A friend of mine from Stratford was telling me about his new church thing that he’s doing. He was talking about their values of their conversation time. He talked about their values of acceptance and a few other things that they all deemed as important when they dive into the dialogue. Then he said something that I had never heard before that resonated with me. One of their values is that they have “grace for someone to change their mind.”
Think about how profound that is. I think this needs to be on of the top values of anyone’s lives who participate in regular conversation. It needs to be a value of anyone who uses the Internet and chats on blogs and forums and e-mail lists. I’ve sort of understood this before but I’ve never heard it said out loud. Grace for someone to change their mind is revolutionary in my mind.
I don’t know about you, but when I’m in an argument, the last thing I want to do is change my mind. Changing my mind says I lost. Changing my mind says that someone else is right. Changing my mind is humbling. But yet changing our mind we must do and we must do it vocally and in front of people. I think it is good for both sides when someone changes their mind. It is good for the one changing their mind because they are forced to admit their wrong, or to push aside their own pride for a bit. It is good for the other because they are forced to accept the person gracefully and accept them on their journey. It is hard to administer grace to someone who just admitted that they were wrong. It’s hard not to rub it in.
The grace to change your mind values the idea of dialogue. It doesn’t value one side or the other but it values the conversation as a whole. It means that both sides are seeking truth, and both sides could be wrong and both sides are probably wrong at times or right at times. It puts the conversation in front of either individual, it says that we appreciate the conversation more than we appreciate one side of it. I think this could be beautiful if we really believed and practiced it. Very few of us go into conversation for the conversation, as soon as we see or hear something that we disagree with we start participating because we think we know the right answer or having something smart to stump someone. Very few of us care about discovering truth together, we’d rather just tell people that we have the truth and hope that they come closer to where we are by our conversations.
I think that if I knew that there would be grace for me when I changed my mind, I would do it more often. More often than not though I find myself holding onto things that I barely believe anymore simply because I don’t want to admit that I’m wrong. If you knew me 5 years ago you would realize that I probably fight just as passionately now as I did then, but for opposite sides and I barely admit that I used to be on the other side. I want people to think that I’ve always thought this way and that I haven’t been weak and changed my mind. If someone changed their mind, I quickly think about how fragile people’s belief systems are, but maybe its telling the opposite. Maybe when someone has the guts to say I changed my mind and actually do it says a lot about how strong their character is and not the opposite.
May we give grace to everyone who changes their mind and admit that at times we may need to change our minds also, and if we do, its ok.