Having been raised in Sin City, also known as Las Vegas, I have learned a little bit about how to repent. The standard dictionary definition of the word to repent is: to turn from sin and dedicate oneself to the amendment of one's life, to feel regret or contrition or to change one's mind.
The purpose of repentance is to change behavior and feel the peace of mind that comes with being forgiven. Engaging in behavior you know to be wrong can leave you feeling embarrassed, ashamed and confused. Feelings of sadness and possibly even depression may cause you to withdraw from your family in an attempt to hide or cover your sins.
When we repent, we seek the forgiveness of God, an offended neighbor and even our family members. Having obtained a great deal of practice in regards to repentance, I feel forever grateful for those who have extended forgiveness to me for my many imperfections, especially those within my own family.
The support of family is critical for successful repentance. Constant reminders to a son or daughter, brother or sister, husband or wife of past misdeeds weakens their ability to repent and feel the freshness of forgiveness. Allow your family members to repent by offering the hand of forgiveness. I found that there are at least three basic steps that need to be taken in order to fully repent: acknowledge misdeeds, change behavior and live in the present.
Each religion includes basic commandments, laws and ordinances that must be followed in order to be numbered among the believers. Some of these laws have become basic human courtesies such as not taking things that do not belong to you and being honest with others.
Spend time together as a family studying your sacred books. As you learn more about your religion, commit to follow its teachings as a family. Your loved ones will support you. Speak truthfully and openly with your loved ones about your struggles.
Regardless of our religious or political beliefs, one thing that we all have in common is sin against God and man. We have all made mistakes that we wish we could go back and change. We have all said something that we wish to take back.
In order to be renewed and experience peace of mind repentance will be in order. Start by admitting to yourself your error. You may also want to discuss your deviation with a religious leader. They will not judge you. They stand ready and willing to help you overcome the challenges of life. Their only desire is to help you improve your standing with God. Do not be afraid to confess and forsake your sins.
We have all heard the saying "people don't change." Unfortunately, that saying continues to be perpetuated throughout the generations and is simply not true. We can all experience a change of heart. We can all be renewed spiritually and become a new person. To claim that people can't change is implying that repentance is not possible. I attest that it is, for I have experienced a mighty change of heart and direction in my own life.
I recall times in school when I was voted, "most likely to live under a bridge" and "most likely to work at a taco stand". One helpful piece of criticism I received from a school teacher I ran into shortly after high school was "You look exactly like I expected you to". I was wearing shorts, flip flops, a tie-dyed shirt. I had long hair and a tattoo. Looking back, I probably looked like I was coming out of the 60s. His words were cutting. What I really heard was, "Yep! I figured you'd be a useless waste of my oxygen. Why don't you do something with your life hippie?"
I slowly began the process of changing my addictive behaviors. I wanted to change. I began attending a local church and spent time studying and memorizing scriptures and other religious texts. A year after becoming an active participant, I was invited to serve as a missionary for the Church, and after that, I even got a haircut.
Live in the present
No matter what has happened in your past, know that you are not too far gone. God loves you and his arms will be forever outstretched, longing for your return. Think of each new sunrise as the start of a new life. Live in the present, do not be concerned with the past and what has happened. Do all you can now to experience your life the way you were meant to, with joy. Do not be concerned about the uncertainties of the future. Repent today, tell your family you love them, turn off your T.V., close the computer and spend time together.
As the sun sets and you lay your head on your pillow, think of it as the end of your old way of life. Think about if you were to meet your maker as you drift off to sleep. Do you have any regrets? Resolve to wake up with a renewed determination to live in the present.
Do not let fear stop you from changing. If you feel you are not strong enough to do it on your own, choose a role model that you can follow until you can stand on your own two feet. I promise you that as you acknowledge your misdeeds and change your behavior and live in the present, your confidence will increase, your family life will be richer and you will feel a greater measure of peace and joy in your life and in your home.