Do you ever wonder why God compares us to sheep in the Bible? Is it that we are cute and cuddly like them, or is there more to the comparison? There has to be a reason why Jesus refers to Himself as the Good Shepard and us, His sheep.

After much research, I found out why we are like sheep in the Bible. Some of these reasons are funny and heartwarming. And some are just downright shocking that we are so alike.

In fact, it may make you think twice about your life when you read these spiritual lessons from sheep.

Why Does the Bible Compare Us to Sheep?

You may wonder how we are like sheep in the Bible and why God chose to use sheep and goats as symbols for how we act. These nine characteristics of sheep in the Bible will give you pause and maybe even make you giggle.

1. Sheep have no sense of direction

Many people say sheep are stupid. Let’s just say they have no sense of direction–at all. In fact, they will follow whoever is leading them. Even if it leads them off a cliff. Remember the question, “If your friend jumps off a cliff, would you do it too?” Well, they actually would…

This is a real news story I found online. In Eastern Turkey, about 1500 unattended sheep fell off a cliff while the shepherds were eating breakfast far away from the flock.

The first 400 fell to their death in a ravine, but the remaining 1100 were saved because the first 400 broke the fall. The first 400 sheep were a big, fluffy cushion for the other sheep. It sounds like a good commercial for toilet paper, huh?

Apparently, this is what happened: The sheep in the back couldn’t see past the sheep in front, so they were unaware of what was ahead. The sheep in front couldn’t stop because the sheep in the back were pushing them forward. 

Kinda remind you of your teen years? The proverbial blind leading the blind. 

 I read another funny story about sheep:

One farmer said that if you have a bunch of sheep in a barn, stretch a rope across the door before you let them out.

When the sheep come out of the barn, the first few will jump over the rope. If you cut the rope, the remaining sheep will still jump over the “invisible rope” because it’s what the rest of the flock did.

I’m trying not to laugh. I mean, that is pretty stupid. But, oh my goodness, I can see why God compares us to sheep.

How many times do we follow someone who is leading us in the wrong direction or acts foolishly? We see our friends fall off the cliff, and we go right along with them into the ravine.

Or we imitate them because we think it is cool when they are really just doing something stupid. And now, we are doing it too…I can think of a few weird hairstyles in that category.

Can you see why God compares us to sheep in the Bible?

“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way” (Isaiah 53:6).

RELATED: 45 Weirdest Things In the Bible Your Kids Will Love

2. Sheep are defenseless

One of the most interesting characteristics of sheep in the Bible is that they can not defend themselves very well.

Have you ever seen sheep growl or show their teeth? Or maybe bark, bite, run fast, shoot quills, or pull out their claws? Perhaps they could spray you with their…uh, fur. Ha!

They do have two things in their arsenal:

  1.  When sheep are frightened by noise such as running water, they will run away together (hopefully in the right direction). They have some kind of protection as a whole group whereas, individually, they are defenseless.
  2.  Sheep kick. A ewe is especially prone to kicking if she is protecting her young.

Other than these two defense mechanisms, sheep are a Snicker’s bar just waiting to be eaten by a wolf, if they don’t stick together.

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We are much the same way. We can kick a little and run but, mostly, we are defenseless. God compares us to sheep in the Bible because we need His protection. We need to stick together as fellow Christians.

What does Jesus say about sheep?  Check out this verse: “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36 ESV).

RELATED: How to Deal With Isolation: 7 Best Tips When Feeling Alone

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3. Sheep can’t get up without help

Again, trying not to laugh… Sometimes sheep turn over on their back (like a cockroach or turtle) with their legs flailing in the air. There is an old English shepherd’s term for this. It is called “cast down.”

A “cast” sheep is actually a pitiful sight. If the shepherd does not lift up the sheep and put it back on its feet, it will die. It is completely helpless to the prey around it when in this position. Furthermore, it could get left behind when the flock moves on.

How many times have we been “cast down” or flailing on our backs?

I can think of a few times when I would have been in serious trouble without intervention from the Good Shepherd.

Thank goodness He loves us enough to help us get right-sided. I know God compares us to sheep in the Bible for good reason. We are a mess without Him.

“He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young” (Isaiah 40:11 ESV).

4. Sheep are emotional and recognize the Shepherd’s voice

This is where stupidity ends for shepherds and sheep in the Bible. Sheep have a remarkable instinct for knowing the voice of their shepherd. Because they are emotional animals, they can detect strangers. Amazingly, they will fear a stranger’s voice and flee.

Since they are emotional, they also have the ability to build friendships with other sheep and stick up for each other when in a fight. They can also get anxious or distressed very easily. And they feel sad when their sheep friends are gone (dead).

We can learn a lot from these animals.

What they lack in direction, they make up for in loyalty, friendship, and voice recognition for the shepherd.

I think there is a breakdown here when God compares us to sheep in the Bible. We aren’t so loyal, we don’t stick up for friends always, and we struggle to recognize the Shepherd’s voice.

Perhaps we don’t know His voice because we aren’t communing with Him all day and all night like sheep do with their shepherd. However, we do have the ability to hear the Shepherd’s voice if we will stop and listen. But that is hard for some sheep (us), I think.

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27 ).

RELATED: How Does God Speak to Us? Ordinary Ways We May Be Missing Him

5. Sheep are not meant to carry burdens

You will never see sheep carrying a pack on their back. Other animals are good for carrying things, but not sheep. They were not meant to carry a heavy load. In fact, they would be crushed under such a weighty burden.

This is why God compares us to sheep in the Bible.

We were not meant to carry our burdens. In fact, we are to give Him our heavy load so He can carry it for us.

Cast your burdens on the Lord, and He will sustain you” (Psalm 55:22).

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6. Sheep will settle for less

When sheep are thirsty, they will stop at a dirty puddle right in front of them instead of going for the clean, still waters twenty feet ahead of them.

Sadly, they are content with filth, so long as it satisfies them at the moment. Furthermore, they will stink and never even know it. Truthfully, they lack discernment and judgment and, frankly, don’t know what is good for them.

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I find we are not much different.

Many times we see a dirty puddle (sin) in front of us and go straight for it because we think that is all there is in life. We think we are satiated when, in reality, we are poisoned and stink.

Perhaps it (sin) even looks enticing at the time because, after all, it is “water.”  Many times we KNOW it will harm us, yet we still do it because we are stubborn, blinded from the truth, or simply lack judgment.

God compares us to sheep in the Bible because we don’t always know what is good for us.

The Lord is my Shepherd. I want for nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside still waters (Psalms 23:1-2).

RELATED: How to End a Toxic Relationship For Good: 3 Ways to Get Out

7. Sheep are valuable

The significance of sheep in the Bible is probably more than you ever realized. Sheep were treated as a prized possession in Jesus’ day. You were counted as a wealthy man if you owned large flocks because they provided meat, milk, and wool. And they produced offspring.

Shepherds made many sacrifices to make sure their flocks were protected. They knew it was their livelihood at stake.

How much more precious are we than smelly sheep?

Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice for us because He loved us so much. He died on a cross so we would live with Him forever.

Now can you see the significance of sheep in the Bible? It is because God views us as priceless.

When John the Baptist saw Jesus, he shouted, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). 

8. Sheep can not care for themselves when wounded

When sheep get a wound or a bite, they can’t care for themselves. Other animals lick a wound until it heals, but not sheep. They need a shepherd to tend to their injuries.

Many times there would be a salve that needed to be put on their leg and possibly binding of the wounds. A good shepherd would look after the wound constantly until it was healed completely.

Oh, how He wants to look after our wounds and treat it with salve and bind it up. Often we are brokenhearted and need His healing, but we won’t let Him touch us. This is why God compares us to sheep in the Bible.

“He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds” (Psalms 147:3).

RELATED: How to Move On From Family Estrangement: 5 Ways to Heal Your Heart

9. Sheep are innocent

In Christianity, sheep symbolize gentleness, purity, and innocence. It was the lamb that was sacrificed at Passover because it represented the Lamb of God–flawless, pure, and holy. It wasn’t a goat or any other animal.

Interestingly, goats are known for being independent, opinionated, and curious at best—or vulgar, dangerous, and destructive at worst. If you know anything about Satanism, you know they use a goat for their symbol as it is the opposite of a lamb.

We are to be innocent as lambs. Pure and righteous. Not goats who are independent, strong-willed, and destructive. That’s the difference between sheep and goats in the Bible.

And He’ll “separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats” (Matthew 25:32).

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9 shocking reasons why God compares us to sheep. A white lamb laying down. Breaking the Leg of a Lamb

Perhaps you have heard the story about how a shepherd would break the leg of a stubborn lamb to keep it from continuing to wander. After the leg was broken,  he would bind the wound and carry the animal around his neck until the leg was mended. In turn, the lamb would learn his lesson and not wander off any longer.

Let me assure you this is not true.

I heard an interview from an actual shepherd, Daryl Stoltz (Prince Edward’s Island), who was a special guest at Jennie Allen’s IF Conference 2023. He said that a shepherd would NEVER break the leg of one of his sheep. The job of the shepherd is to “only restore his animals and have a healthy flock.”

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Second, breaking the leg of a lamb would leave it more vulnerable to predators. It would not be able to keep up with the flock as they move, therefore, leaving it even more isolated and vulnerable than before. In essence, it would be counterproductive, if not cruel. (Would you break your child’s leg to keep him from running in the street?)

We can trust, Jesus, the Good Shepherd, to behave in the same way as Daryl, the shepherd on Price Edward Island. Jesus came to heal the sick, love those who were broken, and bring hope to those who were hopeless. He laid down His life for His sheep, not break them. We need to follow suit. Breaking people will not heal them. Love and sacrifice are our guides to retraining, coupled with natural consequences for sin.

RELATED: Sheep 101:Break a Leg?

Spiritual Lessons From Sheep

 Jesus said this about sheep, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them…I lay down my life for the sheep” (John 10:11-15 ESV). This is one of the most important verses about sheep in the Bible and one of the most famous lessons Jesus speaks about sheep. 

Just like sheep, we have no direction without Him, we lack protection on every side, and we were never meant to carry a heavy load. We can not make it alone without Him.

On the other hand, I find it heartwarming that as senseless as sheep are, God made them valuable. You would never think they had any redeeming qualities because they are such wanderers. But they do. In fact, they are a symbol of great blessing and prosperity.

Oh, that we would take a lesson from sheep and run to the Good Shepherd who will lead us to the spring of living waters and take care of us forever. Furthermore, that we would truly know our value as one who is priceless to the Shepherd.

“For the Lamb in the center of the throne will be their shepherd. He will lead them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes” (Revelation 7:17).

Do you have stories that show how God compares us to sheep in the Bible? Comment below. 

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Julie is a wife, mom, author, and blogger. She writes about Christian family living, marriage, and faith with a touch of humor.


  1. I have 2 sheep of my own and it makes me so appreciate my fellow neighbor and others understanding them and watching them and see the funny and sometimes helpless actions of them. Recently 1 had a mild case of bloat and all though no matter how clean of water and how long i had her tied to the water trough she refused to drink i literally had to force water via drench gun to insure she did not dehydrate. How many more times do we do such things when it comes to the bible we have it sitting on our shelf we are in desperate need of a drink and yet there it sits. God bless you all and may you all drink of the living water and thirst no more. Amen

    • Sheep are so funny. They won’t always go to clean water. You are right, we are much the same way! We have his word sitting in front of us, church down the street, and access to other materials. It is up to us to choose Jesus.

  2. Bassey Margret Reply

    Thanks for this message. It’s so deep, meaningful and inspiring. God bless you Ma/Sir

    • Thanks! I love how we are like sheep in the Bible. Thank heavens, God views us valuable despite our many flaws.

    • Peter Bamitale Reply

      Thank you so much for putting this down. I’ve been really blessed, and I pray God bless you and keep you strong in Jesus name. Thank you so much.❣️

  3. I appreciated and learned much from the article.
    I intend to use it in a message I will give
    (with proper attributions to the author s .)
    But one quote from God’s word I did not see
    and I think that it could possibly fit in: John 10: 16

    Anyway! Thank you very much.

  4. Oh, Sylvia. That’s the point. We are all sheep and need Jesus, our Shepherd to leads us. I’m soooo stupid when I don’t listen to Him. I think I can do it on my own and then I make a huge mess. I’m
    I like to laugh at sheep because I see myself. I’ve cried so much in the past. Laughing and repentance is better.

  5. Thank you. This is a really helpful message and reminder. It’s helped me preparing to speak to teens and adults about Psalm 23. It gives us a better understanding of imagery of sheep in the Bible, and helps us understand why we MUST stay close to the good shepherd ! God bless you and all who read this page.

    • Grace, this is one of my favorite posts of all time. I get a little tickled every time I go back and read this. Sheep are such funny animals. I see humanity so much in their behavior. I especially laugh about the rope jumping. They are so dumb but also precious.

  6. I left a response on your pin, it took me years to see the hand of God. I had a job where I oversaw a pill line for drug addicts. They all talked about the free drugs, getting high & frying their brains. I saw grown men who were violent, angry and boisterous become docile, quiet & dazed. In a few short months they were doing the Thorazine shuffle and everyone laughed & joked about it, while getting more drugs. Over the years I have attended several funerals for alcohol and drugs. The gathering afterwards was filled with the same drugs and alcohol the person died from. To me that is why we are compared to sheep. ,

    • Oh, wow. You have seen a lot. I think you are exactly right. We are so dumb and need a Shepherd to guide us. The one about the dirty water really applies here. We settle for poison not realizing we have fresh water 10 feet away. I pray you lead these people to Jesus, the Living Water. It is the only thing sustainable. Thanks for your comment.

  7. Heart of God Reply

    May God bless the supernatural exposition of his truth even during this evil days. It is sad how the devil has fooled humanity into believing in his misleading tactics of changing the truth. Many people out there can’t think for themselves, they depend on the actions of others even though they lead them to oblivion. Humanity should choose carefully in order to live a life full of hope and purpose. Jesus says that he is the way, the truth and life. Those who put their trust in him will never get lost.
    God bless you woman of God

  8. blessed message. we have good shepherd in our life who guide us in the right way. may god bless you always

    • I’ve heard a story once told by a teacher that a Shepard will break the legs of a sheep if it will not stay with the flock and carry it in order to keep it safe from death.
      Something to research….

      • Yes, I have read the same thing. I wanted to put it in this post but I could never verify if it was true. I will have to keep poking around to see if this really happened. Certainly, God has broken me, so I can see this being a reality. The problem I found is that sheep are no longer kept by a shepherd these days. So it’s hard to find a shepherd who knows if this is true. Thanks for the comment!

    • For me it’s a call to evaluate my walk with Jesus Christ the good shepherd and my living here on earth.
      Living as a sheep among wolves is a big task but achievable with the help of the Holy Spirit. I pray for grace to live as Christ I tended for me. Amen.

      Thank you for the write up, I am truly blessed.

      • Ify, thank you for the comment. I know that Jesus, the Good Shepherd, cares for His sheep. He is walking with you even through the valley of the shadow of death. He is there no matter what. Even when you don’t feel or see Him.

  9. Pingback: Psalm 23: I Shall Not Want | HolyLight Ministries

  10. Pingback: Psalm 23: The LORD is My Shepherd | HolyLight Ministries

      • Lisa Sawyer Reply

        As a one time Shepard when I was young, we had to dam up water for sheep to drink from, they will not drink from a running stream… .”He leads me beside still waters”.

  11. Good article. I grew up living next to a sheep farm. I do feel sorry when people talk about sheep being stupid or clumsy. Far from it. They only follow the voice of their farmer (shepherd). They would not come to the fence when I called – unless the farmer came near. Also, when they fall down they do need help. This only happens when they have their fleece coat. Try falling into water with a very large, heavy wool coat on and you get a little idea. They know not to go to strange water or moving water because they can fall in and drown before noticed.

    • Oh, wow. I can’t imagine falling in water with a huge coat on. No wonder they are scared of water. They are interesting little creatures who cease to amaze me. God compares us to sheep for a reason. We are valuable but a little stupid when it comes to navigating life.

  12. Suddenly what you say makes sense because in an Albanian marriage song “day dele 300 pare” which means 2 sheeps and 300 money ( Albanian small money).

    It talks about a shepherd who owns the sheep must guide them to a good path.

    In this case the shepherd is god and we are the sheep

  13. Suddenly what you say makes sense because in an Albanian marriage song “day dele 300 pare” which means 2 sheeps and 300 money ( Albanian small money).

    It talks about a shepherd who owns the sheep must guide them to a good path.

    In this case the shepherd is god and people are the sheep and the couple about to get married are seeking god’s help and blessing to guide them to a good marriage.

    Thanks for helping me understand.

    • Fioralba, thanks for letting me know about this. What a great addition to this post. How fun to see this in a marriage song. There are so many ways that God compares us to sheep in the Bible and in culture.

  14. This article has blessed my heart. It has given me a deep appreciation for our relationship with God and how desperately we need Him every day. He is our loving Shepherd and Savior.

  15. Wow, how true is this?! Especially – sheep will settle for less. We see this concept played out in Scripture over and over again. Every time Israel turned to idol worship (shockingly often) they were settling for less. Every time I read of Israel I recognize my own (and humanity’s) condition. Thanks for this post!

    • Carrie, I know. Right? I can’t tell you how many times I go for the wrong things when I know it won’t satisfy me. It is amazing how much we are like sheep. Thanks for your comment

    • Thanks, Jacquelyn. I am glad you enjoyed learning why God compares us to sheep. He is our Good Shepherd for a reason.

  16. Wendy Cunliffe Reply

    I recall a sermon several years ago when our minister talked about ourselves as sheep. Far from being cute and fluffy, we (metaphorically!) are mucky, messed up, long-haired, unkempt, tick-bitten and smelly. Our Good Shepherd loves us anyway and encourages us into the sheep-dip (baptism) to clean us up and identify ourselves as His own. Some sheep are very hard to love!

    • Wendy, sheep are definitely a mess just as we are. God loves us no matter how big of a mess we are. I love the fact that even though they are smelly, they are highly valuable. This is probably why God compares us to sheep.

  17. What amazing comparisons between sheep and people. I have to say, I have never considered why God would compare us to sheep, but it certainly fits! Without Jesus, we would be just like sheep, and sometimes we still are. God bless you!

    • Janene, yes, I think this is why God compares us to sheep so much in the Bible. We are similar in so many ways. They are stinky but loved. I love that some of the traits are kind of funny. God must be humored by some of the same kind of stupid things we do too.

  18. Wow!!! I can’t tell you how much this has touched my heart today! So much wisdom. Such a heartwarming and eye opening reminder ❤

    • Rachel, I am so thrilled this was touching. I loved researching about sheep. Who knew they are so much like people. Thanks for reading.

  19. Bindu Thomas Reply

    What a lovely post! I have never thought of these things before. This is indeed quite shocking.

    • Bindu, yes, it is shocking how much sheep are like people. It is humorous and heartwarming. And at the same time convicting. Thanks for your comment.

  20. What you’ve shared confirms that we can’t make it without the Lord. It is so comforting to know that we are the Lord’s sheep and our Shepherd will go to any length to care for us and defend us.

    • Edith, I couldn’t have said this any better. We need the Good Shepherd to help direct us through life and care for us. Thanks for your comment.

  21. The more I find out about sheep, the more I have to laugh at the fact that God compares us to sheep for so many reasons!

    • Susan, yes, God knew that we are just like sheep. They are adorable but boy do they need help. They are no good without a shepherd.

  22. Waren Jean Go Reply

    I was a bit surprised at the beginning too but as my Christian faith deepened, I gained better understanding about the comparison.

    • I think it is hard to see the comparisons if you are not really walking with God. As Christians, we are to continually strive to be teachable. Thanks for your comment.

  23. I read this the other day and it really struck a cord. We have a good good father who shepherds us regardless of our sheep brains. Lol

    • Trish, I am so glad it made you think about why God compares us to sheep. We are like them in so many ways. The Good Shepherd is in fact good in the way he leads.

    • Thanks, Michelle. Glad you got a lot out of it. I love the way the Bible makes comparisons to nature. We can see ourselves so much better with a word picture.

  24. This is a very insightful and interesting perspective! I truly enjoyed reading this!

  25. Oh poor sheep 🙁 They are such sweet and docile animals, but perhaps not the smartest 🙂 I definitely can see your comparisons to people when they do not have a guiding light to follow. It’s so important to have something you believe in and something you stand for.

    • Dani,
      That is so sweet of you to say this. I love sheep, too. They are so cute. They remind me of our dog, Buddy. They have a real sense of others but can be so stupid sometimes. I hate to say how closely we act to sheep.

  26. I love this article Julie! I have to admit, I knew some of these things about sheep, but had never considered the many ways we are like them. Thanks for sharing your perspective!

    • Denisha, I kinda crack up every time I think about them jumping over an invisible rope because everyone else did. We do some of the same silly things. We just do what everyone else does at times!

  27. Hannah MArie Reply

    This is indeed quite shocking. Now I understand where the sheep comparison came from. It is
    really an eye opener.

    • Yes, Hannah. I found this shocking, too. I can see why God compares us to sheep. We are like them in so many ways.

  28. I really liked this post a lot. I agree with point 2 that Christians need to stick together. I also loved 5 and 6. There are days it’s hard for me to cast my burden to God because I still want to be in control. Then moving to point 6, it reminds me He is in control and He’s got this. He knows my life better than I know my own and He knows His way is best for me. Thanks for the encouragement. God definitely needed me to read this today.

    • Jessica, I am so glad this was an encouragement to you today. I think about this a lot. It reminds me we of how much I need direction. And that I don’t need to stupidly follow the crowd.

  29. Really interesting compilation. I knew for some of these reasons, but not for all nine. Really, an excellent blog post.

    • Thanks, Jelena. I think this is a fun word picture to help us see our weaknesses and our strengths. God is working on us and he uses nature to show us how much he loves us and cares about us.

  30. I love your points and what an incredible story about the 400 sheep that died but saved the rest…crazy. I think the most favorite one I have that you pointed out is that sheep are not meant to carry burden… And of course, that they are valuable. Very insightful

    • Thanks for your comments. I love that story, too. It’s hard not to laugh at the story although it is tragic. I love that even though they are kinda stupid, sheep are very valuable, too.

  31. This is pretty cool. And actually no. 6, settling for less…while it made me laugh, it is 100% true when talking about humans. We will settle for what is right in front of us all the time!

    • Katie, I know. Right? I do this. I think I am getting something great because I didn’t have to work hard to get it.

  32. Because I’m not religious as all, I see the bible as parables and lessons. I think your metaphors here are relevant and relatable.

    • Well, you are right on. There are parables in the Bible and lots of metaphors. There are also some real truths that can be taken. I am glad you don’t have to be religious to see the similarities. And to have a good laugh.

    • Summer, I love how God uses nature to make a point. Sometimes word pictures teach us far better than a lecture. It is easier to see yourself when it is not so in your face.

  33. Interesting post, I like how you added scripture to all the reason’s God may compare us to sheep. I agree that we don’t always know what is good for us, we also don’t really know what God has in store for us.

  34. Wow, I really enjoyed reading this article. Never really thought of this or even considered it before. Thank you so much for sharing. This is definitely something to think about.

  35. With this article I admit that you upset me, but you also made me think a very important thing in this period of holidays … we should all meditate more on these reasons and their meanings!

    • I definitely didn’t mean for this to be upsetting. I hope you see that we are not idiots. We are just aimless without God. We need a Shepherd to guide us in the right direction. Glad you saw it through and read the whole thing. Kudos to you.

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