The Amish folks don’t get to pick and choose which principles they integrate into their daily lives. The Ordnung (the unwritten rules of the Amish) doesn’t give them that option. They are expected to practice all areas of their faith to the best of their ability. But what can we—their Englisch friends—learn by selecting aspects of the Amish faith to incorporate into our daily lives?
Most of us wouldn’t opt out on air conditioning. In Texas where I live, that could actually be a death sentence in the heat of the summer. But what are some benefits that come from living like the Plain People?
I started publishing Amish fiction in 2008, and soon realized, along with my fellow Amish authors, that we had our work cut out for us. We either had Amish friends, lived near the Amish, or did a significant amount of research in an effort to keep our stories as authentic as possible. The appetites for stories about the Plain People were insatiable, and the genre is still in high demand all these years later. Why?
That question has been answered by many authors, publishers, and various media outlets, but what I want to talk about today are the surprises that caught me off guard along the way. I always hope that in some way my books minister to others. But, I soon realized that I was ministering to myself as well as to my readers. As I gathered information and got to know the Amish folks better, I found myself doing what they don’t have the luxury of doing—picking and choosing aspects of their lives that appealed to me. And even though I wasn’t wearing a prayer covering and giving up my air conditioning, I felt stronger in my faith.
Here are a few things that I integrated into my life as a result of my association with the Amish folks. Mostly positive results, but not all.
- I write a lot about fear and worry in my stories. It’s a sin, but it rears its ugly head just the same, and I’m definitely not immune. But through writing about the Amish folks, it stays in the forefront of my mind that these people put their total trust in God believing that everything that happens is His will. I try very hard these days to ‘Let go and let God’.
- I think that nearly everyone is aware of the tragic school shooting in Lancaster County and the way the Amish folks were so forgiving. I don’t have a terribly hard time forgiving others, but I have a very hard time forgiving myself if I feel I’ve wronged another person, even if unintentionally. But we should forgive ourselves as easily as we forgive others because carrying the burden will weigh us down either way. So, that’s another thing I work on more since I’ve been writing Amish fiction.
- One year at Christmas time, I felt like I was too busy to put up a tree and a ton of decorations. I gave myself permission to celebrate the holiday season like my Amish friends. So, instead of putting up a tree, I decorated the way they do — no tree and very few decorations. I displayed my wrapped presents in different areas of the house, the way many of the Amish people do. Simple. Easy. And … it did not work for me. I missed it all, and that was the only year I’ve never had a Christmas tree.
- I pray more. A lot more. And I’m more educated about the Bible. I’m no scholar or theologian by any means, but I seek a better biblical understanding these days. I ask a lot of questions. And God puts the answers on my heart, and lets me know what I need to be sharing with readers.
In summary, my association with the Plain People has made me want to be a better person. I want to be stronger in my faith. I want to be more forgiving of others and of myself. I want to keep listening and learning. I want to calm down and not worry myself sick about my children, deadlines, and all the other things that can invoke a bout of anxiety. Life IS about the destination. But it’s also about the journey, and I try really hard to walk the walk, not just talk the talk. And that, my friends…I learned from the Plain People.
Wishing you all many blessings on your own journey.
Beth Wiseman is the best-selling author of over 1.3 million books, and she was the recipient of the prestigious Carol Award in 2011 and 2013. She is also a three-time winner of the Inspirational Readers Choice Award, and in 2013 she took home the coveted Holt Medallion. Her latest book, Her Brother’s Keeper, is now available. You can order it here.
As a former newspaper reporter, Beth was honored by her peers with eleven journalism awards, including first place news writing for The Texas Press Association. She left her job as a journalist in 2008 to write novels full time.