I expect most people have seen this video.

If you haven’t go ahead and view it.

Jordan Peterson reminded me of it in his book, and it prompted a few thoughts about the true nature of repentance.

We usually think of repentance as “being sorry for our sins”. We’ve done something wrong or left undone something we should have done. Prompted by guilt, shame or fear we tell God we’re sorry and we will try to do better next time. We take ourselves off to confession perhaps and put things right.

This is all well and good, and it is certainly necessary to be sorry for our sins and go to confession, but true repentance is not less than that, but more than that.

We have to see the gorilla.

What I mean is that we need a shift in our perception to see what was previously invisible to us.

Repentance is therefore not only “being sorry for our sins” but it also involves a moment of true enlightenment when we see the sin for the first time as it really is. That “Aha!”  moment is when we move from what the church calls imperfect to perfect contrition. We see the sin for all its grubbiness. We see our selfishness for the downward cycle into loneliness that it really is. We see others as the needy brothers and sisters they really are.

We see the gorilla.

Repentance therefore is not the sad, guilt ridden activity it is so often portrayed as. It is not groveling in the ground declaring what a worm we are, but it is really and truly for the first time seeing the reality not only of our sin, but also, then the reality of God’s forgiveness and mercy.

This second step is not seeing the gorilla, but seeing God.

We realize that the severe mercy covers it all, and the grace is given to amend and live the full and abundant life God promises.