I've been relaxed on writing for a while - surgery, a new grandson, a daughter's wedding. Life.
But that doesn't mean I've "sat out" on learning about the Amish and those who leave nor on helping ex-Amish who come across my path.
Thin, quiet Jacob is the newest "fence jumper" who landed in my life. He asked me to teach him to drive . . . using my car. Husband refuses to ride along when ex-Amish learn that a vehicle is stronger and faster than a buggy. So Jacob and I drove alone through parking lots, back roads, practiced parking, and reviewed road rules.
During my blogging vacation, I've thought of my next post and decided to share the Good, Bad, and Ugly about former Amish whom I personally know, have helped or met.
If you read my book then you've met Josh (Chapter 3). Since the book's publication, Josh married Sarah (another chapter). We attended their lovely wedding and later helped them pack and move to Colorado, where Josh is attending a Bible college and they're employed as lodge property managers. They're surrounded by an incredibly beautiful mountain view. With new friends and connections, they're happy. I miss them.
They've made good choices. They've also experienced something thrilling and life-changing . . . becoming Mom and Dad! Yup, Sarah gave birth to their first child, a son, in April 2017. He's healthy and handsome, and they are happy. It's good. It's all good. *smile face*
I've met and talked with hundreds of ex-Amish. Many of them are . . . suspicious . . . of us! They are wary of our (English) motives. I realize not all Amish and formers are the same, but in my experience, I've run across many who don't trust English.
One ex-Amish gal agreed to meet me for lunch and a chat. We swapped stories, laughed, and shared about mutual friends. Then she bluntly asked, "What do you want from me?"
"I just want to get acquainted with you. I want nothing from you." And, no, she's not in my book.
Another ex-Amish gal, who writes her own blog recently charged, "You're not going to take my stuff, are you?"
"No." As a multi-published author, former columnist, and writer of hundreds of articles I don't need to "take" from her or anyone. Maybe she doesn't know making someone else's words look/sound like your own is plagiarism. That's illegal. Plus I've no use for her personal material, I've enough on my own. It offended me that she'd be so mistrustful to worry I'd take her blog material as my own. *eyeroll*
And yet another ex-Amish accused me of lying to him! He misunderstood me, was disappointed, and thought I'd lied to him. Even after my attempts to discuss the situation and try to clear the air, he maintained his position that I'm a liar. *sad face*
If you read Chapter 7 of Beyond Buggies and Bonnets, perhaps you felt my pain after a couple ex-Amish turned on me, accusing me of malicious intent. They gossiped and made up falsehoods about my family, too.
From conversations with Mosie and others, I've heard that many Amish are taught to suspect and spurn the English . . . except when they want to sell us something. Again, this doesn't represent ALL of 'em but seems to be ringing right in my experience.
Wish I didn't have to reveal this; it's ugly and disappoints me. I share it so people who romanticize the Amish and live with blinders on that all Amish are "simple" or "good" will see another side. This situation is neither simple nor good.
A married Amish man wanted me to teach him to drive. I did. I also invited him, his wife and kiddos to our church. I remember taking him to the store so he could buy his kids Christmas gifts. When he left Amish, he asked me to help him find car seats so his youngsters could ride in his car. While his wife refused to leave, she tolerated him living in their home, continued to feed him and do his laundry -- all against the Ordnung. Technically, the Church shunned him.
He's now having affairs, is porn addicted, manipulates the truth - depending on who he's talking to - has speeding tickets, and was briefly incarcerated. He's moved out away from family and rarely visits his kids and wife. For her this means, she CANNOT remarry (even if they do divorce) and must support herself and their children - this settlement accepts no public assistance from English programs.
"The Amish treat me as if I'm dead," he once whined to me.
Well, to them, your wife, and children, you ARE was my private thought.
I grieve that he's ignoring his wife and children while living in the English world. To me it seems his choices are neither healthy, mature, nor responsible.
We all make bad decisions - that doesn't make us bad people. My love and concern for this man is intact, but things have turned out ugly for his family since he left Amish.