“Repentance: To repent is to come to your senses. It is not so much something you do as something that happens. True repentance spends less time looking at the past and saying, ‘I’m sorry,’ than to the future and saying, ‘Wow!'” (Frederick Buechner)
I think that’s as good a definition of the word repentance as I’ve ever seen.
I also like repentance being a change of mind that leads to a change of heart that leads to a change of behavior.
Through the many varied sermons and lectures and talks that I’ve heard, I’ve come to understand that to repent is more than to feel sorry for what you did. You can do that and keep repeating the same old sin.
It’s more than to stop doing something bad and harmful and wrong. You can do that and replace one bad habit or addiction with another bad habit or addiction.
It’s about going in one direction, doing a 180, then going in the complete opposite direction. You cease doing wrong and replace it by cultivating a healthy and good habit instead.
I’m sure there’s a lot more to the word. Probably someone who’s more educated in biblical languages and ancient culture could probably find lots more nuances and shades of meaning in the word.
Here’s another good definition: “Repentance means you change your mind so deeply that it changes you” (Bruce Wilkinson).