Being a Christian is not as easy as they say it is. In fact, it is a real challenge at times. I have heard many speak about how life is better after you become a Christian and how things just seem right. I would beg to differ. I think Paul would beg to differ. After he started following Christ his life got hard. He got beat, put in prison, ridiculed, and cut off by many of those who he was friends with in the past.
When I look at what Christianity has become today, I see one problem. Most of us don't want to be Christ followers. We want to be in a place where we get the blessings God offers, but we want to do it without real sacrifice. This is where I came up with what I believe to be one of the hardest things we have to do as a Christian.
Repentance is much more than just asking for forgiveness. It is asking for forgiveness and letting God change your life's direction. Life before Christ is filled with selfish desires, little self control, and being free to do what you want. This leads to a life where you are always seeking for more, doing things you don't think you should, and living life in a way that really feels like it has no purpose.
When you live a life of repentance, you give up all of that. You give up your selfish desires to the desires that Christ has for your life. You no longer want to do the same things, but instead you learn self control (which God will help you with) and are able to stay away from things that once controlled you. While it sounds like a "bad" thing, you are no longer free to do what you want, rather you become a slave to Christ's will and you live your life in a way that reflects that.
Comparing the two, living your life the way you want to, sounds a lot better up front, but once you experience a life where God is showing you your purpose and directing you where to go, life gains a whole new meaning. (Want an example, click here)
I have been challenged by this a lot lately, as sometimes it feels like a real struggle. I said it is one of the hardest things we have to do, because I believe it is. Our earthly nature wants us to do what we want to do. It wants us to hold grudges, want things, focus on ourselves, and isolate our lives from others. God on the other hand wants us to forgive, forget earthly possessions, set our focus on Him, and live a life of community celebration. His plan is completely opposite of anything that seems right here on earth, but I assure you, it leads to a path of fulfillment, of direction, of understanding.
It's not easy. It's hard. It's a daily struggle for some not to pick back up that in which you have repented for. It's so easy to want to look back and wonder what else you could have "had" if you hadn't followed God's plan, but your own. The great part, though, is that if you ask for His help, He is right there. He will never give you anything you can't handle without giving you a way out. He will give you the strength you need, when you feel like you have nothing left to give. He will give you a life, and let you live it to the fullest.