Why not Love? by Alison Sampson

Alison Sampson is a talented Melbourne writer who articulates so beautifully the call to be a Christian (or even just a human being) in the daily grind of life.  The rss feeds from her blog, the idea of home, are always a breath of fresh air in my inbox!  I particularly appreciated this recent piece on Love which was published in The Sunday Age Faith column on 26.2.12.

Why not love?

Some people are naturally loving. I’m not one of them. For as long as I can remember, my first impulse has been to dislike, to feel angry, and to judge. I have fought and hurt many people unnecessarily; and I have often needed to apologise, even go through mediation, to restore a relationship damaged by my anger.

It’s not something I’m proud of.

But one day five or six years ago, as I felt myself growing furious over nothing in particular, three words dropped into mind: ‘Why not love?’

Three simple words, one little invitation. Why not love?

If it had been an order, ‘Thou shalt love’, I would have rejected it out of hand. A reactive soul who has always deeply resented being told what to do, I would have pointed out the ways I had been offended. I would have explained exactly why it was reasonable for me to be angry; with arrogance and disdain, I would have wielded my brutal honesty like a weapon; and with sickening self-righteousness, I would have justified the ensuing destruction.

But I wasn’t given a command. I was asked a question; and because of this, I felt surprisingly free. I didn’t have to react. Instead, I could engage with the question, holding it gently and turning it to and fro as I looked at it from different angles. As I did so, I realised I had an option. I could choose to go with my usual motivators, anger and fear, and lash out yet again; or I could take a deep breath, count to ten, and find a way to love.

Which option I took depended on who I wanted to be. Did I pride myself on being an angry little girl, flailing about and striking at will; or did I want to try a new path, which might just lead to kindness?

The choice was obvious. I knew what sort of adult I wanted to become.

Why not love? I unclenched my hands, and slowly breathed out. I don’t remember exactly how that day ended so many years ago; but I can say that there were no fireworks or angry tears. Instead, I recall a sense of lush green growth, a sign of renewal and hope.

I have carried the question with me ever since. Of course, there still have been many times when I have chosen not to love – always a mistake, and always more harmful to me than to anyone else. But thanks to the question, there have been many more times when I have opted to try; and in so doing, I am awkwardly stumbling my way into the wide open spaces of freedom.

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