Most of you know that every year during Lent, I give up shopping. What many of you don’t know is that every year, it’s actually shopping (plus one). While a shopping ban is a regular feature, my "plus one" changes every year. One year, it was bubble tea (I swear there were withdrawal symptoms!) and in another, this carnivore gave up meat.
This year, I decided my "plus one" would be to attend morning mass during Lent. I figured I would give up 30 minutes of my time to prayer every day. Sounded challenging but at that time, I really thought it wouldn’t be too big a deal. Yeah, right. This is where I am going to blame my very wonky thought process for what is perhaps the most harebrained of all ideas so far for my "plus one". You see, 30 minutes is the actual duration of the mass. What I had completely forgotten to consider was the whole "getting to mass in the WEE HOURS OF THE MORNING" bit. So in order to attend morning mass, it meant I also had to give up 3 hours of very precious sleep. By the time I figured this part out, I couldn’t really back out. I mean, what do I tell Jesus? Sorry, I really love my beauty sleep? I mean, this is the guy who died for me. So I tried. I didn’t succeed at going for mass every single day but managed a couple of days each week.
The first week was terrible. Most mornings, you almost had to peel my very sleepy body off the bed with a spatula. And once at church, I really wasn’t too difficult to spot. Firstly, I was one of the very few young faces in the sea of old people (my conclusion after these past few weeks is that old people really don’t sleep much). And of course, I was the only person who was yawning like every 5 minutes. It got easier over the next few weeks but it was still tough given that the earliest I go to bed is midnight. And so with only 4-5 hours of sleep each night, I literally yawned my way through Lent this year.
So why do it? Honestly, I wish I had a proper answer to that. I seriously wish I had something profound to say about how Lent is a special time of prayer and sacrifice in preparation of Easter and the blah. I don’t. All I can tell you is that it’s not because I want to score brownie points or pave my way to heaven or whatever. I doubt the way to heaven is that easy. I do it simply because it feels right. I do it because it kinda feels like God has been there for me every step of the way and I just want to do something small to give back. It’s like when someone is really nice to you and you feel like you want to buy that person flowers or chocolates. It’s the same for me. I give up stuff I love during Lent because it’s the least I can do. Giving up stuff during Lent sucks and boy, I really can’t wait for Easter. But the funny thing is, I’ve also realised that I usually end up gaining so much more. For example, the year I gave up meat, I discovered a newfound tolerance for vegetables (some, not all) and my diet has improved since. This year, I gave up time but ended up with more time. Because of morning mass, I could get into the office at 7am and the few quiet hours in the morning gave me so much more productive time.
So my profound conclusion is: Put God first and the rest will fall in place? Hmmm… you need to figure this one out yourself. Happy Good Friday!