5 Ways to Repent Without Sacrifice

I struggle with the idea of sacrifice, the idea that we have to give something up (our sins, probably) in order to get something (God's love, I assume). Conversion, it seems, has become a marketplace.

But the truth is, I don't want to get rid of my shadow self, the "sinner" in me. I am who I am, no more and no less. My gut tells me that wholeness requires that I accept my shadow self. The concept of sacrifice, on the other hand, seems to ask me to offer up my shadow self as a holocaust. It seems that sacrifice asks me to give up a part of me which contributes to my uniqueness. I am a beloved child of God, shadows included.

How then do I make sense of this? Is it possible to repent without making a sacrifice? Yes, Here's how:

  1. Give thanks. Everything is a gift. Simple gestures of gratitude are the easiest ways to soften a person's heart.
  2. Pray. Express your desire to be with God. Lift your mind and heart to God, using words, your imagination, silence, tai chi, yoga, whatever. Just be authentic in your expression.
  3. Listen. If prayer is the lifting up of your heart and mind to God, then listening is the lifting up of your heart and mind to other people.
  4. Serve. Take time to enter another person's story. Don't just listen to the story--become a character in the story.
  5. Relax. Don't take yourself too seriously. In fact, if you show gratitude, pray, and become a person for others, it'll be hard to take yourself (or your ideas) seriously. So just chill.

God does not desire sacrifice; God desires a contrite heart. (Psalm 51:18-19) So instead of "offering up" your shadow self, bring it into the light. Allow it to be included by giving thanks to God for the gift you. Allow it to be loved by loving others. And allow it to be transformed by allowing yourself to be loved.

And therein lies the paradox: only by embracing our own unworthiness do we find ourselves worthy.