My Morning Conversation with an Amish Man

This morning on the walk to school, we passed a neighbor’s house.  We live not so far from Amish communities, but still, I’m shocked at what I see.  20 or so workers (mostly Amish men) stood on the roof of my neighbors house, working fast.  On the ground, one Amish man directed the rest.  We walked by a little sheepishly–I felt like I was interrupting something.  “Wow, you have a lot of workers up there,” I said to him.  (I’ve never had a conversation with an Amish man before, so I’m standing there wondering what he’s thinking about me in my jean shorts and sleeveless top.  All of a sudden, I’m so aware of what I look like.  I’m so aware of my daughters and their clothing, the sparkles on their shirts, their shorts.)

“We’ll have that roof finished by the end of the day,” he smiled proudly, his arms crossed.

We walk on.  I’m thinking about flair as I look back because what I encounter with the Amish man seems so important, so potentially blog-worthy.  But the Amish, on the surface, seem devoid of physical flair.  The whole community shuns ornamentation, embellishment, glitz, and glam.  The women cover themselves completely–they don’t wear patterns, even.  They don’t wear jewelry.

 So why are the flair bells ringing?  

A few days ago I asked my husband what he thinks it requires for Amish parents to maintain that counter-cultural lifestyle in their children when living adjacent to us modern folk. Do they constantly reinforce cultural standards at every opportunity? 

Just this morning, my daughter and I had a conversation about modesty.  She wants to wear the tiny tank tops and “short shorts” of her peers, and I told her that God wants us to be modest and not show too much of our bodies.   I ask her to change into some longer shorts. 

So before we see that Amish man, I’m telling her that her body is precious and special and she doesn’t need to wear clothes that make her seem older.  And even when she’s older, I want the most important thing about her to be her sweet heart and not her curves.

Then we look up and see the Amish people right smack in the middle of my street.

It’s not so hard to go against the culture.  It’s not so hard to be a parent and instill rules about clothing.  My encounter with the Amish this morning was a well-timed flair moment, right on the heels of my own counter-cultural discussion with my daughter.   We may not have the same task as our Amish friends, but we do go against the culture in some ways.   And we should.

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  1. Hey Ruth Ann! Good call! The short shorts were last year's long shorts that were now too short. Also, we get a lot of clothes given to us by friends–hand me downs–that I don't sort closely enough!

  2. It's so hard to explain to kids sometimes why mainstream habits are not always the best ones to follow. But you did an excellent job with it. Your kids are very lucky.