I know you’ve all heard of repentance. How it’s what you are supposed to do when you’ve done something wrong. So OK. You do something and you are told it’s wrong. You are supposed to repent. Then you are told that to repent means that you are sorry you did what you did, and you promise you won’t do it again. If you do it again anyway, that means that you haven’t really repented.
I would like to clarify something here.
What that really means is that you haven’t really understood that God loves you and doesn’t want you to hurt yourself. That what you did was hurtful to you and to others, and He especially doesn’t want you to hurt others because it’s much harder to fix things that hurt others.
You haven’t figured out that when Christ suffered for your sins, and paid the price for you, it was because He Loves you, and wants you to be able to go into the next existence without dragging a chain of suffering with you. He wanted you to be able to start clean from the point where you understand the right things to do. That you really are important enough to him to bother about. That he really does care about you individually, personally, and privately. And that when your life runs into a course correction, when the re-set button gets hit, that it might even be God telling you to re-think what you’ve been doing, and where your priorities are.
He’s not doing that because he hates you. Like a good parent that swats their child when it repeatedly tries to run out into traffic, God is trying to help you survive better. He is trying to help you grow up. If you continue to resist his efforts, if you hurt yourself, he still loves you. If you hurt others, he still loves you, but it’s harder to fix things when you hurt others. Some things aren’t fixable, then you’ve really hurt yourself. That is going to cost you a load of hurt, but it’s hurt you brought on yourself. God didn’t visit that hurt on you. And he can’t save you from it. He can only save you from things that are fixable, and only if you are willing to recognize the hurt you’ve done. If you can’t face it, you can’t fix it, and you can’t grow.
I was trying to explain real repentance to my teen-age daughter. It came down to a math problem as an allegory.
In geometry or algebra or calculus, there are some fixed formulas for short cuts to do things that work for certain things every time.
Before you are taught the shortcuts, you usually have to work through the proofs, so you can see why the formulas work every time.
You could be taught just the shortcuts and then trust that they will work when you apply them in the correct situation every time. After you do the formula, you can see the result, and will know that it works. Sometimes you see others apply the formula, and understand at that point that it works. Sometimes you think that it only works for them, and not for you.
Sometimes we forget the formula. Sometimes we think the formula doesn’t apply in the situation we are in. If we don’t use the formula, then we have to work through the proof to get to the right answer. Hopefully, we at least remember all the rules for completing the steps through the proof. Sometimes, we don’t remember all the rules, and we keep repeating the steps going through the proof trying to get the right answer.
When we are doing a math problem, if someone comes along and shows us the area where we did the step wrong, do we throw out their advice and keep doing the step wrong?
No. We look at it and say, “Oh.” That’s what I did wrong.” Thank you for showing me that.” and then we complete the step correctly. We wouldn’t do the step over the wrong way again, once we actually understand how it’s supposed to be done. We might need some correction on a further step, but we will get that one right after that, because we now know how it’s supposed to work.
(I will qualify this with, in the event that we aren’t dyslexic and can’t actually see the steps correctly the way they are laid out.)
The big book with scriptures in it is full of formulas. Shortcuts for living that work every time. Following those formulas is not a guarantee that your life will be easy, because your life is impacted by others who may not be following the formulas themselves, but it is a way to recover faster, even when that happens. At least you won’t be hurting yourself, and you won’t be hurting others, if you are following the formulas in the book.
If you have forgotten the formula, or haven’t been taught the formula, or think that the formula doesn’t apply to you, then you will end up working through the proof whether you like it or not. Hopefully, you will get the rules right, and won’t have too much difficulty getting the right answer, but sometimes, we miss a step, or turn a step around, or do something backwards, and we get the wrong answer. So then we have to do the problem over again. That’s when you see people repeating what seems like the same mistake over again. They are working back through the proof.
Sometimes God is trying to show you what you did wrong, but if you aren’t paying attention, or think that God doesn’t care about you or you aren’t important enough for God to pay attention to you, then you just put your head down and ignore what He is trying to tell you. Like a stubborn, prideful child, you keep on making the same mistake over again.
When you understand that God Does Love you, that you Are important enough for Him to pay attention to, and that He Wants you to learn so you can fix your mistake: then you’ll start listening.
Once you are listening, he will show you your mistake. Don’t be afraid of seeing your mistake. If you can’t see it, you can’t fix it. He wants you to be able to fix it. He will only be sadder if you refuse to see your mistake. You won’t be able to grow if you can’t fix it.
Doing wrong things here is defined as doing or saying things that harm you or others around you: and further, having a mindset that ignores saying or doing things that are beneficial to you and/or to others.
God won’t force you not to hurt yourself, and he won’t force you not to hurt others. This the nature of the test. You have to learn how to do things correctly for yourself, and you won’t learn if you don’t choose to do so of your own free will.
Once you are able to see your mistake, you are sad, because you finally understand the affect that you had, but you are also happy, because finally, you can fix it, and do the step correctly. Now you are in a position to rejoice with the angels, and when you fix your mistake, the angels do rejoice with you.
Now you won’t do it wrong again, because you finally understand what it was that you did wrong. It won’t be a matter of having to Promise that you won’t do it again. You won’t Want to do it the wrong way again. And That is the True Nature of Repentance.
When you truly understand what the wrong was, and you no longer Desire to do it the wrong way again. That is true repentance.
It isn’t rote learning. It isn’t an intellectual understanding. It is a Spiritual understanding. You will Know the right way to do it, and Why it’s the right way to do it.
This applies to every item of understanding. You Can follow the formulas out of Faith, and learn on the other end of having done it that it is true: but if you don’t, you will work through the proofs, and learn to understand one line of the formula at a time. Sometimes, we mix things up, and do some formulas, and some proofs. Every one has their own speed of learning.
© Ellen M Story and emariaenterprises, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ellen M Story and emariaenterprises with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.