'm That Amish Girl Who Loves You

It’s easy to love people who are exactly like us. They make us feel happy, settled, at peace with the world and our choices. There’s such affirmation in homogeneity: you never look crazy, you never have to explain yourself, you’re probably right because, after all, look at all the people who agree with you. Rosy.

Differences make people uncomfortable. There’s that nagging implication that someone might be wrong, or worse even than that, there’s the worry that someone might be snidely thinking that we are wrong and maybe even condemning us.

I have a lot of experience with this because I’m sort of quasi-Amish. I wear loooong skirts. I cover my head. I have babies every 22 months (at least so far). I have homebirths. I breastfeed. I homeschool. I’m part of a tiny little house church. When people talk about a television show, if it was aired after the turn of the new millennium, I’m usually clueless. It’s been years since I was at a movie theater. I don’t listen to the radio. I’ve never followed secular music much. You know, isolated and strange.

But there are a lot of people in my life who aren’t doing all of these things, or any of these things.

And so I ask myself, how do people with an unusual set of convictions and life practices interact with the rest of the world, the “normal,” less freakish people out there, without adding that element of supposed condemnation that makes everyone feel so uncomfortable?

Since my convictions are so unusual, I can’t seem to talk about them without making a lot of people around me feel condemned just by nature of the fact that they have different convictions. And I can’t honestly say my convictions are just “personal” convictions, as in “I feel called not to eat oatmeal, but I don’t mind if y’all eat boatloads of the stuff–it’s just a personal conviction,” because I never felt like God revealed anything to me as a special call just on my life.  If I believe something it’s because I actually believe it. I don’t dress modestly because I think it’s something I need to do, but never mind, dear, God doesn’t care how you dress. I don’t avoid the majority of broadcast media because I think it’s a pointless, raunchy, morally desensitizing waste of time for me, but quite possibly good and wholesome for everyone else. No, I do these things (and most things) because I believe them to be true in the abstract, and then I apply them to myself. Stellar. I’m well set up to be a first class trumpeter of judgment and condemnation to nearly anyone on the planet. Because, you know, with my long list of all the ways I’m isolated and strange, it’s pretty easy for just about everybody to find a sticking point, some area of disagreement, some thing that I really believe in that they just don’t.

What to do? What to do?

Some people get around the issue by surrounding themselves with people that all think the same thing, join an oppressive group which dictates all convictions so they can be conservative without controversy, park their brains at the door, and do their condemning together as a cozy group. But then, who’s going to help them see where they’re wrong? It would be impossible for any of us to get it completely right. We need other people who see the world differently to challenge us and help us think through all those beliefs of ours to make sure we don’t decide oatmeal is the anti-Christ or something.

A better plan is to really believe what we believe, share it freely, and then lovingly give each other space to follow God as best we know how. We are not the ones other people have to please. They only need to please God, and He will reveal the things He wants each of us to know in His own timing.

Let’s genuinely love people even if they dress modestly (or don’t), or use birth control (or don’t), or send their kids to public school (or don’t), or even if they eat oatmeal (or don’t). People are still bound to get uncomfortable from time to time, but persevering in respecting them, valuing them, learning from them, and loving them seems to me to be a much better solution than either pretending we don’t believe anything, or limiting ourselves to people who already agree with us.

41 comments to I'm That Amish Girl Who Loves You

  • Thanks, that was lovely, and helpful.

  • Chere

    Yes, and who knows? You might give someone who seems to disagree something to think about!

  • Wow, this is excellent. I appreciate this in more ways than I can express, but you really hit the nail on the head!

  • L.

    This works both ways, you know.

    It would be very easy for me — an avid feminist, working-outside-the-home-by-choice (in the mainstream media!), elective c-section mother, who appreciates daycare/public school as much as I appreciate my contraception — to stick with my own kind, where I feel safe and comfy.

    In fact, why do I read this blog at all, and enjoy it as much as I do?

    I’m sure it’s because I never fail to be amazed at how much I have in common with so many of the commenters here. Under the obvious glaring differences, I am always glad to catch a glimpse of the common ground.

  • Beth

    Quasi-Amish, I love it. Personally I choose to call myself \Amish-ish\. :). But seriously, the Amish people’s \thing\, what makes them Amish is that they want to be seperate from \the world\. Extremely seperate. As Christians, we are called to be seperate, too. I guess we just all make choices about how far to take that and what it looks like in practice. But within the group, the more structured life is, the more that tiny differences stick out. A red \head covering\ at an Amish gathering would stick out like red fishnet stockings at the average Christian church service. So I think that people’s life choices can look different depending on what you’re used to, what you are comparing to. Of course the Word should be our guide, but I’m referring to cultural stuff.

  • So well said. Thank you.

  • Sara Weaver

    I like what you are saying. What makes this hard is being a part of a group of people or church that you differ from on some life choices. As parents of 5 children, we have had several people say they just don’t agree with homeschooling and “sheltering” our kids. That doesn’t sway us, but I do get concerned about raising my children one way and then going into to our fellowship of believers only to have our training questioned. I know we are to be in the world, not of it, and we need to be open to hear others, but at what point do we seperate? I would love to go to a church that has just like-minded people, but what do we do with evangelism and reaching out to people? I want my family to proclaim the gospel to all, but what I have found to be hard is not that my sons play on a non-church baseball league, it is easy to be seperate there, but when we go to church with other believers and my kids wonder why we do things this way and the people we fellowship with don’t. I am just confused.

  • Charity

    How can one possibly be a “light” if they are “hidden under a bushel” of their own comfort?

  • Oooh, this is good stuff. Because I don’t wear long skirts, or a head covering, or even considered a homebirth – and yet I still like you, Mrs. P!

    We do need to share our beliefs and then leave the details to the Lord. Man, if I worried about changing everyone I know into my clone – I’d never get anything done!

  • Heather

    What an amazing article that many women should read because it rings of truth in real life. If only there were communities of like-minded people in our area to have support from….

    Your article was a breath of fresh air for me, thank you!

  • Greetings,

    Very good. I agree totally with your assessment of the situation. I thought of something connected with what you said, and I thought I should share it.

    We are called to love as Christ loves. Yet Christ loves us even though we are ridiculously frail and sinful. How can we refuse to love someone just because they disagree with us? That is not Christ-like, or glorifying to God.

    I am very glad that you also pointed out that we are not supposed to have a good-for-me-but-maybe-not-for-you attitude. God is the absolute Truth, and we can seek that. Relative truth is a terrible lie.

    With joy and peace in Christ,
    Jay Lauser aka Sir Emeth Mimetes

  • Wonderful post! (I wanted to write a long comment detailing all the reasons I loved this post but unfortunately my house is chaos right now.) :)

  • Sweet Tweet

    Thank you your article it struck deep into my heart. I’m a Seventh-Day Adventist, not Amish. The thought of actually wearing a covering struck fear in my heart.

    What would my mother say? She noticed me covering my head with a scarf when I prayed at church. And said its OK unless as she motioned with her hands to cover her mouth and forehead, “then I’ll pretend I don’t know you,” she smiled.

    Some of my friends think its a cultural thing just for the Corinthian church and yet their is one woman who does her hair, now that I think of it.

    I researched the Orthodox Jewish women, they wear wigs as a covering for modesty. The Rabbis say the wig creates privacy, no one but you and your husband knows what the real you looks like. You’re attractive, but unavailable.

    I will decide soon irregardless of my mother or what my friends think. I know in my heart what God has done for me and I love HIm for dying on the cross for my sins and revealing through His Holy Spirit and the Scriptures how to do things to make Jesus smile and help others to know Him.

    Please pray for me that I follow only God’s commands and not my own view of what His commands are.

    Nice blogsite.

  • Sweet Tweet

    Oops… I meant to say and yet there is one woman in my church who does cover her hair, now that I think of it.

    Thanks.

  • Mrs. Parunak

    Sara Weaver,

    Loving people who are different doesn’t mean that we can’t also seek out some fellowship time with people who are similar. It’s good to try to strike a balance, especially with our kids. They need to be exposed to all kinds of people, and that certainly includes a few who don’t think Mom and Dad are nuts.

  • Mrs. Parunak

    Sweet Tweet,

    I will gladly pray for you. That’s a good request for everyone!

  • Muriel

    Great post.

    I read lots of blogs of people that live their life very different from my own. It helps me to rethink the choices I make, because sometimes we are very stuck in our ways, but don’t really know why we do things the way we do. It makes me stand stronger in what I believe, but I has also made me make some changes in my life.

  • You did such an amazing job writing this. Love is what it is all about, and if we love others as Christ has loved us, we will be a light that shines for all to see and come to!

  • Dear Mrs P,well you have obviously put into practise a great concept, live by your belief system but start a blog that allows debate and lets us all think about other ideas, but still be surrounded by loving friends and family who know us best and support us.If only the bible wasn’t so long it would be easier to interpret!I prefer my husbands title- little mennonite-the mennonites don’t exclude you if you don’t follow their belief system that’s why the amish and mennonites split years ago. In fact the anabaptist history is fascinating.From Linda

  • Marie

    L, I’m flabbergasted! I can’t believe you’re a reader here…but I’m glad you are. Good for you for being open-minded enough to find that common ground.

  • I’ve struggled with this for so long, wondering how to share my beliefs without making someone feel like I’m judging them! This was so well written and encouraged me so much…thank you :)

  • Sj

    A different perspective: I really am Beachy Amish or some folks say Amish Mennonite. Anabaptist is more correct. My husband and I serve in the Philippines. We work with street children and orpahns. We have had the gift of adopting 4 handicapped orphans from various countries. I think it is oftehna misconception of the world that all Amish or Mennonites live with their head stuck in the sand or are so alone that they might think that “oatmeal is the antichrist”. Just for a note the Amish do not wear long skirts or homeschool. THe church does not pass down convictions. I know many Amish and Mennonites who have differing convictions from one another. One may not allow denim another one has freeddom to do so. One may feel convicted about books with dressed animals while a neighbor has no problem with that… In Anabaptist circles the men are often meeting together and discussing the Bible. There is wisdom in that. There is opportunity every Sunday to offer corrections to the messages given and that often happens.
    I think as a society the modern evangelical church looks so much like the world so similar in views on Biblical issues like women being keepers at home, head coverings, modestly, divoce and re-marriage and loving enemies versus war that the Amish are thought of as hiding in a “comfy” cornor when in reality they just never went the worldly way of the evangelical church movement. I have seen many Amish and Mennonites “love” folks different from them. They are known for prision and orphan and widow ministries – those are some of the ministries Chirst said to have. They love but do not condone immoodesty, birthcontrol or the other things you wrote about because Scripture has something to say on those issues. I know many former drug addicts and other sinners who have converted within Anabaptist groups and are glad for a church that still holds a standard. Blessings to you as you keep yourself unspotted from the world.
    Sj

  • Great post!

    I often feel this way in homeschool circles. I’m an only child family and not quite as conservative, although I am very conservative. But I’ve learned I have to live my life the way I feel led and let others live their life the way they feel led. God has given each of us a different path to walk. And that’s ok. The great thing is we can all learn from each other and that makes for a much stronger body of Christ.

  • I really enjoyed your post, as I’m still figuring out how to be in the world but not of it. And I agree with your other poster that it’s important to acknowledge the “good-for-me-but-maybe-not-for-you attitude.”

  • Mrs Tumbas

    I think you cannot have it both ways, the bibke tells us to be careful with sitting on the fence. Either you feel convicted to do what the bible teaches and by the same word judgement is passed to all.
    Would you be free for your children to grow up and follow your teachings then to be unequally yoked with a modern age christian?
    It is true God will judge all and we should definitely not, but should we also take communion with those whose beliefs so differ to your own?

  • Mrs. Parunak

    Dear Mrs. Tumbas,

    You said that I can’t have it both ways, but I don’t think there’s any other way to have it.

    1 Corinthians 5:11 gives the criteria for not having fellowship with someone.

    But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.

    Not homeschooling, not wearing a headcovering, etc. are not on this list. I have convictions about them, but they are not things that God wants us to break fellowship over.

    Obviously, when it comes to marriage, we will have many struggles if our spouse doesn’t share our convictions, and I will certainly do everything I can to help our children find spouses whose beliefs are as compatible with theirs as possible.

    But as far as living my every day life goes, I can’t think of any other possibility besides sharing my beliefs and then loving people. My having beliefs does not imply judgment because I am not the judge. God is the judge. I can warn people that, as far as I can tell, they’re not doing the right thing, but in the end, they don’t answer to me. They answer to God, and He can sort things out.

  • Mrs Tumbas

    Completely understandable, however you need to be careful with words, many people look for excuses and faults in the bible to still claim they are christians eg. Homosexual marriage and still able to call themselves christians. Another thing is so many “Christians” are poisoned by their pastors and misrepresentations of the bible that they do not even know they are not following Gods word eg. Catholicism.
    Those who are spiritually enlightened should be helping those to see what’s right in God’s eyes, not allowing them to flounder knowing their convictions are contrary to God’s word. I do not mean to force your convictions but also not to sit back and accept anything. Love is the first commandment and by loving God we must also in love show those who are mislead the true ways.
    Your were so zealous in your previous posts regarding birth control, headcoverings etc and what of it now?
    I am not trying to be contentious sorry.

  • L.

    Mrs. Tumbas, here’s some unsolicited advice from someone you would consider a “nonbeliever” — if you are serious about helping others see what you truly believe is the right path for everyone, you are unlikely to win hearts and minds with phrases like “poisoned by their pastors.” What is the use of showing “those who are the mislead the true ways,” if your manner leads them to close themselves to what you are saying?

  • Good thoughts here. We live a life similar to yours in conviction a traditional Catholics, and I’ve often felt that same “censure” from others who assume I condemn their way of life because of the way I live my own… You express so well that balance of feeling convicted in my own belief and feeling mercy on those who don’t share it. It’s not the charity that I’ve found hard, though, so much as reconciling others’ misconceptions about me — or what i worry are their misconceptions… &:o) The key word I found in this post is God’s “time.” He’s working on all of us, whether we know it or will accept it. That’s where I find the bridge between all of us.

  • Sj

    Jesus says, “”But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand” Did Jesus love, yes? But who are we to say what commandments can be tossed aside. Scripture does teach that a woman should cover her head. That we are to love our enemies stands in contradiction to believers actually taking up arms in war. Whoever divorces and remarrys is in adultry, Scripture does teach us ladies to be keepers at home, modest… in our culture today some of us are terrified to take a Biblical stand at all. I used to be embarrassed. I so wanted to show what I thought was love that I condoned sin. Now before you missunderstand I DO agree that we conservative homeschooler types have a tendancy to write off others by adding to Scripture and we are warned from this. For example, today I was clearly judged not for not covering my head but for wearing the wrong covering. Another lady not knowing that I just returned from another country looked at my open sandals instead of my lace up black shoes which she felt proper and tossed me a look of disdain but then I have the job of also showing her love when I am thought of wrongly. If you have read all of this I do have a question. I have no problem loving and embracing and bringing into my home the sinner on the street but how do we handle a beleiver who has changed convictions that radically differ from the way we have been parenting. For example, we beleive the Bible does teach women to cover and wear ladies clothing and be modest. Recently our friend has removed the covering and dresses etc… she was close with us and is a great influence on our daughters. Do we keep fellowshipping and confise our daughters or cut off fellowship? This is a difficult thing.

  • Mrs Tumbas

    L, I am sorry you take the defensive so quickly. I would like to ask, please do not think me accusing or trying to really prove myself, however What do your pastors teach about the end times? Do they explain the baptism of fire? Do you understand that when the Anti-christ comes and christians are commanded to not take his marking, that you will be persecuted? That you will be crying out to God to help your family, that your children are starving, other christians you know have died from hunger, The Lord will provide but in spiritual ways more than the physical.
    In our church we suffered severe persecution in Europe from those even who claimed to be christians, our brothers, fathers, men refused to take arms during the war and even in the communist regime. This was still happening in Hungary until the 80′s. Many people told them to take a gun and not use it, they claimed themselves to be christians. They were called stubborn and selfish to not think of their families.
    Do you think it is a wonder why many conservative christian prefer to stick together in groups? The amish were severly persecuted that is why they prefer isolation and separation.
    When I was younger I sought other churches and found them to be dead, reputations of being alive, but dead! In our churches we have had many young people mixing with outsiders and thus strayed far from the anabaptist and Nazarene faith, they try to bring in little things at a time and thus the church becomes defiled in the end they forget the trials their brothers faced and prefer the new-age where the preach about Love and Jesus accepts all, women ministers, same-sex marriage, drunkeness, multiple baptisms, even a headcovering is offensive.
    You cannot pick and choose what you want in christianity and the bible. God never changes. Christianity has become satans grocery store, where you enter the cereal isle and all the shelves are filled with high calorie, sugery, unwholesome grains, these are these new age faiths. In a small section down in the corner is the bran, untasteful, the healthiest and wholesome. This is what true christianity should be.
    Matthew 22:14
    For many are called, but few are chosen.

    This is not a personal attack sorry L, I got a little carried away, but I would like to explain why some conservative christians act in ways which may be thought of proud or judging.

  • L.

    Mrs. Tumbas, I see no personal attack at all in your words — you are clearly a woman of great conviction, and even though I don’t know you, I believe you mean well and want everyone to be closer to God. (As for what my own pastor says, let’s just say I am confident you would never count me among true believers!) I only know you from these comments here, and I admit I do see lots of judging in your words. People looking for God’s light might misinterpret harsh, judgemental language as a sign of darkness. That’s all I’m saying — I’m not arguing with WHAT you’re saying, just commenting on HOW you’re saying it. And as you describe, you have your own particular reasons for approaching God’s message in that way, so…..it is what it is. I don’t mean my observations as a personal attack on you, either, and I wish you well.

  • L.

    Unrelated observation — even from a strictly non-religious point of view, 1 Corinthians 5:11 makes perfect sense.

    I personally don’t want to keep fellowship with fornicators, or people who covet or rail too much, or drink too much and won’t admit they have a problem, and certainly not with extortioners! I’m perfectly okay with idolaters since my husband is Japanese, but I try to keep the rest of the bunch away from my kids.

  • NP

    I’ve been following this blog for a long time and even though I’m not a Christian i find we share a lot of values. I had tried in the past to comment but failed since i was using a blackberry.
    This goes to L.
    How is it possible that you don’t keep fellowship (with fornicators, or people who covet or rail too much, or drink too much and won’t admit they have a problem, and certainly not with extortioners!)as you said in your comment. But you keep fellowship with idolaters thus betraying the very same being (God almighty) who warns you from keeping company with the above mentioned?
    Just from my point of view… picking and choosing from one’s religion doesn’t bring anything but the distortion of it’s teachings.

  • L.

    NP, I am not a religious person, overall. I do believe God sent me my husband, who doesn’t happen to be a Christian. I understand others would not have made the same choice I did, and I know that some people are certainly “not okay” with that choice — or with many of my choices in life. I understand this, and I accept this.

    I was being tongue-in-cheek when I called him an “idolator” — it’s all a matter of definition. Since he and I were never had our union blessed in any kind of Christian marriage ceremony, I guess some people might consider us fornicators ourselves! I accept this, too.

    One of the reasons I enjoy this blog is that it reminds me of a Christian women’s group I joined in Los Angeles, more than 10 years ago. We had moved there because of my husband’s job, and I had no job and no family there, and struggled to make friends. My husband traveled a lot and I was at home with an infant a toddler. I was so lonely that I finally overcame my fears and joined a Christian mothers’ group that was open to everyone. I was met with kindness, openness and Christian love, despite the fact that I did not share all of their beliefs. I have never forgotten the experience. Many of the commenters here, as well as Mrs. Parunak herself, remind me of those women.

  • Mrs. Parunak

    Ladies,

    Thank you everyone for the lively discussion!

    Mrs. Tumbas,

    No need to apologize for saying what you think! That’s exactly the point I was trying to make. We should all be free to talk about our deepest convictions. You ask:

    Your were so zealous in your previous posts regarding birth control, headcoverings etc and what of it now?

    Answer: I’m just as zealous as I ever was! And I have every intention of continuing to call ‘em like I see ‘em. But a lot of people seem to take it personally when I write about things that they genuinely (and even prayerfully) disagree with. I wanted to make it explicit that I’m not setting myself up as “The Standard.” God is the standard, and we should all be seeking His truth and helping each other along the way. Loving people does not mean that we stop saying what we believe, only that we’re humble and gracious with those who truly don’t see things our way.

    SJ,

    I never meant to imply that the Amish are not loving. I’m sorry if I gave that impression because nothing could be further from the truth! I wasn’t trying to say anything about Amish people. I only brought them up as a description of how conservative I am. I’m sorry that I wasn’t more clear.

    My heart goes out to you in your difficult situation with your family friend who has changed her convictions so much. Since you asked, here is what I would do if I were in your shoes (or sandals :) ). Ephesians 4:3 tells us to endeavor “to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” I believe the Bible is very clear about what we are to break fellowship over. Anything that is outside of that list I think falls into the category of something we are to work through. I would certainly discuss with my children why I feel that this lady is doing the wrong thing, point out the specific verses that I felt she was disobeying, and then say something like this: “We need to love her and try to help her see where she is not following the Lord, and we also need to pray for ourselves that God would not let us sin without realizing it ourselves, because if she does not know that she is disobeying, then there could be things in our lives that we are getting wrong, too.” Yes, I believe that a woman who is not covering her head is disobeying the Lord. However, I disobeyed the Lord today when I got angry at one of my children for being too rough with the baby. If everyone who ever sinned were cut off from fellowship, then there would be no one in fellowship at all, and then there would be no one to help us work through our daily battles with our flesh.

  • What a great post. I’m so glad I stopped by, and will be back to read some more.

  • Funny, coming across this now, right after I mentioned the Amish in post of my own. I think, as you mentioned in some comments, that it’s important to strike a balance. You don’t want to isolate yourself from the world (be in it, not of it), because otherwise how will you reach people with Christ’s love? And neither do you want to isolate yourself from believers who, as you say, don’t think you and your husband are crazy. ;) It can certainly be frustrating to be “the only ones” in your circle of influence to have convictions like the ones you mentioned (and that I myself hold to for the most part). Perhaps that’s what my “Amish Rant” post (which did not actually rant about the Amish by any means) stemmed from… frustration in seeming so alone with all the world attacking. All that ramble to say, THANK YOU for your well-time words, even though you actually wrote this forever ago, haha.

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