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  • Writer's pictureJohn Whitehead

Savoring Sympathy

Growing up my Mom always told me, “boy, if you carry your feelings on your shoulders, someone is gonna come along and knock them off.” I am aware in today’s world this philosophy and type of parenting is unacceptable.


Because in today’s world, there appear to be many who are “savoring sympathy”. The premise seems to be, no one’s feelings should ever be hurt. Not at home, at school or at work. No matter where we look today, people’s feelings and how they are treated by others seems to be a primary concern.

This can make life very hard. Since the words we use can hurt someone’s feelings. Our associations can also cause someone pain, the way we live, who we align ourselves with and what we say now must be guarded as not to offend someone else’s sensibilities.

The by-product of this type of behavior leads us to “savoring sympathy”. Simply because it feels good to know someone else is concerned about how we feel.

Frankly, I believe it is exhausting to live this way.

I am not suggesting we are ever to be mean spirited or go around with the intention of hurting other people’s feelings. What I am suggesting is maybe we all should not be quite so sensitive. Maybe we should strive to be a little less defensive and a little more tolerant with the rights of others to disagree with us.

The complexity brought about in every day life when we are carrying our feelings on our shoulders, really becomes a burden those around us must carry. The problem is, in the end, others will only carry our burdens for so long. At some point, they may choose to “knock them off our shoulders” and we will be left devastated and offended.

Unfortunately, the hurt we experience may be worse than it should be because we have carried our feelings on our shoulders for so long. If we are not careful, our feelings can become the driving force in how we live and perceive life.

“Savoring sympathy” is selfish, having sympathy is selfless. The former can be adjusted, while the latter cannot be coerced.

We must ask ourselves where we are regarding sympathy? If we are truly honest, the answer may surprise us.

Romans 12:10, “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.”

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