Today, two of my kids were fighting (I know, BIG shocker there! Yes…my kids fight occasionally too…) 😉 We were going through the usual actions of figuring out what happened, who was all responsible, and apologizing, when suddenly it occurred to me: none of my children were actually sorry for what they had done! And even harder to accept was the fact that NOTHING I can do will make them sorry for their actions. I mean, they said sorry, because I was telling them to, but in their hearts they felt completely justified in their actions toward each other. It’s why some days it seems like the fighting, the hitting and the yelling never ends. Discipline may make them outwardly obey and long talks may make them understand, but I can’t FORCE repentance.
Repentance. It’s not a very hot topic these days. Actually to tell you the truth, I’m not sure that most of us even know what it means. And it’s too bad, because repentance is actually a very beautiful thing. As a believer, I am called to live a life of continual repentance, not just once, but day after day. It doesn’t come naturally. In fact, it is one of the messiest and most humbling things I can think of.
When I was in high school, I began to make really bad choices. To this day, I’m convinced my choices in themselves weren’t the issue. The issue was that I had bought into the lie that my choices had no effect on others. In fact, I believed this so strongly that I began to feel that nobody had any right to tell me what I could and could not do, since it didn’t concern them AT ALL. What did it matter to my teachers if I didn’t show up to class…I wasn’t directly hurting THEM. What did it matter to my parents if I got drunk…it didn’t really affect THEM, did it? And so it goes with anyone who travels down that road: The deeper we fall into destructive paths, the more desensitized we become…and the more blind we become to how hurtful and selfish we can be.
Finally, one night at a very destructive party I had snuck off to, something terrible happened. It happened to me. I got drunk and two men I had never met before slept with me. They were TWICE my age. And I felt like I deserved it, because after all I had made so many unwise decisions that night. And I felt hardened to it. I wasn’t even that upset, but here’s the thing that got me: my parents were. They felt pain FOR ME. Not just anger or frustration. I had caused their pain and their pain wasn’t selfish pain, they hurt FOR ME. And although I didn’t realize it at the time, repentance started at that moment; realizing the pain I had caused and feeling remorse. And behind the remorse came action…I never got drunk again.
Shortly after this event, a very sweet and BEAUTIFUL lady heard about my situation and wanted to meet me. She spoke of God and even though I had grown up in the church, I had heard all the stories, I had even prayed the prayer and sang the songs…I met Jesus for the first time. And I said yes to him.
A few months later, my boyfriend and I discovered we were pregnant. It wasn’t a shock. But since I now knew that my decisions didn’t only affect myself, I knew now was the time to change for good. I went to a Christain School and the principal at the school was immediately notified about my situation. He told me that in order to stay in the school I was to a) go to a crisis pregnancy centre for counselling and b) stand in front of the school and announce my mistake. “Whoa! Just a minute…” some of you may be thinking, “That’s not right! It’s completely unfair and humiliating!” And many of my friends thought so as well at the time. But here’s the thing about true repentance: it’s humble.
I no longer cared for my rights, I just wanted to make things right.
This is repentance. It’s not pointing fingers, trying to pass off the blame. It’s not making excuses. It’s humbling. It’s sometimes embarrassing. And it’s definitely not easy. But since God LOVES a repentant heart, he becomes our hiding place. As we uncover our sins, he actually covers them for us.
So I agreed to those difficult terms, and you know what? The night before I was to speak, God gave my principal a dream and he came to me the very next day saying that he would read my statement for me. And as I sat back in my seat and listened to him read it, I felt completely free.
“You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.” Psalm 32:7