I've been reading in the book "Steps to Christ" by Ellen White lately. In her chapter on repentance (check it out - I won't be quoting from it directly), I learned something helpful.
We can't even repent without God.
I already knew that I can pray to God whenever I want to help me with whatever I feel is lacking in my life, but I did not know that in the specific, official area of repentance that we don't - we can't - do that on our own. Sinning is what feeds our flesh/sinful nature & keeps it strong. And if there's something I need to repent of, that means there's something I've been feeding. If I've been feeding it and therefore need to repent of it, it probably has the upper hand. I mean I've been nurturing it, after all... So it stands to reason that since I'm the one who's been willingly feeding a certain sin (or cluster of sins) that I won't suddenly feel badly about it or want to repent of it very naturally.
But God's grace is sufficient. He orchestrates divine restlessness and conviction. I get to the place where I know that my life is not okay, where I know I need to change.
But here's what stops a lot of people: I don't feel like it.
If I could feel more badly about it, it'd help me repent.
According to the Greek word in Scripture for repentance - "metanoia" - to repent is to change your thinking. And according to EGW in Steps to Christ, to repent is to feel a deep heartbreaking grief for your sin. Repentance is serious.
And so, because it's hard for me to feel bad about a sin that I've liked enough to feed, I am thankful that if I consistently, repeatedly ask God to give me repentance and to give me His eyes for what I'm doing wrong so that I can feel about it the way that He does, He will eventually, gradually make this happen. It's not all up to me. And for that, I am so thankful.
And until more of the feelings come, I can start to at least change my thinking by training it. Deciding to change my self-talk about certain things is not dependent on feelings. And the more I gear my self-talk towards the truth that the sin I'm comfortable with is actually both wrong and bad for me, these deepening grooves of thought will eventually effect my feelings and make me more receptive to God sending me repentance - genuinely deep grief over what I've been doing that's wrong, however innocent or fine it may look to someone else.
Ellen White also talks about - in Steps to Christ - how even though God doesn't regard all sins as being of equal magnitude, no sin is a small thing for Him. I'm not supposed to compare myself to others to let myself off the hook via, "See? At least I'm not doing that." I am supposed to compare myself to Christ and be filled with shock and awe and convicting inspiration that my standard is the Son of God, the God-Man, Jesus Christ.
To be like Him, I'll be busy for the rest of my life.
And I'm thankful that repentance is not all up to me to produce.
God is not unreasonable.
He is perfectly reasonable, incredibly helpful and KIND to us in His unbelievable patience.