The Amish Workshops website has an interesting feature called Ask Viola. Viola is a young Amish woman who answers reader questions on many topics. Below you’ll find Viola’s answer to a question from a seeker.
Joining the Amish has been covered here multiple times before. On this topic especially, the words of an Amish person or former seeker are going to be the most powerful. Viola’s last line in particular caught my attention:
I am curious to know how to go about becoming Amish. Some have told me that I would not do well in an Amish community because I have grown up in the modern world. Honestly I believe this world is not a place I want to continue the rest of my life in and when I consider how the Amish are living and doing things; I feel I should have had a choice in the matter. I did not willingly choose the life I was given. What are your thoughts on all this?
If you sincerely wish to become Amish, because you think God is pointing you in that direction, I would suggest talking to an Amish bishop or minister to find out what is expected of you as a church member. Then spend a few years living in the community as the Amish do. Learn the language and the customs for at least three to four years. After this time you will have a fuller understanding of the choice you will be making.
If you still wish to be Amish, you can join the church to become a member. It is an extremely sad hardship for the Amish community when people join in haste and later leave. Once you commit to being a member (committing to serve Christ with all your heart, soul, mind and strength), you are bound to that promise for life. You promise God and the church to be an upstanding member, doing all you can for the good of the church with the help of God.
P.S. – None of us choose where we are born, or to whom. God puts us where he wants us and He makes no mistakes. Perhaps that is why the Apostle Paul wrote: “…for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” (Phillipians 4:11) Of course that doesn’t mean we should go on living a sinful life, but to bloom where we are planted.
As it happens, yesterday I corresponded with someone who would like to join the Swartzentruber Amish. I referred him to this response.
I admit I’m partial to Viola’s answer because I’ve always liked the idea behind “bloom where you are planted”. To me it means being the best you can be in the circumstances you are in. It speaks against being restless and always searching for greener grass.
However, can it also be a rationalization for complacency in a poor situation? When is transplanting in fact a better option?
In the context of religion, we have seen multiple stories of people who have successfully become Amish. But this is a question for any area of life, applying not just to faith matters but also to things like relationships or employment.
What do you think? How do you interpret “bloom where you’re planted”? Have you ever decided to bloom where you’re planted, or done the opposite instead?
Blooming flower: James P. Mann/flickr