Monday, March 29, 2010

Amish Grace

Amish may be all the buzz around the water coolers today (for women that is).  Except I don't have a water cooler to mingle around and visit with my girls!  Most of you live in my computer, in other parts of the country and world!  So, we're gonna talk Amish Grace on the blogs today!
Joy and I have a little blog called Our Journey to the Well and it came as a big surprise to us when the folks at Lifetime Movie Network contacted Joy through an e-mail about promoting this movie on our blog.  Pretty exciting for us country girls from nowhere.  We talked about it with one another for days!  That there must be a big message there that God wants us to hear, as well as many others.  After watching the movie last night..... well, WOW.  MANY lessons there.  What an incredible story that came from such a tragedy.

Without trying to give too much away (for those who haven't gotten to see it yet!) I was amazed at the lessons that kept coming at me.  Not just the overall point of forgiveness.  I saw many things in this movie.

You see, my husband and I talk about Amish life sometimes.  How wonderful it must be to have things so simple.  We live 10 minutes from one of the biggest Amish communities in our state.  Amish culture is something you are witness to on a daily basis.  It's always a blessing to do my shopping when I go to the bulk store to get flour and such.  Or taking my son to the cheese factory on field trips and days that we want to get out, just because.  Him getting to meet the other children, getting to see the lifestyle makes our kids stop and think a bit about our lives.

The things that stand out in my mind about the movie, I'm sure were different for everyone.  Examining the life of the shooter's family, you could tell he was withdrawn because of his grief but you never once saw him angry or abusive with his family.  His wife attended Bible study regularly and when the Amish elders came to visit her as they mentioned how and why they must forgive she cited the scripture reference to them.

This was a family that became as broken as the Amish families that lost their loved ones.  Is it more/less/same shock from a family experiencing a tragic event and losing their child/ren than a woman who not only lost her husband but had to deal with the grief and guilt of not really knowing who/what he was in the long run?  The Amish perspective made you think about her grief as well.  Not to just be angry with someone for the violent act they commit but to feel the pain and suffering that must be inside their heart to have brought them to such a dark place.

The strength of the Amish community and people to stop and pray--there's a lesson we can all learn.  Sure, we tell people we are praying for them, or we need to pray for this or I'll put you on the prayer list.  But when someone asks you to pray for them, how often do you REALLY stop what you are doing to pray?  This is something I have been pushing myself to do in the last few months.  Our prayers are heard by God if we are His children.  Why would I not want to talk to Him?

If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer."
--Matthew 21:22

When the elders went to the widow's house you expected what they were going to say.  After all, it's what the movie was about.  Forgiveness.  You expected them to say they forgive the shooter.  (It was a preview after all.)  What you didn't expect was them telling the widow that if there was anything they could do for her or her family to please tell them.  They wanted to help her in any way they could.  Wow....  going beyond forgiveness.  The second greatest command....

The entire law is summed up in a single command: 
"Love your neighbor as yourself."
--Galatians 5:14

How do you tell someone who is the wife of the person that just murdered your daughter you would do whatever you could to serve them?  ONLY with God....and I believe I would struggle.  Terribly.

Another part of the movie that took me a while to grasp was the shunning.  Ida's sister had been shunned yet she missed her so.  Kept contact through her letters and photos she sent, which was wrong.  I ask my husband how they could shun someone if they have such a strong faith and such a willingness to serve and love everyone?  Then it dawned on me....

We've been discussing the same thing (basically) in Sunday school.  Church discipline.  You don't discipline (or shun) someone without doing it in love.  It is done in hopes that it will turn the persons heart to come back to what is right.  To what God wants for them.  To not live as a worldly person, but as a Godly person.  (which might I point out we all fail at most days...  some days miserably!).  Shunning is no different in this sense.  Lessons to learn and study on.

I think I would have reacted in much the same way Ida did.  Wanting to run from a people who didn't seem to understand my grief.  Wanting to harbor hate and pain for the person who shattered my world.  And then the bombshell....  her daughter lived with her heart in line with just what they had taught her.  There's one I won't spoil for you.  You'll have to watch the movie.  Her words so profound that it's like grabbing her mother and shaking her silly.  Back to what she knows to be true.  Forgiveness.

One woman's words to the grief counselor was how she starts everyday in sorrow and anger and has to offer it up to God to get it out of her heart so it doesn't consume her.  And continues to do so....  sometimes every few minutes, every hour.  Showing us it's definitely NOT the easy way.  But it is THE way.


When the widow is broken and standing at the grave of her husband...  The man she knew to be so good.  A good husband, a good provider, a good father.   ...she stands alone with few friends and family to rally around her.  To comfort her.  A woman from a big church, full of 'Christians'.  A group of Christians that could learn a lesson from the Amish community who came to her side at the burial of her husband.  Wow.....  it just kept getting better.

First forgiveness.

Then support and offering help to the widow.

Then surrounding her with love at the funeral of her husband.

How amazing.  I would like to think I could do the same in such a situation.  To forgive someone who could do me such harm and wrong.  Yet, I remind myself there are people who have hurt me much less, in much more insignificant ways and I've struggled with how to forgive them.  Boy oh boy I have a lot to work on.

It becomes much easier when your walk with God becomes stronger.  When you learn to put God above ALL else in your life.  He shows you how to live, you strive to live in a way that pleases him.  But we also fall very short of what he expects most days.   I'm sure there was much more to the actual events than could be portrayed in the movie.  Besides the graphic nature of the whole incident, the anger and bitterness that had to be present even among other members of the community these people lived in.  I imagine this was a very controversial issue for this town for quite some time.

We could all learn a few lessons from Amish Grace.  I hope if you missed it last night that you can find a chance to watch it again.  For those that missed the "Amish Grace" premiere, here are the dates/times for re-play.
Thursday, April 1, 8 pm/et

Friday, April 2, 12 am/et
Check with your cable provider for the correct channel and times for your area.  Please note this is on Lifetime Movie Network and NOT Lifetime channel!

Also, for you book lovers (who doesn't love a good book?!), the books are always better than movies!  You can read an excerpt from Amish Grace by clicking HERE
You can find the book here on Amazon.  There's also another book about this tragedy from Rebecca Sue's perspective (one of the children at the school).  It's called The Happening - Nickel Mines School Tragedy and can be purchased HERE.  

I purchased this one at the book store in our Amish community and have yet to read it.  I just knew the events and the story and thought it would be an interesting read.  Definitely, now I have to dive into it!

Also, if you are wanting more information on the movie event, photos, casting, even real photos from the community in Nickel Mines you can check out the Lifetime Movie Network site for all the details and even a discussion forum for those who have watched the movie.  Great stuff Lifetime!  As always. 

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