Tshuvah is usually translated as "repentance", so a Baal Tshuvah is a Master of Repentance. But its literal meaning is "return", so the Baal Tshuvah is a Master of Returning. But returning to what? Many of us are Baal Tshuvahs who were never taught the Torah as children. We went along our ways searching or playing as the secular people we were. So how is it that we are returning? Returning to what?
"The soul You have given me is pure."[i] A Baal Tshuvah tries to pay attention to his (or her) pure soul's desires instead allowing his animal inclination to rule. It is to this holiness of the soul that we are returning...the holiness that we really are.
And how do you know that you are a successful Baal Tshuvah? Besides the obvious steps such as regretting the wrong we did and asking forgiveness from everyone we have hurt, besides correcting our ways…a true Baal Tshuvah is very thankful and he expresses this thanksgiving every day…and the result of thanking G-d is joy. Experiencing the joy that comes from thanking G-d is a sign of a successful Baal Tshuvah.
Have a joyful Yom Kippur.
[i] Early morning prayer