What is Empathy?

November 19, 2009
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Who is the person who understands you the most? For me it is Eloise. She has been my best friend ever since we were born. Every day after school we would go over to her house to swim, play tennis, play kickball, and play hide and seek. Every year Ellie and I would go on a trip to Lake Ouachita as a family and stay on a houseboat for a week and then our parents would drop us off at camp for two weeks, we both went to Camp Ozark in Arkansas. When we were at camp there were times when we would talk about God in our own study group. When we are together we always laughing at each other and enjoy talking about all the experiences we have done together.



One time when I was thirteen years old at Camp Ozark, Ellie and I were sitting by a tree talking about the word of God. We were sitting next to a tree that was dedicated to one of my siblings listening to the birds and the crackling of the leaves. We opened the Bible to our favorite verse. We were talking about the verse and I was having a hard time understanding what the verse exactly meant. When a quote or verse is read to me it is difficult for me to understand what it means. Ellie understands my dyslexia and she know the most effective way of teaching me to understand it. She explained what the verse was telling me, so I could explain it to someone else. She uses empathy to help me understand the way I talk to others. Her way of teaching is a way for me to teach others.



The Bible in my car is the same Bible I used at Camp Ozark when Ellie and I were talking about the Word of God. When Ellie gave me the Bible she wanted me to spread empathy to others who do not understand, so when I am around that Bible I think about helping those who want to know Christ and that gets me to share the Word of God to someone else. The importance of empathy is to always help others.



After this experience where Ellie taught me empathy, I was able to use empathy. In 2007 on Fall Retreat I was one of the five counselors. One of my responsibilities as a counselor was to protect the kids from any danger. I would explain the rule to the kids so they would know what they could and could not do. It is difficult to explain rules to the kids because most are not listening, so their talking while I am talking and then the others do not understand because of the other kids who were talking. The kids who did not listen and I would know who they were I would not let them go on the trail until they tell me why they were talking when I was talking. I used empathy by using words that they would understand so they would not be confused or lost.




One of the most difficult rules to follow was to wear shoes on the trail. When most of the kids got out of the water they would not bother putting on their shoes before sprinting towards the trail. The problem with this was there were pine cones, rocks, pine neddles, and jagged wood scattered all over the trail. To help the kids understand the rule I told them what could happen if they do not follow the rule. This helped them understand the rule means and why it is important.




Looking back, I now realize that Ellie has been a huge part of my life by showing me empathy and explaining the concepts that I struggle to understand. Empathy was a hard thing for me to do, but with the help of my best friend Ellie, now I can go out and help other friends by using empathy. To explain the things that I never could do, but with the help of Ellie I will not act like a fool in front of my friends. In many ways Ellie has taught me the importance of empathy and made me a stronger person.





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