If I Were An Amish Man

Twenty years after my parents were excommunicated I got to experience what I would look like if I were an Amish man. As part of making the documentary Breaking the Silence,  I grew out my beard and cut my hair in the Amish style.  This all happened over this past winter.

Joseph with six months of a manly beard.
Joseph with six months of a manly beard.

It took me six months to grow my hair long enough.  As my hair grew longer I kept feeling the need to apologize for it everywhere I went.  I apologized to the ladies at the bank.  I explained it to convenience store clerks. I even mentioned it from the pulpit, but because the church plant is still young everyone would say, “Oh, you look fine! It doesn’t bother us.”  But they didn’t understand, when I saw myself in the mirror with all that hair I inadvertently thought, I am not that guy; I am not a long haired dude!

The night Stacie cut my hair and I shaved my mustache Peter was already asleep.  A little later he woke up.  I went in to help him find his drink and to settle down again.  As he turned over to go back to sleep he suddenly stopped.  He look at me closely, then he reached up and ran his fingers over my upper lip where my mustache should be.  Even in the dark he could tell that something had changed.

I was surprised how much a different haircut changed the way I felt and how I saw myself.  As my hair grew longer and my beard got bushier I felt slowly more isolated from the world around me- as if everything was happening at a distance from me.  My interaction with other people began to seem slower.  Even as my feelings of general manliness grew, my image of myself as a leader of men seemed to shrink.  But when the Amish haircut came I was not prepared for how it made me feel, it was almost as if the spirit of an Amish man settled over me.

Joseph with an Amish haircut, suit, and hat.
Joseph with an Amish haircut, suit, and hat.


We set up a small film shoot to capture a bit of footage of me as an Amish man.  I am the director of this film project. Generally I love the excitement of a film shoot of any kind, but I had great difficulty thinking through the shot list with any clarity. Every glimpse of myself when I reviewed the footage was really odd.  Every glimpse of myself in my own mirror was really odd.  There was an Amish man living in my house with my wife and my child, but where was I?

This whole scenario caused me to realize that had my parents not been faithful to God’s working in their life twenty years ago,  I would look like this all the time.  I would be one of the “Silent in the Land”.  I would either be using my religion to control others or someone else would be controlling me with religion.  Sure, I would have a manly beard but I would not be free before God as a man should be free.

More than twenty years ago my parents set their faces like a flint to follow Jesus. Today, I am a better man because of it.

“For the Lord GOD will help Me; Therefore I will not be disgraced;
Therefore I have set My face like a flint, And I know that I will not be ashamed.”
(Isaiah 50:7 NKJV)

Joseph Twenty Years Later
Joseph Twenty Years Later


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