The other day while driving to help a person move to an apartment in their parents’ home, at one point I realized that the road I was looking for wasn’t where I was led to believe it would be. So, I repented!! Yes, I repented. I pulled onto the shoulder of the road, waited until all was clear of any oncoming traffic, and did a U turn. I wanted to go back to where I knew I would be on the right road. Once there, I could figure out where and how I made the mistake and then end up at my destination.
Some years ago, while living in Argentina I had learned that “I repented” was used in Spanish for a change of course, both in the religious realm and in daily living of things like turning around on the road. Having been raised in an American and Christian home, I did not have any background of “repentance” being used in a non-religious manner. That, in turn, meant I did not have a very good understanding of repentance when used in a religious sense – I didn’t understand very well its function as an analogy for turning from sin to turning to God.
As I have matured, both theologically and linguistically, “repentance” has become a friend, not an embarrassment. In fact, I could even go so far as say that repentance is a turn away from being embarrassed – the embarrassment of heading the wrong direction. Now, I understand that repentance can be viewed with several different optics. Sometimes we may see that repentance is a cause of getting back on the right path; in that sense, it is an action. Sometimes, we can think of repentance as describing an ongoing condition of staying on the right path; the validity of repenting is verified by each instance of continuing in the correct direction.
But, I am learning more about repentance. It may also be the consequence of my heart getting closer to God’s heart. It may be the consequence of observing the faithfulness of another child of God. It may be the consequence of learning about a tragic scenario that was birthed by either rejecting or ignoring God established parameters of living.
In any case, seeing repentance as a cause, a condition, or a consequence has permitted me to have a fuller understanding of life both with and without God’s love and mercy. There is no reason to be embarrassed by having to repent!!