When I was in the early grades of public school I participated in a study run by MacMaster University to study the impact of second-hand cigarette smoke. I remember my parents being asked to fill out permission forms and questionnaires. I remember being called down to the nurse’s room where the technician had setup, what seemed like a big machine/device that had a mouth piece for me to blow into, along with some other tests and questions to answer. I recall feeling a bit scared, but also pleased with myself that I was helping science understand something important in everyday life. I remember repeating the test, at least once more, a year or two later.
From this study and from others like it, we learned of the harmful effects of second-hand smoke. And from the results of that study and others like it, my parents became more aware of the impact of their smoking on those around them, especially their children. The knowledge the gained from the study and from reflecting on what that knowledge meant in their life and on the health of their family became a key factor in their decisions to finally quit smoking. They changed their life for the better, and for the better of those around them.
This is a lot like the change for the better that comes from the Christian process self-examination and repentance. Self-examination, which is a focus for Christians during the season of Lent, leads to knowing better the truth about ourselves, and about how we relate to God. Often, this self-examination help us to see more clearly what things are getting the way of us being the people we want to be and the person who God has called us to be. This desire to want to be better leads us into a place of repentance, which makes possible a restoration and return to right relationship between people and between us and God.
We want to change for the better, and so that desire, informed by our self-examination, creates a urgency to make those changes as soon as possible. Of course that change can sometime be difficult, and we many need time and strength to overcome the challenges.
Repentance is a life long process for Christians that help us to become better and better people. Repentance is fuelled by understanding ourselves and God better and it creates an urgency to change moves us to take advantage of every opportunity to make a better relationship with God and with each other. Changing us for the better.