So Easy to Love

So Easy to Love

Dr. Sabrina Cherry

Before the candy canes were all gone, they were shuffled into a corner suffocated by small, medium, and large-shaped red hearts. Stuffed animals occupy the shelves. Roses are in the floral cases. And greeting cards are oozing with tender words of affection and adoration. Love is surely in the air.

I don’t know about you, but there are some people I find easy to love. My mother is at the top of the list. With our prolonged season of COVID-19, physical distancing, and limited travel, I treasure every day she is alive and well. The remainder of my family follows closely behind.

I grew up in a close-knit community surrounded by immediate and extended family. Many of my cousins still live within a “stone’s throw” of my childhood home. I love seeing them and reminiscing about the experiences we shared while growing up. Next up would likely be my friendship network. Within it are friends I’ve known since kindergarten, as well as those I’ve met throughout various educational pursuits, work placements, and community organizations. I could go on, but these are just a few people I find easy to love. These are the people I think of when I see jumbo chocolate hearts or cute, stuffed animals, or hear singing cards.

But I have another list as well – a list of those who aren’t as easy to love. Included on this list are people who lie and are deceitful; those who don’t honor their word, and those I find manipulative. I am challenged to love those who spew hate and refuse to see every person as a living being deserving of basic human rights. I find it hard to love those who thrive on greed and discontent, alongside others who refuse to sit silently for one ounce of a second to hear the viewpoints of another.

This month as many of us are overwhelmed with the reminder to love, I consider not only those who I love but those I find most challenging to love. And this month, I stretch myself to love ‘in spite of.’ This is not a passive love that dismisses the wrongdoing of those with ill-intent, but a love that seeks to model compassion, forgiveness, and hope. This is a love that surpasses my human inclination and leanings. This is a love I can stand on. A love that affirms and invites. A love that embraces and welcomes. A love that says I still believe. A love that allows my heart to continuously be softened and renewed versus callous and battered.

One of my favorite songs includes the following lyrics:

And it was all so simple
You’re so easy to love
And no space between us
You’re so easy to trust

Cause You are closer, closer than my skin
And You are in the air I’m breathing in
And here’s where the dead things come back to living
I feel my heart beating again
It feels so good to know You are my friend

(Communion by Maverick City Music featuring Steffany Gretzinger and Brandon Lake)

While this song is not about the love we experience with one another, it is a model for how I can love others. Simple love. Trusting love. A love that is close. A love that reinvigorates. I hope we create space this month and beyond to not only love those who are easy to love but the ones who challenge us to believe in hope, compassion, and forgiveness.

* Dr. Sabrina T. Cherry is an Assistant Professor of Public Health at UNC Wilmington. You can read more about her work at