Repentance is the path to greatness. That is the path we have to choose.
We could also say it is our path to glory or goodness or heaven. All true. We were meant for greatness but we are not yet great. We are too ill-formed as yet. So we must change.
We can imagine someone who doesn’t need to change to be great. They only need to develop further who they are inwardly. Christ was like that, I think. We are partly like that too. We were meant for greatness, the seeds are already there, we are just unfolding them. But for us it also means changing who we are. We have contradictions inside us.
Hmm. We might even say that all paths require repentance. Any purpose we have at all is going to require some resolution of our inner contradictions. To choose one thing is to forgo choosing another.
We could even define repentance that way – repentance is when we choose to forgo something wholeheartedly, not because we are forced to, not resentfully, but because we have genuinely chosen. It is that simple. No need to make a big mystery about it. Repentance sometimes takes time because sometimes we have to enjoy the first fruits of our decision before we can truly embrace it.
If we have to repent anyhow, we might as well repent for greatness.
I appreciate the positive approach G uses to describe the purpose of repentance. It challenges conventional views of repentance as a purely negative action motivated by fire-and-brimstone fears and shameful, guilt-ridden acknowledgements of one's past sins and transgressions. It should not involve looking back into the past with sorrow and regret. It should empower and involve embracing the present with enthusiasm and joy.
As G explains, true repentance can never be forced; it must be embraced wholeheartedly. Also, repentance should never stem from resentment, but from the joy inherent in genuine choice.
I believe it is helpful to view repentance from the perspective G presents - not as a "necessary" and perhaps not-wholeheartedly accepted change that entails some sort of "negative" loss, but rather as thoroughly welcomed expression of one's own free will and agency to choose change that leads to positive gain.
Put simply, repentance is not simply about "freedom from"; it must include "freedom for." Moreover, the "freedom for" should be substantially "bigger" than the "freedom from." Thus, repentance should not merely be about relief or escape.
After all, repentance is a crucial component of learning, and each genuine act of repentance should lead to useful and meaningful insights about oneself, the world, and God. True repentance should lead to increased understanding and discernment about what it means to choose to be on the side of Good.
I envision each genuine act of repentance as a moment of metanoia - a mini act of spiritual conversion all to itself.
In this sense, repentance is not just about regret or remorse; it is the decision to initiate a positive and transformative change in the heart and mind.
More than necessary steps in spiritual development, repentance ought to be viewed from the perspective of freedom and creativity. When we repent, we open ourselves up to the possibility of fundamentally changing our thinking.
This, in turn, may lead us the possibility of fundamentally changing our behavior or mode of life, but a failure (or repeated failures) to do so should not negate the mini-spiritual conversion, more specifically, the spiritual understanding and discernment we acquired in the repentant act.
Repentance cannot always solve our inner contradictions, but it can help us acknowledge our contradictions sincerely and authentically. This alone is positive. It may not sound like much, but it is a step toward greatness all the same.