Yesterday I watched a movie called "The Shunning", which was based on a book of the same name by Beverly Lewis. It wasn't the first movie about Amish people but it was the first I'd seen of Ms. Lewis stories.
Since my first visit to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, I've had an interest in the ways of the Amish people. Of course, my knowledge of them is rather limited, but my curiousity is great. In the last few months, I've discovered the lovliest blog, written by a sweet woman who was raised by parents in a community of Amish people. She has since left the Amish community, and as a result has been shunned.
I've learned much about my concepts of Amish life by reading this blog. She has corrected my false thinking about their religious beliefs and lifestyles. I've learned that many of the books written and movies made are not factual. But, apparently, the word 'shunning', meaning 'having nothing to do with' is a reality.
I cannot understand how any parent can ignore their child to the point where they have nothing to do with them, especially when it's a matter of choosing a different lifestyle or religious way of life.
I have had situations with my children, where they've exercised their will over my teaching. They don't live their lives in ways that I approve of, at times, and have not followed the Christian beliefs that I do my best to live daily. Sometimes all that cuts me to the core and hurts deeply, but I know that each of us must find their own way in this world. I might want to choose a different job for my children or I might want to direct the steps they take in life. I might wish for them to have a very real relationship with Christ, and/or to go to church regularly. I might like to see them raise their children differently. I might want to control everything they do because I think my way is right and theirs is not, but that is not mine to do.
My children make their own choices, based on their own beliefs and wants. They do what they think is best giving little thought to what I think. They do, of course, respect me, even if their way might be quite different from mine. I respect them, as well, regardless of the difference in our choices. I am not perfect and I've made mistakes. They, too, must find their way, hopefully learning from their mistakes, and turning them into better life choices.
So, when my door opens and there is one of my children standing there, they are welcome. When they are not here, the phone or computer lines keep us close. I hear things in our visits sometimes that I would rather not hear, and I may offer my words of advice, but I don't often expect that it will necessarily be heeded. These adult children have their own desires, their own beliefs, their own ways of living. Do they need me? Yes they do, but they don't need chastising at this age or my turning against them because we think differently.
Shunning is a part of the Amish belief, and though I do not understand it or make it a part of my own life, I cannot fault those people who do it as part of their own beliefs. However, I hurt for the children, and for the parents, of those who have been cast off. How sad to me that their flesh and blood may no longer mingle as family.