Monday, January 17, 2011

Empathy

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What is empathy?  In my search to find a definition I have come up with the following: Empathy is the ability to relate with the feelings, thoughts and experiences of others.  We celebrate their joy with them and share the burden of their pain.  We attempt to imagine what it would be like to be in the other persons shoes and experience what they are experiencing. 

I was out running some errands today when I came across a funeral procession.  I pulled my car to the shoulder, watched the cars drive by, and cried.  It doesn't matter that I didn't even know the person who died.  I cried for those who did know that person and were grieving the loss of a loved one.

This is not uncommon for me.  I can't watch the news because there are too many sad stories and it leaves me feeling ovewhelmed.  The fact that I had tears rolling off my cheek watching a funeral procession is not a surprise to me, or anyone who knows me well.  This is who I am. 

Today I am thankful for the tears I shed over the death of a stranger because it reminded me that God has given me a strong amount of empathy for others, and I need to be aware of that and use it in an advantageous way.  I'm not sure what that means yet, but I believe that things happen for a reason, and I believe there is a reason the concept of empathy has been at the front of my mind all day.  My mind and my heart are open to whatever is about to come my way.

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