Somehow I started watching a documentary on PBS about people who grew up Amish and decided to move to the modern world. Their reasons were different from each other but an overlaying theme among them was that the lifestyle traditions became too restrictive. Not in a technology way… in a spiritual way. There wasn’t opportunity to think for oneself in their culture… to process spiritually why a certain rule had to be followed.
The WHY’s. That’s the good, gritty spiritual stuff.
The response of the community elders was that you don’t question because you don’t need to…”This is the way it has always been done and the way it will continue to be done.” It was drilled into the culture.
So these people stepped away and made a new life despite growing up being told that it’s literally making a choice between heaven and hell.
These people lose their community, their families, and their sense of tradition. Although they know it’s the right decision for them and they would never want to go back, they grieve that life. They grieve the comfort of what they can never experience again. That ease. Conversations with once close family members (if they aren’t excommunicated) are difficult and strained because they cannot relate to each other anymore. The worlds are too different.
So….I’m watching this and hearing their stories and it’s like a switch was flipped and I totally got what they were experiencing. Needless to say, the day I related to the Amish took me by surprise.
But I do feel it is a small, extreme example of my experience with the christian bubble. When I was an avid, loyal church goer, it was my LIFE. It is 100% it’s own culture in this American landscape, so I don’t feel it is reaching to compare it to an Amish person stepping away from their spiritual culture.
I relate not only because I have struggled with a spiritually legalistic background but also because of the way they discussed the aftermath of what comes after stepping away. To be so wrapped up into that world. To LIVE it day-in and day-out since the day you were born, to know the ins-and-outs, the lingo, the rules, have all friends and family from this culture, know the traditions/events… Even if you want to get away from all of it, it is known and there is a certain level of comfort in that.
Every once in awhile it’ll hit me. I miss the relationships that are created when you’re all on the same page. I miss the instaCommunity of the typical church …. I could walk in and have 10 new best friends at the new women’s bible study…. but now I just don’t feel like we can relate. I don’t have anything to say anymore. We’re just not looking for the same things.
I’m trying to find myself a new normal in spiritual community, but am floundering trying to move where I feel I’m supposed to be. I want to walk this road with people, but feel like I kind of suck at building relationships in this unknown territory.
I wouldn’t change a thing, would never go back… but tonight I’m a bit weary and perhaps spiritually lonely.
So for now I’ll just be thankful to a few amish rebels for giving me a little moment of “I’m not alone in stepping away from all that once defined you.”
Relating with the Amish – Who knew?