On our recent family trip to Iowa we took a tour of an Amish community– rode in a van with a tour guide through rolling farmland and saw homestead after homestead of Old Order Amish families, working in gardens, driving wagons down the highway, running through the fields barefoot… there are 2,000 Amish living near Kalona, Iowa (almost 200,000 in the U.S.) and according to our guide, the community is growing, thanks to their large average family size. It was fascinating, like something straight out of the movie, Witness, but Emmie thought it was just plain stupid that anyone would want to live like that. No electricity (the Amish stores we visited used only skylights for lighting), no in-home phones, schooling only through the 8th grade, long pants and dresses all the time, even in the hot summertime… They subscribe to this type of lifestyle due in part to a Bible verse that advises “do not be conformed to this world” (Romans 12:2) and similar verses in other chapters that refer to not being “of the world”.
While most of us gawking tourists probably thought we had nothing in common with the hat-clad people outside our van windows, it struck me later that all uncool moms and any parent who’s ever tried to pull their kids back from the “everybody’s doing it so why can’t I” attitude has a bit of the Amish, and scripture, in their actions (and if you’re really uncool like me and have your kids do their own laundry and other chores, you share even more in common!). Who knew that “Just because your friends jump off a cliff doesn’t mean you have to do the same!” was inspired over 2,000 years ago?! (Well, God is a parent, after all…)
So, in addition to the postcards and apple butter I brought home, I’ve also got a few new items to add to my arsenal of parenting lines. Now when one of my kids defiantly asks, “Why can’t I?” I might choose to answer, “Because God says so!” or “Because the Bible says so!” or, “BECA– USE I’M GOING AMISH ON YOUR ASS, THAT”S WHY!!!” (Oops, sorry, I wouldn’t really say that…I’m still a little sleep deprived from that long drive back from Iowa…)