BettySue, thank you for your perspective.
DebbieS wrote: The Amish lifestyle has always appealed to me, but taken the life you have found; hinders my decision to actually want to be of their heritage. Your mind and personality would have gone to the wayside! I have been wondering, so happy that you are offering to answer questions, do the women shun you or show envy toward you for the moves you have made with your life?
Debbie, this is a very thought-provoking question, and one that I simply don’t know the answer to. I don’t have that much contact with the people in the community any more, and even if I did, I think they would not reveal their jealousy any more than they do any of their other feelings.
When I went back for my father’s funeral, and a year later for my mother’s, I was very touched by how friendly the people from my former community were to me. Many cousins came and asked me, “Do you remember me?” Then they would recall memories that I would have forgotten, had they not reminded me. In one case I asked one of my cousins if she would have known me, had she seen me in a different place and time. She said, “I would have known you by your smile.” I was so touched by that, because she was seeing me for who I am, without judgment and with no animosity.
My mother once made a remark that really surprised me. She and I were talking about how the bishop had criticized me so much when I was teaching school. I said I didn’t understand why he was so judgmental for the way I combed my hair, or for taking up jogging. My mother was silent for a moment, and then she said, “Perhaps you don’t realize the effect you had on other people, especially young women. I think he was concerned that others would want to follow in your footsteps.” I just looked at my mother flabbergasted. I simply had no idea.
So, if I were to take a guess, I would say that the women don’t envy me. I think it would be different if I were still living in the community, but I am removed from any kind of competition in the community for being gut oh szene or well-regarded. Therefore, I simply wouldn’t know it if someone is envious.
About shunning: the women in my community do need to formally shun me, which they do. In my home community that means they cannot eat with me, accept gifts from me, ride in my car, or do business with me. It doesn’t stop us from visiting, though.
Debbie, this was a very good question — one that has caused me to do some self-reflection. Thank you very much.
Once in a while I have to remind myself of what my life would be like, had I not left my community… this photo was taken last spring, on a day when these people were walking home from Communion Services. This is a service that happens twice a year and it lasts all day, which means sitting on a backless bench, listening to preaching all day. These used to be the longest two days of the year for me. By the same token, looking at this picture brings a certain nostalgia for the community atmosphere that the Amish have. I keep thinking about the remark Rossyln Elliott made on my blog some time ago, “The flaws of each community are always bound into its strengths.” I find this to be so very true about the Amish community I chose to leave.