At a dinner party few nights ago, the topic of our conversation somehow ended on “Durian”. At the mention of this strange fruit, there were the two typical reactions: the look of glee, and the face of disdain.
For those who are not familiar with this so-called “King of Fruit”, this scary thorny spiked durian is Asia’s “Forbidden Fruit” –it is forbidden from airplanes and hotels because of its pungent stench. To some people, it may smell like old stinky socks, smelly garbage, clogged drain or rotten eggs, but to the durian-lovers, the fragrance is exotic and the taste of the fruit is absolutely delicious.
In my early days I did not like this fruit at all, but I cannot say I hated it, because it was a very big part of my childhood. My dear old mom was the only person in the household who enjoyed the fruit and there was always one of these forbidden fruit hiding somewhere in our house to our dismay. Oh, she did try her best to “disguise” this culprit, but the invasive and lingering smell always managed to find a way to our nostrils.
This strange fruit and I had kept a respectful distance from each other for most of my life, until one day I was formally introduced to it at a friend’s house. I do not remember why and how, but that night after I took my first bite of this fruit, I found my feelings changed dramatically. I have inevitably fallen in love with the durian.
It is not random that I write explicitly about the durian because it has a lot to do with one of the lessons of 2011. As I disposed my preconceived notion and finally learned to love and appreciate this often despised fruit, the Lord has been teaching me to love the unlovable: the ones who are different, who are unapproachable, with spikes and thorns extended and ready to attack any one who dare to get close. To love those I may have judged unkindly or prematurely and most of all the ones who have brought so much sadness and disappointment to my life.
One of the greatest things I have learned, and is still struggling, is what a five-year old child told me after I had put him in a time out corner:
” I love you, but I don’t like you.”
That is what unconditional love is in its most simplistic way: just because we don’t like something about a person, or have some unresolvable disagreement, they should not deter us from loving them. For they too are created in God’s image.
Love, as I finally realized, it is not easy at all. It comes with pain and tears and in the case of Christ death on a cruel cross.