Complex Feelings: Sympathy for Someone I Disliked

An acquaintance of mine who was very much disliked by the general population recently came into some very serious and very unfortunate health concerns.

I will agree: She was mean. She was rude. She was offensive. She was arrogant. She could even be cruel. Even before the accident, even before anything changed. I did have mixed feelings for her.

I know what its like to feel like an outsider, I know what its like to feel excluded. Oh, how the tables have turned! One day it just dawned on me, I did a mental double take after a small confrontation, “wait a second…” I felt like I was back in high school except I was the popular girl this time.

After a crazy chain of events, major health issues that I’m not going to get into (it’s unbelievably devastating). The rumours instantly start:
“It’s self inflicted.”
“Some drugs she must have done caused it”
“She’s milking it”
“It’s karma, [insert heartless laughter here]”
I even heard a selfish soul say the words, “Good, she deserves it.”

I don’t know if I can explain it, but in the midst of her misfortune my opinion of her drastically changed. I feel genuine and sincere sympathy. It’s like I have completely forgotten all of the bad and only remember the unfortunate. It’s like the unfortunate events have completely erased the fact that she used to be so cruel.

I even get defensive when she’s brought up, like a nurturing parental protectiveness. Which is crazy considering we weren’t close. Maybe it’s because I’ve seen her, and I know that there is no way that someone deserves what she got. Maybe it’s because I feel guilty for my feelings of distaste before. Maybe it’s because the now ironically popular girl doesn’t want to abandon a minion.

More than that I think I’m learning what Jesus feels like when He looks at me. I can be mean, I can be cruel sometimes. But when I am in pain, or suffering He just wants to make me feel better. He experiences genuine and sincere sympathy and holds no hard feelings.

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4 thoughts on “Complex Feelings: Sympathy for Someone I Disliked

  1. oh man, I hate when all of the sudden my feelings about someone / something, are turned on their side! LOL, I am sure you were very happy to just not like her and then all of the sudden a switch is flipped!
    And, I’m sure that you are being led in that direction, so I’m super glad that you are going with it and not fighting it 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I can relate to how you are feeling. It’s very conflicting to, on one hand, feel total and complete sympathy for what someone is going through, and on the other, still have a difficult time with how that person has behaved or has treated you in the past. I think culturally we have a tendency to almost canonize anyone who has gone through hardship– it’s taboo to say what you might really feel about the afflicted person unless it’s positively glowing. The problem with that is it’s not genuine.

    I think it’s important to remember that, while suffering is completely worthy of sympathy and feeling, a person is still a person; they do not become devoid of personality once they are sick or hurt. Bad things can happen to bad people. Feel for them, but don’t re-write history around them. If you do that, you’re letting the trauma define who they are, which is typically not what that person wants.

    Basically I am saying that you can feel for the person on a humanitarian level without necessarily liking them on a personal one.

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    • Hey Robyn,
      I don’t disagree that suffering doesn’t devoid you of personality, or that culturally we encourage people to suppress their true feelings of those who are going through hardships. But I’m not exaggerating when I say that “I get defensive when she’s brought up, like a nurturing parental protectiveness.” Can I explain it? Not really, I tried. I haven’t completely forgotten the ‘hard times’ but in the midst of all this I sincerely do feel genuine and sincere sympathy and hold no hard feelings. Hence why this is complex, my little brain cannot figure it out.

      Like

  3. Pingback: Complex Feelings: Sympathy for Someone I Disliked | Christians Anonymous

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