I was converted by a 14-year-old.

For years, I was deeply, stubbornly entrenched in my dogma. I refused to hear pleas to just examine things from a different perspective. My sisters, a daughter-in-law, and many of my friends had already seen that there were paths other than the one I held on to so fiercely. Oh, I would nod pleasantly and appear to listen, but inside I was stone deaf to anything that went against my beliefs.

Then, slowly, the musings of my granddaughter began to penetrate. “I’m going to go there,” she would say enthusiastically, “when I’m in college and make my own decisions.” I heard the statement, but I shut down immediately. What does a 14-year-old know about anything? I thought dismissively.

But then I kept hearing her talking about the choices available, the reasoning behind her decision, and I really began to listen. What she said made sense. I had been indoctrinated and had never even attempted to look beyond what I had been told for years. But if she was right, there was a better way. A rational choice not based on emotion or habit or even loyalty.

It just kept eating at the edge of conscious thought. I may have been wrong all these years. I may have been blinded by decades of repetition and ritual.

Then today, on some impulse from who knows where, I turned my car into the parking lot of the place she espoused. I can just go inside, I thought. That’s not a commitment. Not even an admission that I might be wrong.

Within moments of entering the doors, I knew that what I thought of as devotion was nothing more than an ignorant need to hold on to the familiar, a reluctance to change. I accepted the truth then and there.

I will tell her of my conversion. “Ashleigh,” I will say. “You are right. I have searched it out for myself and I can see that I was holding on to what I had been hearing since childhood without ever trying to find Truth. Thank you for opening my eyes.”

What my newly opened eyes beheld, just as she had said, was aisle after aisle, shelf after shelf, filled with cans, boxes, bottles, and packages all marked “$1.” I picked up a box of this, a can of that, a tube of something else. All one dollar each. Then I really broke free. I picked up a . . . . a generic.

When I got home, I put away my purchases, 20 items for twenty dollars. I felt so light, so unencumbered. Only one final test remained. I opened and tasted the generic. Free. Free at last.

So, I am a convert. No longer a slave to the idea that only name brands will do. And even name brands don’t have to be expensive. Ashleigh doesn’t have to wait until she leaves home and goes to college to exercise her faith. I will take her with me in regular attendance to that basilica of financial liberty – the Dollar Tree.