Friday, 18 March 2016

Repentance: the loneliest road.

In the light of MP David Ong's fall, here is my reflection on true repentance that lasts for a lifetime and more. Only time will tell...
Repentance. He takes the loneliest road. It is a fraught road, loaded and spirit-sapping. It is a road that will lead him to confront himself, his mistakes. It is an emotional juggernaut from his past. A phantom menace. There is no greater struggle for him. There is no tougher fight. The die has been cast. He has chosen to do this.  To turn away, for good.

He has made up his mind. His past will not show mercy because it is a showdown that will determine who lives and who dies. It is a battle royale of self against self. A cremation awaits. But who will survive this internal fight?

It is a struggle for survival and rulership between his past and his future. And it all depends on what his present self does now. There is no time more urgent than the present. He knows it. He will have to face it. His future depends on it.

No one can help him - at least not in the way that help is defined when self confronts self, when the little David of his present confronts the Goliath of his past. Well-wishing, oral encouragements and other social supports can only go so far. Their effectiveness is limited.

In the loneliest fight of his life, repentance demands that he make up his mind when no one sees, hears or is present. He is literally locked in an island in a world of his own past temptations.

For all practical purposes, the fight is his alone because his past self knows him too well. He knows his buttons. He knows his triggers. He has pushed it so many times before in the past, and without fail, the bidder does as he pleases. It is the piper who calls the tune and the past self has called it every time he played it.

Repentance therefore calls for extraordinary resolve and extraordinary resolve calls for extraordinary focus and consistency. It is definitely not a showdown to chat up, call for a truce, or reach a compromise. Nothing short of a death is needed because repentance demands an enduring clean break, not an interim one.

Neither is it an accommodation nor an adaptation. There is no peaceful co-existence with his past self. He knows he is in too deep to expect his past self to want to retire as the tail while his present and future self becomes the head. His past self has too much leverage over him to accept subordination over domination, and resignation over manipulation.

He knows viscerally that repentance is not just a change of mind. It is a change of heart, will and life. His future cannot be tethered to a past whose only goal is to seek full control. And his fight depends wholly on the resolve of his present self to prevent that eventuality from surfacing at all cost.

He has to literally burn the bridges after crossing it for the last time. He will not go back. He cannot afford to go back, not even for a visit or a peek. The pleasure that his past self offers would have too much of a hold or sway over him. And anything short of burning the bridges would mean that he risks treading in a minefield of self-entrapment set by his past self. A careless step would mean a fall so bad that he will be lost beyond redemption.

For he did not set his mind, soul and heart on repentance just so that he - in a moment of sentimentality - returns to the source of his agony all over again. There is no memorial service for his dead self.

So, repentance is indeed the loneliest road he will ever take. He knows there is no other way. The grief, the hurts and the disappointments have all pushed him to the edge of the cliff. And to tempt himself with the idea with this lure - "one last time for old time's sake" - would only confirm his indentured bondage to his past and to a future he will not have a stake in.

No doubt there is no perfect repentance except death but then, in a world of perfection, where's the need for repentance then?

So his decision and the many decisions after that is a laden one, a heavy one. They come with a price. He pays it forward every time he makes a choice to go forward and never look back. And as he walks with a steely heart towards enduring change, the siren voices of his past will become fainter and fainter. Its hold over him will be reduced to an obnoxious taunt instead of an obsessive haunt - a mere bugbear instead of the grip of a bear-trap.

There will of course come a time when he will look back from where he stands. But it is not to long for the life he had wholeheartedly abandoned. No way Hosea. It is to quietly celebrate the distance he had gained over the long journey he has taken towards a repentance that comes closest to the perfection the world will ever come to know. Cheerz.

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