Repent!!! Repent!!! Repent!!!
If you grew up in a church like I did, anytime you heard those words, nine times out of ten they were followed by, “or you going to hell.” This was literally the first thing that came to mind when I use to hear that word repent. I felt like I committed such an great big sin that I needed to get it together and repent or I would burn in the great fire of hell. It wasn’t until I got older and studied for myself to truly understand what repentance was. It was then that I realized repentance was necessary for me in order to receive complete healing from being hurt within the church. You might be reading this and think to yourself, “Why am I the one repenting, I was the one who was hurt?"
What is Repentance?
When I was in seminary school, I had to take an Etymology course. Etymology is the study of the origin of words. Like I said before, the word repentance, for me, meant stop sinning or you going to hell. In Biblical Hebrew though, the idea of repentance is represented by two verbs: שוב shuv (to return) and נחם nacham (to feel sorrow). In the New Testament, the word translated as 'repentance' is the Greek word μετάνοια (metanoia), "after/behind one's mind", which is a compound word of the preposition 'meta' (after, with), and the verb 'noeo' (to perceive, to think, the result of perceiving or observing). In this compound word, the preposition combines the two meanings of time and change, which may be denoted by 'after' and 'different'; so that the whole compound means: 'to think differently after'. So basically, Metanoia is primarily an after-thought, different from the former thought; a change of mind and change of conduct, "change of mind and heart", or, "change of consciousness”. So what is repentance really? It's not only a change it conduct but it also involves changing your heart, your mind, and your entire thought process.
Why is this important?
This is important because a lot of time we only think we need to repent when we “Do” something. We think that we should only repent for actions. What happens a lot, when it comes to church hurt, is because we didn’t “do” anything, we believe that we did nothing. Now, I don’t know how many times I will have to reiterate this but this isn’t to say that everything was your fault or you cause it, but this is to say that you have to take a deep look inside yourself to truly be freed from this hurt. So if repentance is more than just a change in behavior, how does this effect us? What about our thought process? What about the anger or bitterness that we harness. Those are all things of our heart and mind.
I didn’t sin…. Did I?
I couldn’t wrap my mind around this because I truly felt like I did nothing wrong. Part of this was because I was comparing sin and giving obviously blatant sin more value than subtle unnoticeable sin. Even in that last sentence I did it again. There is no sin greater than the other. When we realize that, it is easier to understand why it is imperative that we repent in this situation. The Bible tells us to keep no record of evil(holding grudges seeking revenge) and to love one another as God has loved us. When we don’t do this, it's as if we’ve broken every commandment. As believers, we should always have a heart of repentance. When people hear the scripture, “All have sinned," they often say, “Not Me.” But in reality we all sin. Whether its lying, cheating or stealing or whether its gossiping, being consistently late to work or speeding on the expressway, no sin is greater or smaller and we must repent at all times. Once I accepted that, I was able to truly repent of my ways. In the last blog post I told about self-evaluation and how, while hard to do, it is very important to the process of healing.In every conflict, no matter how great or small, each party has a part to play. One of the key factors is admitting to yourself your role in the conflict. To be able to do that takes a huge amount of humility.
So What should I repent for?
For years I was tricking myself into believing that I was over it, I didn’t hold a grudge and that it didn’t bother me. But deep, deep down, at the core of it all, I was still hurting. I was angry and I wanted vengeance. I had to repent and invite God into that area. I knew I wasn’t healed when the people who hurt me were succeeding. I would say to myself, “Why are good things happening for them and they did this to me?” To truly be healed, one must take a deep look inside their hearts and find that area that is hurting; That place that is demanding vengeance. Once that place is found, ask God to forgive you for allowing that to cause doubt, anger, and bitterness. Ask him to replace it with love, mercy, joy, and justice. The moment I knew I was healed was when I began praying for the ones who hurt me. Praying Gods mercy and restoration for them. Like I said, this isn’t an easy step. This will take some time. It is good to have someone to talk to and someone who can give you sound advice and keep you focus on healing.