Repentance is a healing journey

Repentance is not an isolated event, it is the continuous confession which ultimately leads to restoration.


Kendall Jarboe, Conference Blogger

Chaplain at the Union Rescue Mission in Skid Row David Newman spoke to students about repentance during Torrey Conference 2018. His work at the Union Rescue Mission inspired him to think about themes of addiction and its relation to repentance.

Repentance should not be done out of terror, remorse or with impossible expectations. Repentance is about the changing of heart and the turning of mind. The unfortunate reality about repentance is that people often operate out of fear instead of love. They hold themselves to the unrealistic standard of never sinning again, which only perpetuates fear and failure. Repentance is not just being afraid, and it’s beyond feeling regret.

Repentance is not only a change of mind; it’s a change of being. Repentance is the realization that we have not only offended God, but that we have also offended others. As creatures of God, when we sin, we are not living how God wants us to live. This an attack against ourselves and against God.

Newman told the story of the Prodigal Son in the Bible. Demanding his inheritance early, the son rejected being in his father’s presencehe rejected paradise and he rejected his home. When we suffer from an addiction, we act similarly to the son: refusing God’s presence and desiring to be on our own.

At the Union Rescue Mission, they use the 12-step model for addiction recovery. The process begins with admitting powerlessness over problems and confessing wrongdoings to God. Stepping into the commitment of being a Christian requires the willingness to fully disclose your shame before God. You must reveal your broken heart before God will repair it.

For a successful repentance journey, be aware that addictions are not the problem; addictions are only a symptom of the problem. Addiction usually happens in isolation, and the cure for addiction is in community. Recovery is the returning to a state of wholeness. For humans, going home is being in the presence of God, being in fellowship with God and submitting to God.

Everybody’s repentance process is different, but we are all in this process together. Many people are afraid to make the turn to repentance for fear of doing it by themselves. Newman reassured the audience that this fear is misguided. Repentance is an honest and regretful confession of sin. It’s a path that you don’t have to traverse alone. Repentance brings us back home; it brings us back into the presence of God.

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