It’s okay to change your mind

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I’m no longer the same person I was when I wrote Confessions a Prodigal Daughter, yet it continues to be my best-selling book. There was a purpose for the journey I had made up until that point, and I’m grateful that it still speaks to people today.

But back then, my belief system was as rigid as it was fundamentalist:

I wasn’t LGBT affirming.

I didn’t believe in evolution of any kind (though to my credit, I did take a course on it just to be informed. It was way over my head, and I think I earned a C).

I would have been embarrassed to be called a feminist.

I believed that hell was a literal, physical place, and you needed to have Correct Theology in order not to go there.

Long story short, there was hardly a conservative Christian talking point I didn’t embrace. Today, I’ve made a complete 180-degree turn from those beliefs, though that didn’t happen overnight. It was a process that involved lots of reading, asking questions, hard conversations, and more reading.

To paraphrase Jane Austen, I’m an obstinate, headstrong girl who doesn’t change her mind very easily. And when I do, it’s nice when people know and respect me well enough to know that it wasn’t without serious contemplation. So any time I voice my opinion on anything, whether in real life conversations or somewhere on the Internet, it’s frustrating to told,

You’re just following secular culture, not God

You just want to be popular and well-liked

You’ve been brainwashed just like all the other millennials.

I think it should go without saying that any person raised in a secular Jewish home, who goes and studies at an even more secular (and liberal!) college, where she eventually becomes a Christian — knowing exactly how her family would feel about it — is anything but “brainwashed,” or overly concerned with what people think about her. You don’t risk losing family and close friends to be “cool.” You certainly don’t go and write a book about it, knowing your opinionated family members will read it!

Still, it sucks to be misunderstood. What helps keep me sane is knowing that if you never change your mind about anything, ever, you probably aren’t growing. You’re not learning anything new. And that’s a problem.

In some groups, I appear to lean right. In others, I’m the token “liberal.” But I’m the same person in both settings. Labels aren’t quite the threat they used to be because I’m confident that every one of my beliefs was formed through research and, above all, prayer.

I have prayed many times to separate my personal biases from biblical texts I find challenging or downright unpleasant. That doesn’t mean my interpretations are perfect, but that I can be confident about them because I believe God knows where my heart was in that process.

It’s not always easy to gauge yourself and know for sure if your beliefs are a product of a thorough investigation, or your environment. For most of us, it’s a little of both, but that’s no excuse to stop seeking.

See also: What Christians can learn from Jews about handling disagreement

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

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3 thoughts on “It’s okay to change your mind

  1. I am a one point Caplinist, that would be number 4. Characterizing G-d like a magical Alex Trebec and us like the contestant who has chosen theology for eternity is a bit much for even my charismatic messianic bones to swolllw. I am still working on the feminist, evolution and LGBT issues. I heard something helpful from evolutionary psychologist Jeffrey Miller on the Sam Harris podcast recently discussing the studies on severing the corpus callosum between the right and left brain hemispheres. He said we essentially can have separate identities living in the same brain who respond differently to political and religious questions. I thought bingo he hit me on the head. Hour to hour I may switch from Hank Hanigraf to Chabad Tanya to Athiest Republic and frankly get something out of each source. When I kneel to pray I never know if Jesus will come out of my mouth so it is fun to see. Right now I am teetering on the verge of BuJewdom finding amazing insights from Alan Watts about the interconnectedness of the universe and own lack of control. The beauty is that he was an ordained Episcopalian and is able to integrate the Jesus aspect. Ok time for me to dig into my morning Torah routine and then to work. Peace on you.

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