"never say never"

if you could turn back time

june’s synchroblog is centered on “if i could tell myself one thing.”  what advice we would give ourselves if we could go back 20 years? what do we know now that we wish we knew then? what is one thing that would have been helpful to consider? come back and check out the link list that i’ll post later tonight or tomorrow.

when i first saw the topic, i thought of a few off the top of my head: “don’t take yourself so seriously”, “who gives a %($*!&!&! what people think of you,” “take more naps,” “be kind to yourself” and “whatever you do, don’t read the latest and greatest parenting magazines, they will just make you feel bad.”

but the one that rose to the top and stuck with me the most, especially this week with all 5 of my kids home from college and life is “never say never.”

“never say never.”

oh goodness gracious, way back when i said “i would never…we would never…” all the time. 

20 years ago i was so certain i’d never….

send my kids to public school

work full-time while the kids were still home

let my kids watch this TV show or go to that movie or read certain books

let my kids celebrate halloween

feed my family cereal for dinner on a regular basis

scream and yell at my husband like a crazy-out-of-control-and-obviously-not-following-God’s-ways person

expose our family to “the world”

question anything-about-the-Bible

not support the work of focus on the family and the family research council

vote for a democrat

stop listening only to Christian music

be uncertain at all about what i believed

yep, that was me a long time ago. i know it’s hard to believe now, but it’s true.  i used to be in a much different place.

it makes me laugh when i look back. but my husband and i were sincere; we really truly believed that if we did some of these things, we’d be making a grave mistake and our kids and faith would potentially be ruined.

if there was one thing i regret it’s just that we were so afraid.

but at the same time, i also respect it was part of our story and a season of our faith that had its good and bad like pretty much everything else in life.

but 22 years into parenting, 24 years into marriage, and a whole lot of years into a weird and wild faith, trust me, i don’t say “never” anymore. 

what word(s) of advice would you give to your 20-year-ago self? i’d love to hear what comes to mind.


ps: our “an evangelical and a progressive walk into the same church…” conversation was so fun.  here are a few pix and reflections from facebook. 

here is the link list to other bloggers looking back 20 years and offering their insights:


Kathy Escobar

Kathy Escobar is dedicated to creating safe and brave spaces for transformation and healing in real life, online, and outside. She co-pastors at The Refuge, a hub for healing community, social action, and creative collaboration in North Denver, co-directs #communityheals, a non-profit organization dedicated to making spaces for transformation accessible for all, and is the author of Practicing: Changing Yourself to Change the World, Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe is Coming Apart and several other books.


  • I’d have to stretch it maybe a year or two beyond 20, but one would be, “Never become any kind of theological progressive” (tho I was making good friends with some of them and had progressive professors).

    On a topic more akin to your recent Progressive/Evangelical discussion time, did this draw people from other churches also? If not, do you otherwise have experience with lightly-structured (or more so) discussion times with people from a range of churches and unaffiliated spiritually-minded people? I’m considering trying to start a regular “coffee shop” style regular (weekly?) discussion time maybe in a few months and would love referrals to people with experience in this.

      • Well, I’ll certainly have you in mind and keep you up on any news re. it… Thanks!

        My sense is that there is incredible potential in young adults’ desire to understand, learn, contribute that is going unreached bec. most churches and Christians do not know how to engage them. (And may find it too threatening… which a truly open system does not experience.)

  • I can totally relate to this. Twenty years ago I would have considered my current self a heretic.

    My advice would be something similar, “Understand that you will never ‘arrive’ in this life.” Life is a journey and you will grow and change in ways you cannot even imagine right now, so don’t think you’ll get to a place where you’ll know all the answers or have it all figured out. So relax and enjoy life in the ‘now’!

    • i love that advice and reminder of never “arriving.” embracing that can bring so much freedom; it’s hard for me sometimes, because in me is a high need to achieve and “make it”. i think that’s why i was such a good christian for so long and worked so hard at trying to make it to some weird imaginary finish line early 🙂

  • Am I right, as it seems to me from prior personal history and current observation, that Evangelical systems/churches do not really allow for one’s theology to be modified much as we age/grow? At least there is not an expectation or sense of it being normal to gradually see things significantly less literally in the Bible, e.g. It just dawned on me that it is not just the theology that is more “set”, but also the understanding of what normal processes of growth are… with a general lack of appreciation for developmental stages beyond that of getting into abstract thinking in adolescence.

    • yeah, i think that’s such a big piece of the problem–that most of our systems don’t allow for maturity and growing out of what i call fusing, the believing-learning-doing parts of our faith (where the core values are affiliation, certainty, and conformity) into a faith that embraces the values of freedom, mystery, and diversity. i always have appreciated hagberg and guelich’s critical journey: stages in the life of faith model. here’s an old post about it here: http://www.kathyescobar.com/2008/06/10/a-nifty-chart-for-the-journe/

      • Thanks Kathy! Something interesting and a bit “funny”: Just a few wks ago, as I was working on preping my upcoming “Spirituality-Informed Career Development” program, I had come across that very chart, which I’d apparently printed off, stashed and forgotten about… which you link to in the above (old) post. I can’t recall when I’d come across it, but apparently on your blog way back sometime (kinda frustrating that I can’t specifically recall that or what else I may have read or even commented about various things on what I think was just a few visits to your blog way back then). I obviously found value and/or interest in that chart to have printed it and I recall having some interest in your work way back. I believe I “discovered” you via RH Evans, where I used to “hang out” a lot way back when we both were fairly new to blogging.

        But I knew she, at least then, was too “Evangelical” for me (tho many of them already wanted to excommunicate her). And maybe you received (unfairly) some “guilt by association” in that I placed you in the open-but-still-mostly-evangelical camp… even up until meeting you at TransFORM. That was partly bec. I hadn’t been reading many of your posts over that long period, and didn’t quite grasp the nature of The Refuge… but I do read them NOW! And enjoy “watching” what goes on with The Refuge.

  • Yeah, love this…so true! Mine was a little more complicated and specific. I can’t wait to read the rest of them. 🙂

  • Don’t read Christian parenting magazines! Ha ha! I recently told my wife to throw out all her parenting and marriage books. All they do is make us feel guilty about all the things we are doing wrong. Ha!

    I love your never say never list. Can you imagine how you would have responded if you actually showed up 20 years ago and said this to yourself?!!

  • Your list had me laughing as I related to so many but then I stopped cold at what seemed to rule my parenting years especially, I was afraid. Fear was the foundation for too many decisions and while I still struggle with it, I understand that fear and faith aren’t compatible. Loved reading this Kathy.

  • There you are, just down the road from Focus on the Family, and you’ve turned from everything they taught you! When Dr. D started up his radio show, our little local Christian station was one of the very first to carry it. We were new parents and we liked his advice on parenting. Gradually, however, his agenda became more and more the conservative Evangelical, culture war agenda, the anti-almost everything agenda. Last I heard, FOF had gone through round after round of lay-offs. Obviously you and I weren’t the only ones who stopped sending him money and supporting his causes.

  • Oh man. 15 year old me needed a lot of help. “There will be enough love for you one day” and “Your life is worth fighting for”. If teenage me had that, maybe the 35 year old me wouldn’t struggle to root those thoughts today. 🙂


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