Friday, December 17, 2010

Repentance As a Liberating Movement Toward the Ideal

The single most amazing and empowering and liberating aspect of Mormonism to me is the idea that we should pursue the ideal for the very reason that it is possible. Sure, it won't happen in this lifetime, but the encouragement to strive constantly to become perfected (complete, whole, fully developed) and the defining of that perfection as centered on attributes like those in the Beatitudes (that generally are defined in society as "feminine" and discouraged especially in men) is one of the mind-blowing tenets of our faith. I understand the problems that such a theology includes (particularly the tendency of too many to obsess and succumb to natural pressures [like depression and shame] inherent in striving to improve), but I prefer the target to the lack thereof. I've seen what the lack thereof produces, and it's not something I want to see spread.

Repentance, to me, is a very liberating idea. It is perhaps the most important aspect of the concept of an Atonement - the core of the statement that "the truth shall make you free." When "repentance" is defined simply by its technical definition of "change" and not by its culturally prescriptive, "feel horrible about yourself and realize how worthless you are" definition . . . That, in my mind, is what constitutes the "good news" of the Gospel - that God has forgiven us of the things we can't change on our own and freed us to focus on changing what we can (and being astounded in the end by what we can change with His help that we formerly couldn't change on our own).

This view of repentance (assisted self-improvement, if you will) also is the only antidote of which I am aware for self-deception, since it forces the repentant to face his or her weaknesses and foibles and character flaws openly and head-on. It requires the repentant to admit his or her self-deception and tackle it directly. You can't repent - truly change - without serious introspection and analysis and recognition of need and humility - and without the theological and doctrinal motivation to repent in this way, it is hard for many to undertake the effort.


Richard Alger said...

Thanks so much. You inspired a post from me.

my mudda' calls me jack said...

I was sent here from Rich Alger's blog. Thank you for your thoughts. Very truthful and encouraging. It really is so easy to get lost in the "feel horrible" stuff and it really isn't about that at all. Thanks for helping me remember and put back in to perspective some things that I struggle with.

Papa D said...

Thanks, Rich, for the link.

mmcmj (Hoe's that for a nickname? *grin*), I am glad you enjoyed and benefitted from the post. It's easy to lose sight of the point in this post, so it's something I mention in one way or another quite often.