The other day I was reading through a comment thread on a garden forum. Out of the blue, someone quoted a verse from the Bible to back up what they were saying. (It felt out of context/ and just a wee bit off putting) Next person weighed in and said to them, “You might as well quote a line out of Harry Potter…it has the same effect….”
Yea, I thought to myself, this is the world in which we live….and if a person decides to get into a discussion on the Internet, (which I never do, except here in the blog-o-sphere among those of you I know) you need to choose your words wisely.
Unless I live in a bubble, and only talk with those in my bubble, I am constantly interacting with people from wide and diverse viewpoints on every issue under the sun….. They are called “World views.” Everybody has one…from the homeless guy living under a bridge in Portland, to the Queen of England. From the ISIS fighter in Syria to the organic farmer just down the road from me. Each of us looks at life through the lens of our world view. It helps me make sense of what I see, how I interact with others, how I live my life.
I have always found that fascinating….
(This is stirring up a whole bunch of random bunny trails in my head right now/ but I need to stay focused, because I really do have something I am leading up to…)
Thursday of last week I got a check in the mail from the Amish Farmer. Two months late/ but a check never the less. There was a $5 tip and a note attached, hoping he could come back for more apples in the fall….(I thought to myself..we shall see.) Anyway, instead of doing what I normally do and cash the check at my bank, something told me to stop by his bank…just in case.
Well, I happened to know the lady in the drive-up window, so I asked her to verify that he did in fact have enough money to cash the check…
30 seconds later…….
He had sent me a rubber check.
I was told by someone who knew, this Amish man typically got paid on Fridays, so to give him the benefit of the doubt, I tried again on Saturday.
Still no good.
I decided yesterday to return the check with a letter. Wanted to share that letter here in its entirety, along with some background into why I said what I said. I reference the Bible in my letter. In his worldview and in mine, the Bible is a reference point. A source of common authority ( In theory at least.) To his ears I am not just quoting Harry Potter. 😉
Enclosed is your check for $25 that the bank would not cash. I tried twice, and both times I was told there was insufficient funds. Life is too short to deal with this, so I am returning the check to you.
I need to tell you a story.
A few years ago now, I heard about an Amish family moving into the area, with possibly more families to follow. I thought to myself, neat. I would love to meet them. My background is German. My dad still speaks low German. I grew up on a small dairy farm, plus I am a Christian, been a Christian since I was 22 years old.
So even though I am not Amish, I felt there were many things I share in common with an Amish person. This past June we had a bad hail storm. Really did a number on our apple crop. I decided to turn a heartache into a blessing. Instead of marketing damaged apples, we decided to share them with others, (that whole “do unto others what you would have done unto you” thing.) Your family just happened to be the first family that approached me, after we had made that decision. Make no mistake, I could have advertised #2 apples on Craigslist, or our orchard page on Facebook but I chose not to.
So I was excited when you approached me about getting some free apples. I was a little taken back by your comment, that you were not going to share my phone # with your Amish friends until you had gotten all of the apples that you wanted.
First impressions are so important.
The second thing that seemed a little “off “ was as we walked to my apple wood stash (You’d asked if we might have any apple wood for smoking?) It felt like you were trying to get as much apple wood as you could for the least amount of money…I sensed you thought you were dealing with a naive, simpleton…
Trust me I am not. It did irk me just a little, after giving you hundreds of dollars worth of free apples, that you were still trying to dicker with me.
We talked about $20 for 1/3 of the pile of wood..and you would leave the money on the mantle of my shop in case I wasn’t around…simple as that. (Couple of years before, I was selling my apple wood to a sports bar in *** for $1 a pound.. I made over $1000 that year, when my work was slow, and I needed $ to pay my bills) So that apple wood pile for me was money in the bank…My contact @ the bar no longer worked there, and I wasn’t sure the new owners would remember me and buy the wood..which was why I thought, what the heck, if this Amish farmer needs a little apple wood, why not….
Skipping ahead to early December, you called to say you were coming the next day to pick up the apple wood. I happened to be in the house doing book work the day you stopped, so when I went out to the shop later that day to get my $20 I was honestly taken back, you had not left the money, nor a note, nor called me to let me know you hadn’t left the $20, which is why I called you and asked about the $.
You said “$20 may not seem like a lot of money to me, but it was to you. Things were a little tight right then, but you assured me the next time you went to town, you would stop by and pay. “
I said, I felt the same way…$20 is a lot of money. I asked you how long that might be…a couple weeks? You assured me, it would be two weeks or before. Well, a month went by and no $20. I was starting to get agitated with you.
It really has nothing to do with the money.
Heck, I gave you several hundred dollars of apples, (not to mention the apple wood) if it were about the money, I would have charged you for the apples way back when you first stopped. I was upset by your lack of integrity. I thought to myself, this Amish man I am dealing with is leaving a bad taste in my mouth. I can’t believe they (the Amish) are all this sneaky and selfish.
Rather than continue to stew on it, I sent you an invoice a month after you got the wood.
We went to a program at our local library early January about the Amish lifestyle. I was tempted to tell my story about your dealings with me, but decided not to..
it would not have been right. I did learn however about how your churches are structured..how there are deacons and bishops that oversee 25 to 30 families in an area. I decided to attempt to find out the name of the bishop or deacon in your area and bring my situation before him.
In Matthew 18:15-17 it says:
“If your brother wrongs you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, then tell it to the church….” (the goal here is reconciliation/ conflict resolution)
So, ***, I tried talking to you one on one..followed up with an invoice in the mail.…then took it to the next level, and brought it before your deacon. I talked with *** your deacon a couple of weeks ago. He assured me he would be talking to you)…
So here I sit with a worthless check, and I’m thinking to myself… boy would I love to come to one of your church meetings, stand before the assembly, and tell my story about brother *** who is leaving a not so good impression with some of the people in the area. As an Amish man and even more importantly as a professing Christian.
I turn 60 years old this coming week. I have learned to pick my battles. Life is too short. I suspect this is not the first time you have done this sort of thing, and will probably not be the last, unless God turns the lights on.
Please do not call or stop next Fall to ask about free apples.
So we shall see.
My whole point in sharing this sliver of my life with those of you that care to read along, is this…There is more to loving my neighbor as myself than just warm fuzzies. There is a place for confrontation. Feels an awful lot like parenting older kids if you ask me. 🙂