This isn't a catechism or even dictionary definition, this is just a reflection on my life thus far (I am 53 years of age) and what my "gut" tells me about repentance.
Simply put, I have changed... a lot, over the years. Definitely for the better thanks be to God alone and His infinite Mercy.
I "changed my ways" way back in college when a friend of the family witnessed to the power that Christ gave him as he recovered from a horrible car accident as a young man.
I describe it as my "hearing" Christ's Voice for the first time (through our friend), and my weeping, alone in my college apartment when I heard not only the incredible suffering that our friend was undergoing, but also the strength in his resolve that was rooted in the Person of Christ, "through whom he could do anything". (I paraphrase.)
At that point for me, all my Sunday school learning and church-going as a child with my family at our Serbian Orthodox Church (where I served as an "alter boy" and assisted in the "Divine Liturgy"), all that stuff we used to do as a family became real to me.
Christ became real to me.
I was in my early twenties.
Yes, I recognized where I was sinning, but more importantly I "saw" the price that Christ paid for those sins. I melted.
Yes I was horrified at how selfish I'd become, but my Savior had found me and was leading me back to light and life.
My family and anyone who has known me since that time knows that that was just the beginning of a long and arduous journey to where I am today.
I don't ask myself questions like "was it worth it?"
That will only be known by the end of the story right? And hopefully my "story" is long from over.
It is a horrible and yet profoundly respectful truth that God teaches us when we realize that absent the Infinite Mercy and Grace of God, we can fall again and "lose it all" if we were to take our eyes off of the Beauty, Truth and Goodness that is Christ.
Thus we cleave to Him until we may be securely in Heaven with Him and His angels and saints and Our Father and the Love of the Holy Spirit.
May that Kingdom which we look forward to, be manifested here, right now, on Earth as it is in Heaven.
As we were instructed to pray and act as Christians.
I guess for me, repentance boils down to stopping building the "kingdom of Dan Popovich" and join in bringing about the Kingdom of Faith, Hope, Love and Mercy that is so desperately needed in our lives today.
May God have Mercy on our souls as we move forward, and never back, today.