Understanding the Amish

posted: 08/30/12
by: TLC

What is it like to live among the Amish? In this personal account, one Amish insider offers a perspective of the lifestyle.

Modesty, morals, forgiveness and love are the most important things in an Amish community.

One of the most positive things about living in an Amish community is that you have the entire community behind you when tragedy strikes. If a freak accident occurs -- like someone's barn burning down -- the entire community comes together on a Saturday for a barn raising. They can rebuild an entire structure in a day. When someone gets laid up, the community helps with outdoor work and farm work. The women will take turns making a meal every night and taking it to the ailing family. And if the family can't pay hospital bills for the injury, the whole community will pay a portion.

In cases of death, no one grieves alone. When someone passes away, people start flocking to your house and clean it from top to bottom. They'll move furniture, sew black clothing for mourning, and ensure the family is ready for the viewing and the funeral, both of which take place at home. If the family's house isn't sufficient, a neighbor will offer his house to them until the process is over.

No matter what you go through you are never alone. You have the entire community behind you.

Amish people believe in keeping everything as simple as possible. That's why we have no electricity, no television, no cell phones, no computers, no movies and no video games.

Keeping things simple keeps us family-oriented. Families eat dinner every night. After dinner, they gather in the living room, read stories, say a bedtime prayer, play games, and then send the kids to bed.

Modesty is very important to our Amish culture. We dress how we do because no one except our husbands are supposed to know what our body looks like. That's for his eyes only. We try to eliminate as much temptation as we possibly can. Our dresses are long and conservative, and our hair is always in a bun tucked neatly under a covering.

That's why we are forbidden to venture into the outside. Some women are not appropriately dressed, which can create temptation for the men. And having a baby outside of marriage is not allowed. If an Amish man gets a girl pregnant, he's forced to marry her, period. You should take care of what you created.

When someone chooses to leave the Amish, the punishment is harsh only because the community believes it's for the best interest of their child. They think if they just accept it and let it happen that the one gone astray will never learn a lesson. If he is punished and shunned, he will realize what he had and return to the fold.

In an Amish community, you will find, forgiveness, grace and love. When you return after you have been astray, there is always an opportunity to make amends with the church and the community.

-- Text provided by a member of the Amish community

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