I’m giving up on myself this Lent.

This is in response to the question that we’re most likely asked during this part of the Church’s liturgical year: “What are you GIVING UP for Lent this year?” And in my past track record of things listed down in my mind to GIVE UP for Lent, there have been years of success and triumph, as well as years of failure and disappointment. This year, however, I’m giving up on something quite different. This morning while having breakfast, I took my usual cup of coffee. What was unusual was the sudden prompting to refrain from putting in my usual spoonsful of condensed milk. Upon finally taking in a sip of that unfamiliar black coffee, I was pleasantly surprised to have actually enjoyed that raw, authentic taste of coffee which I’d been missing out on all these years!

Time to refocus. On God.

In light of the above incident, I’ve realised that far too often I’ve been focusing too much on myself – whether it be my successes and achievements or my failures and weaknesses (as reflected by how ‘successful’ I am in keeping my fast). This would be like focusing on whether I put condensed milk into my coffee or not. But the real focus here is the coffee, and how good it already is WITHOUT condensed milk. Sure, it may be a little bitter, but I eventually acquire it’s true taste and flavour.

In the same way, Lent is not about me. It’s about removing the ‘additives’ or addictions so that I may finally acquire the full taste and flavour of Christ and His love for me. It’s about turning away from what I once thought so good that I can’t live without, and turning more towards the one Person that I want to live for. And even when I fail in my attempts, I can at least still place my focus on Him and taste His mercy and forgiveness, and the grace that He provides for me to try again. What I need to GIVE UP for Lent, therefore, is a preoccupation of myself, through my Lenten practices and acts of self-denial, so that I may eventually be TAKEN UP by the Lord, be awakened by the fresh aroma of His true love, and acquire a new taste for the resurrected life come Easter. “He must increase; I must decrease.”John 3:30

Nicholas Lye

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