Looking back upon my life thus far, I have had many near wins. I am sure many of us have those moments when after giving it our all, we came in 2nd. Sometimes the reason for being 2nd was by our own effort while others may be due to external factors.  Some may call them regrets while others may use them as inspirations to live out the “YOLO” belief. I promised myself not to write a post about regrets but instead, it should be about why I think we should all persevere and stay focus in whatever we set out to do in life.

Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday and that means that the season of Lent is upon us. I have been thinking hard about what Lent meant to me in previous years. A sudden feeling of anger and disappointment came upon me thinking about all the obligations required of me. What I have practiced for so many years has become a little jaded to me. One question stood out among the rest – Why should I be responsible for Jesus’ death on the cross? Why am I made to carry this guilt and require to “crucify” myself all over again every single year?

Year in and year out, each Lent reminded me of how Jesus (graphically) died on the cross in atonement for my sins. But that is the past and have since long gone. Shouldn’t His altruistic actions cover both past, present, and future? If so, why are we re-enacting and reliving the torments over and over again? All these years, it seemed that I have been given a guilt trip and quite frankly, I cannot help but to question if God really desire that upon anyone.

Perhaps, I have slacked/lapsed in my faith or maybe, I have forgotten all that I have been taught. Part of me says that it is an opportunity for me to relearn and refresh my memory and knowledge of the catechism. On one hand, I am sure I am the perfect target practice for the over zealous to cast stones at me while on the other hand, the Atheists may be cheering for another prospective member joining the non-believers.

Again, my random mind is at work tonight and quite frankly, the contents of my post may seemed scattered. You are probably and might be asking why did I start this post with near wins and suddenly shifted to something totally religious. To be absolutely honest, I felt this was another near win post until I found the video I shared at the end of this post which seemed to help complete what I intended to write. At first, I had set this post to be published privately thinking it was a long winded off point post. But then again I thought to myself, I should not hold anything back because that in itself counts as a near win.

Thinking about the many near wins in my life can be very frustrating. From a simple game of sport to the many career choices made, looking back with the benefit of hindsight, I felt that I have only missed by just a few more steps or decisions.

So what made me come in 2nd most of the time?

Lack of patience, losing focus due to distractions, no proper follow through, and excuses to name a few.

In most difficult situations, it is akin to holding on to a rope for dear life. It really depends on when we “snap” or reach the “breaking point”. The mind loves playing tricks on us and most of the time, it tells us what should be safe, comfortable, and ideal.

Why am I here when I can be comfortable else where?

Why not stay where you are familiar?

We start off any project with objectives and likewise when we embrace a belief or faith, we start off with a vow. In baptism, we have a list of baptismal promises and in marriage, we have a list of vows as well. These make up our objectives as a practitioner of the faith.

But to me, it is a little different personally. Besides from all the promises and vows professed during the regular sacraments, I often recall the scene at the garden of Gethsemane and the verse that goes…

He came back to the disciples and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter, ‘So you had not the strength to stay awake with me for one hour? Stay awake, and pray not to be put to the test. The spirit is willing enough, but human nature is weak.’ ~ Matthew 26:40-41

I guess often times, we grow weary and tired due to the many challenges life is throwing at us. And coupled with the many distractions, we are unable to stay focus at the initial objectives we have set out to achieve our goals.

Sometimes, we may also be clouded by the many rituals and obligations we find ourselves performing without truly understanding the meaning and reasons behind them. We tend to get drawn into pressure from people around us who failed to realize that religion is something very personal and each may practice it differently.

Perhaps we should take a step back, and recall the true objectives of our actions and realign the directions we are taking.

And hopefully, we can eliminate the near wins, the “so near yet so far” and almost achieving situations in life.

For everyone observing the Season of Lent, may you find the strength for “just another hour” to persevere in your sacrifices. And like what Sarah Lewis said in her speech, may you find “mastery” in your faith and beliefs.

Update: A good article by the Pope himself regarding fasting – Pope Francis’ Guide to Lent

*P/S: This post is inspired by the movie Ola Bola


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