Lent is a time for self-awareness and spiritual transformation; the perfect setting for mindfulness. During this solemn time, we have opportunity for introspection, gaining awareness of areas where we fall short in our spiritual walk. Engaging repentance, fasting and prayer we begin preparing our hearts to celebrate God’s lavish gift of salvation on Resurrection Sunday. Repentance is a key component to our preparation; have you ever experienced repentance through the eyes of mindfulness?
Welcome to Mindfulness Monday! Where we learn some easy ways to be more present “in the moment” at our jobs, in our homes, with our families and friends.
Learning to recognize God and what He has for us in each divine moment He offers. We acknowledge the belief that God is with us always.
We confess His presence is available to us, lifting our spirit and helping us with power and grace. Learning the art of “stillness” so we can hear His voice and view ourselves, others and our surroundings through His eyes.
a call to repentance
A regular practice of repentance belongs foremost in our spiritual walk with the Lord, however, the season of Lent accentuates our need for repentance. Regrettably, our hearts grow cold, hardened by repetitive sin. Focusing on the life, suffering, death and resurrection of Christ is a stark reminder of our sinful condition. Lent beckons us to return with our full hearts to the only One able to provide full cleansing.
Lent in its simplicity is a call to repentance. A proffered invitation from God the Father, bidding us “return”, return with all our hearts. In Joel 2:12-13, we read the full invitation:
Therefore also now, saith the Lord, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: and rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.Joel 2:12-13
In this eloquent invitation by Almighty God, we see the components of true repentance: turning to the Lord [from] sin, with fasting, weeping and mourning. He further directs us to rend our hearts, not our garments; forsaking an outward “show” of repentance, instead opting for true heart sorrow over sin.
God’s Goodness Calls For Repentance
God the Father doesn’t simply issue a call for repentance, He entreats us with words of love and reassurance. Speaking His heart, He reminds us He is gracious, merciful, slow to anger and great in kindness. If you read my post on God’s great love, those words ring of the familiar. The first words God uses to reveal His very essence to Moses were “gracious and merciful”. Here again, He pleads with the nation of Israel as they face judgment for their rebelliousness. Calling them to return to Him, for He is gracious and merciful and will turn from His [planned] evil against them.
Though they deserved the punishment before them, God, betrayed by His own beloved, stood gently beckoning them to repentance that He might show His grace, mercy and abundant kindness to them. This Lent, God’s invitation remains the same for us, though our hearts my grow cold and distant, God’s grace, mercy and abundant kindness draw us to Him in repentance.
Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?Romans 2:4
The basic definition of repentance is as we find it in Joel 2:12-13; a turning from sin and our rebellious ways and turning to God. The typical example given as an illustration of repentance, involves a person walking in one direction, who suddenly makes a 180 degree turn to now go in the opposite direction. A good illustration to a point; however it fails to inform us about the posture of our hearts as we return to God. Our heart’s posture is at the core of authentic repentance.
From the passage in Joel, we see God calling His people to authentic repentance demonstrated by fasting, weeping and mourning. Not a simple 180 degree turn around, but true heart sorrow over their sin. In Psalm 51:17, David reminds us, the outward “signs” of repentance are not what bring delight to the Lord. It is the broken, contrite condition of our hearts in true, godly grief, not false guilt or shame.
Authentic repentance involves a change of behavior, but that behavior change results from a changed heart. Too often we grow accustomed to going through the motions of repentance without the accompanying broken heart realization of sin’s ramifications. We mistakenly view sin as a performance failure, rather than a relational failure involving God. In effect we betray God as an adulterous spouse, resulting in broken intimacy. David gives us the correct view of sin in Psalm 51:4, all sin is against God, the gracious, merciful, and kind Lover of our souls.
Why mindfulness facilitates repentance
Viewing repentance through the eyes of mindfulness, fosters awareness of sin in a more thorough manner. Like Adam and Eve our natural tendency is “to hide” from God, and even our own sin. We hide from the emotions generated by sin, fleeing guilt and shame. Easy prey for the devil, we succumb to pride, justifying or excusing our behavior. All resulting in estrangement from the only One who can remove our guilt and cleanse us from all unrighteousness, restoring relational intimacy with Him again.
Employing mindfulness techniques as part of repentance, gently moves us to self awareness without judgment, creating a safe place of acceptance before God. For those of us prone to guilt and shame, this is especially helpful in removing the fear so associated with those emotions. Contrary to the poor teaching of legalism, God is not sitting as an angry judge towering over us waiting to punish us when we sin. As we read in Joel, He invites us to return to Him lovingly, with great kindness for He delights to show us mercy.
mindfulness techniques for repentance
Lent is a time of preparation, self examination and transformation. Repentance is the core of Lenten preparation. Mindfulness plays the supporting role providing a prelude to repentance and transformation. Use the following mindfulness techniques as an inauguration toward a heart posture of repentance. These techniques work best used over a period of days; this is a gentle process requiring an intention. Repentance is best approached contemplatively over a period of time.
Mindful breathing techniques are essential for each of the following mindfulness practices. I compiled a FREE Calming Techniques Guide complete with all of the breathing techniques I personally use and share with those I counsel. Click on the photo below to download your FREE copy!
For regular readers of Mindfulness Mondays, you are familiar with the Mindful Check in process. For new readers, you can read the full instruction HERE. I strongly recommend you do not skip this first step for moving towards repentance with mindfulness. It takes only 5 minutes and prepares you for each subsequent exercise.
The purpose of this exercise is to transition from busyness to calmness. As you move through the breathing technique of your choice, allow thoughts to come and go without latching onto them. Focus only on your breathing.
Feel God’s Presence
Before delving into all the ways you failed, hurt others or allowing your sin to overwhelm you, focus on God’s love, mercy and compassion. Remember, He will meet you right where you are.
- Sit a few moments meditating on a favorite verse about God’s love for you. Say the words out loud or just in your mind, remember, these are God’s words to you.
- Focus on God’s attributes of mercy, grace, patience and compassion. Think about the meaning of those words and how God shows these attributes to you personally.
- Ask God to reassure you of His Presence and make it real to you.
Repentance is not about self condemnation. Romans 8:1 clearly states there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. God does not require self condemnation, guilt or shame.
- Bring your awareness to the emotions of guilt, shame and self condemnation. Notice them but don’t “own” them. Notice how they feel in your body; these emotions typically bring uneasiness to the stomach, heaviness to the chest and overall tenseness. With each exhale, focus on an area of uneasiness to release these emotions.
- Speak the truth of Romans 8:1 to yourself gently. Continue to focus on God’s love, mercy and forgiveness.
- Remember Jesus Christ’s sacrifice covers your sins past, present and future. Mediate on the gospel message of God’s compassion for you.
Pray For the Gift of Repentance
Authentic repentance is a gift of God. In the same way that salvation is a free gift of God requiring our coming to God seeking it; also true repentance requires we come to Him for receipt of it. ( 2 Timothy 2:25). Missing this step occasions false repentance rooted in guilt, shame, fear of man and complacency.
Remember, true repentance encompasses heart sorrow for a failure to do what is right in God’s eyes. At times, we entangle our own “ideas” and legalism with what God actually says about sin. We heap unrealistic and unbiblical regulations on our lives, resulting in perpetual guilt for imagined sin. Viewing repentance through the eyes of mindfulness, we release our hold on thoughts of guilt and shame, instead seeking God for the gift of repentance.
- Experiencing true repentance occurs when we come to God with no preconceived ideas about our sin. Release your laundry list of perceived sins, posturing your heart to hear from God about your sin.
- Sit quietly meditating on Psalm 139:23-24, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
- Maintaining a focus on your breath, gently inhaling and exhaling, turn awareness to your heart. As God grants you the gift of repentance, listen and focus on what He brings to mind must be confessed.
- Close your time in a deep felt time of confession for those things God brings to mind.
Gratitude And Glory
Close out each of the above practices in a time of gratitude. Don’t rush this aspect with simple words of thanks. Lingering over the miraculous transformation of authentic repentance, focuses our attention not on feeling bad for our behavior, but on the gracious and glorious God with whom we are in relationship. The more we focus on God’s grace, mercy, forgiveness and abundant kindness toward us, the more clearly we grasp the magnitude of our sin and mourn our despising His great love.
repentance through the eyes of mindfulness
Engaging mindfulness techniques as we endeavor to move into a posture of repentance, removes self imposed fear, shame and guilt. Creating an atmosphere of peaceful acceptance we more readily come to the Father for the mercy He freely offers and delights to bestow. This slow gentle process enables honest evaluation and the release of false ideals relating to sin and repentance.
Jesus reinforces the Father’s desire that we come to Him in John 6:37, by reassuring us that whoever comes to Him He will not cast out. We can make no objection, no sin is too heinous, no heart too hard. He requires nothing from us, He welcomes us to come unto Him, first at conversion and a thousand times afterwards for cleansing. Viewing repentance through the eyes of mindfulness assists us in approaching God as beloved children of a loving Father, rather than hopeless failures never quite able to please a tyrannical God.
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