Please note that I have arrived at these steps after absolutely no careful thought and study. 

Rather, I have arrived at these steps exclusively through their repeated practice on almost every opinion and position I once held, particularly those related to my spirituality and my parenting. (Also, they are not easy steps, that is a big lie but it doesn’t sound right in a title, does it? “In which I explain how to change your mind in 5 or 6 very, very hard steps.”)

1. Whether it’s the result of careful study or indoctrination, be convinced that those people with a differing view are crazy and/or ignorant at best, irrational heretics bent on the destruction of all you hold dear, perhaps the first hints of the anti-Christ, at worst.

2. Begin to get to know a few people that hold that opinion. Realise that they are not likely bent on the destruction of all you hold dear but may, in fact, still be crazy. But as people, they’re okay. You think. So you begin to listen – quietly without anyone knowing that you’re listening.

3. Begin to read, to research, to acquaint yourself with the differing way. Begin to think that maybe, just maybe, you’re not the final authority on everything and you may have something to learn here. It is at this point that you begin to think that you may have been wrong or mistaken or ignorant.

4. Come to the conclusion that the former-heretics-intent-on-destroying-all-you-hold-dear are actually right. However, you can affirm their position while still holding onto your own positions. In short, they’re probably right but you’re not ready to change anything about your own life yet.

5. Become the crazy radical. Begin to believe/practice/think the same way. Change your mind and change your decisions. You are now doing or believing the very things you used to think qualified a person as barking mad.

(Bonus Step: Alienate the people that still believe or do what you used to believe or do. They may become convinced that you are now absolutely crazy at best, an irrational heretic bent on the destruction of all they hold dear, perhaps the first hints of the anti-Christ, at worst. Be gentle with them and humble in your opinions. They may change or you may change again, after all. Then be welcomed with very few “I-told-you-so’s” from your new friends or community.)

Opinions on which I have proven the steps:

  • Natural childbirth
  • Circumcision
  • Vaccines
  • Traditional schooling
  • Corporal punishment
  • Homeschool
  • Church attendance
  • Evangelicalism
  • Identifying the call of God
  • What qualifies as ministry
  • Womanhood
  • Being a stay-at-home-mother.
  • Entertainment.
  • Church as an institution.
  • Theology
  • Hell and the after-life
  • Salvation
  • Other cultures
  • Other religions
  • Music
  • War
  • Pacifism
  • Justice
  • Home birth
  • Same sex marriage
  • Consumerism and materialism
  • Success
  • Environmentalism and creation stewardship
  • Craft rooms
  • Politics
  • Evolution
  • Denominations
  • Food
  • Bed-sharing/co-sleeping
  • Discipline
  • Alcohol consumption
  • And on and on and on it goes.
You see now why I refer to myself as a recovering know-it-all. 
I hold even my most cherished opinions rather loosely these days.

What about you? Have you gone through these steps on any cherished opinion? Or would you add another step or two? This should be fun.

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In which there is joy in enough (again)
In which I lose my Right Answers (and that's the best thing that ever happened to me)
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  • Right now I am seeing a lot of this on the posts about poverty tourism/short term missions.  People who have lived overseas a few years who seem to have forgotten the we who live overseas long term made/make the same idiotic mistakes as short termers.  There needs to be an attitude of partnership and humility in that discussion.  A few years overseas does not make people experts- believe me, I know!  I’d like to hear the voice of the twenty year veteran on that subject.
    I’ve always held theological and political positions pretty loosely.  Becoming a parent made me let go of the idealism that I had about parenthood.  There is no greater expert on parenting than a non-parent.    I used to be much more critical of Christians who had great financial success until we worked in a church where the people were rich…and kind and generous.

    • Partnership and humility? What’s that? 😉

      And I was an excellent parent before I had children, too! What a coincidence! 

  • Yeah, pretty much everything. Me 10 years ago would be AMAZED by me today. And I’m sure that me in another 10 years will be amazed again.

    Coming over to being gay-affirming was probably my biggest switch. Looking at the hell thing now. 

    It’s funny because those two things seem to be areas where I’ve never really liked the standard view, but felt like I had no choice as a Christian on how to believe. Finding out that Christians (yes, REAL ones!) don’t necessarily hold to the party line has been really important to me. And it absolutely does require getting to know people who hold opposing views from your own to sort this stuff out. And, as you said, to hold loosely to what you “know.”

    • That is a big switch (and I imagine one that garners you much “concern” from friends).

      • I had a lot of concern when I suggested that maybe the language we use about Christ in the center of our marriage might not be right (or biblical). That one really riled up some folks.

  • craft rooms! ha:)

    i definitely used to think home-birthers were crazy, but i could totally see myself doing it now.  i never had really dogmatic views impressed upon my that i needed to disabuse myself of when it came to theology/politics/parenting–i just sort of gradually figured myself out as i became an adult.

    i wouldn’t say that i hold my ideas loosely–but i try to hold them for myself and acknowledge that my conclusions or what’s best for my family is not universal.  obviously, i’m still growing/learning. it’s always a process–especially understanding and genuinely loving those who think differently (especially those who see One True Answer when i’m comfortable in the tension of differing opinions.)

    • I’m amazed at the things I used to have opinions about – half the time, now I’m like “Meh – whatever works, baby.” 
      And it is always a process. I’m in that same tension of holding or validating many different answers to the question as well. I’m not even dogmatic about the thigns I’m passionate about anymore. Or if I am, then I have a nice tidy little blind spot. 😉

  • I’m laughing along but maybe there should be more tears there.  Wisdom I want now is to know when and how to share and recieve differing opinions with those who are first open and second lovingly.

  • Jillrosalie

    My response was like Suzannah’s !   “Craft Rooms”?   I think there is a a story behind that!

    My 18 year old self would be quite worried about my 44 year old self, in some of the ways my thoughts/ideas have changed.   Mostly my 18 year old self would be shocked at how I don’t care so much any more that others agree with my ideas and opnions, I can have them and they can have theirs!

    • Oh, I am absolutely ashamed of how many things I was a big jerk about in my past. Why do you think most of my archives are missing? I cringe, I cringe! 

      Yes, the craft rooms. I used to joke around that “There are two types of people in the world: those who have craft rooms and those who don’t.” I was one of the “don’t” and thought that those people were lamer than lame. Now – with a cabinet overflowing with glue and paint and papers, I’m wishing for a craft room! Even int he small things, I am humbled often. Ha! 

      And yes, it’s the “not caring what others think” that is my biggest personal victory these past few years. You are right on, JIllsa.

  • BecomingCrunchy


    I can’t count how many times I’ve gone through the very same steps…I have started wishing I didn’t respond to every new idea as crazy/stupid/ignorant/etc…but I guess that’s just how we do…

  • Rea

    Bonus bonus step: Be gracious towards yourself for the ‘wrong’ views you used to hold. I get hung up on that one sometimes, and I think it is one of the reasons that as radical new believers in ‘x’ we start alienating those who hold to our old views, because we are trying to make up for ever believing it in the first place.

    And count me as another one thinking “Craft rooms? Is there some great craft room controversy I’m not aware of? Should I be studying up on the merits/demerits of having one? Is a craft corner the same as a craft room? A craft wall?”

    • Ah, right on! (And I handled the craft room one just above here. It’s not that big of a deal – just another small idiocy on my part of which I have many!).

  • Well then, Miss Sarah… there you go again being all challenge-y and whatnot. This kind of thing gets my heart pounding real good… being an INTP, having a degree in philosophy, and having a theologian father makes me all squirmy with the idea of “I don’t know”. And yet I love it when it happens and I come out on the other side, more free, somehow. I don’t really know how to explain it. (which I despise! it’s a vicious cycle. ha!)

    • I completely relate to this, Beth! Oh, my word. Do I ever!

  • I totally do this!   I think the best example for me is with parenting–with my first, I was dead-set on following Babywise, and I really thought Attachment Parenting was for crazy people.  Now, I feel very differently, and I know I have much to learn from you AP people 🙂  In fact, I partake of quite a few AP principles myself now.  It’s pretty humbling when you realize how quickly your closely held beliefs can be completely turned on their heads!  

    • Kids do that to all of us. We never know so much about parenting as we do before we are parents.

  • Diana Trautwein

    Imagine, all you sweet young things out there, how terribly painful it is to keep doing this very thing your WHOLE LIFE LONG.  Well, maybe it’s a good thing to do your  whole life long – at least to remain open to the truth that maybe, just maybe, you might now know everything there is to know…about pretty much any topic you might care to mention! To pick just one: when I was raising my babies there was no such thing as attachment parenting – and what I’m picking up about it from blogs I’m reading sounds so natural, refreshing and somehow freeing for both parent and child. But you know what? I loved my kids (still do) and I made tons of mistakes – and they turned out pretty nifty – and they still tolerate me. So there’s hope for know-it-alls (or more truthfully, in my case,no-nothings!)  In the end, you learn to listen, to open your heart to lots of different people and ideas, and you trust that God will help you sort it out somehow. Thanks for your usual lovely work, Sarah.

    • I think that’s a big part of it, right there, Diana – trust God that he will help you sort it out. It means living in the tension of knowing and not knowing with some element of  humility (which is not a strong point of mine, I’m sorry to say).

  • Sigh, it’s amazing how I can be dogmatic about not being dogmatic, extreme over not being extreme, angry and reactive about being angry and reactive. The bigger problem is within myself and that’s the tough truth. Well said, and thanks for that list. You nailed it.

    • It’s like you just wrote my biggest things these days. Sigh. I have much to learn, too.

  • Tamara

    I was raised very conservative christian and then switched in my late 20’s to extremly liberal christian.  I stayed that way for 5-6 years.  Somewhere along the way I felt like that was too loosy goosy and made no sense (universalism) to me as a christian.  I still  lean to the liberal side ( but living a traditional  style life), however I am decidely christian and do fully confess and believe the ancient creeds.
    I have never ever changed my mind on spanking (I was spanked as a child regularly) and was determined that I would not do that, and I don’t.  I did think homeschoolers were totally nuts, but I have been homeschooling for 3 years now and love it!   Same with vaccines. 

    • Another homeschooler! I’ll be asking your advice pretty soon here… 😉

  • Candice

    Huzzah!  I’m not the only one 🙂  In a lot of cases (gay marriage, hell, Biblical inerrancy…etc…) I felt like the first heretic in the room.  But in retrospect, I was probably just the loudest.

  • Ha. Yes. So many times. I’ve especially changed my mind about parenting since…actually becoming a parent. 

    For example, I used to think it was “weird” if a baby/toddler was talking and still breastfeeding. Now? Not at all. For the past few months, my 2-year-old crawled into bed every night and said, “Nurse me, peas.” Cutest thing ever. 

    I’m slowly learning to live quietly and humbly and with grace (for myself + others).

    • The humility thing is always where I have much to lear, I admit.

  • Arianne Segerman

    Yes the ten years ago me (heck, 5 years ago me) wouldn’t even be friends with the today me. I sometimes wonder if it’s the usual thing to go through your 20’s thinking you know everything and being very indignant about it. Based on the 20 somethings I know, and the 20 something me, that seems to be true, but who knows.

    I’d especially love to hear what salvation and evolution mean in this list. I’ve had my eyes opened by you too often not to ask. 😉 

    • I think that too. The me-from-high-school would have been sure I was headed to hell – now I don’t think it even exists. Ha! And I might have to hold the other ones for a while -I’m still in the tension on those ones (not in agreement with what I have traditionally understood but still working out a different understanding).

  • I’m on steps 3 and 4 for a lot of different areas…having grown up as a conservative fundamentalist and spending some (very spiritually and emotionally damaging) time at Bob Jones University and meeting my husband there, I have this constant fear of what others will think if and when I change my mind about something they view as absolutely paramount to Christianity. It’s maddening.

  • Scotlynnd

    I’ve been having many tearful moments lately….amidst them I am growing up. Amidst them I am figuring out that many things are not quite the same that I’ve always thought they were. I really truly loved reading this post. ….thoughts are provoked…

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