Young man seeking forgiveness from his friend.

Forgiveness as an Indicator of Health: Part 4

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This blog is one of a series on forgiveness and its’ health benefits. Science continues to show a relationship between health and forgiveness.Asking for forgiveness.

An investigator at the Department of Psychology, East Tennessee State University reported research (described here) on forgiveness connected with recuperation from spinal cord injuries. Car accidents and violence cause the majority of spinal cord injuries in the USA, and victims tend to struggle with emotional issues toward the offender. This study examined the potential effects of forgiveness among people who had suffered traumatic spinal cord injuries.

Researchers wanted to know whether forgiveness would have a positive effect on those injured. They had 140 adults (19-82 years old) with spinal cord injuries complete a self-report survey about their feelings of forgiveness toward themselves and toward others, as well as their health behavior, health status, and general life satisfaction.

The results showed that forgiving themselves was significantly associated with health behavior and life satisfaction and forgiveness toward others was significantly associated with health status. This suggests that forgiveness may play a role in both health and life satisfaction of people with traumatic spinal cord injuries, with the specific benefit depending on the type of forgiveness offered.

These findings are pretty remarkable. It is difficult to suffer from a spinal cord injury and find ways of forgiving yourself, if the accident was your fault, or finding ways to forgive the individual who caused the accident. But forgiving oneself and others definitely brings positive health benefits.

The Bible often gives directives or instructions without necessarily telling us that they are good for our health. God knows what is best for us!

And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins. (Mark 11:25-26 NIV)

Author

Gary L. Hopkins, MD, DrPH, MPH is currently an associate research professor at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan where he is also associate director of the Institute for Prevention of Addictions, Director of the Center for Prevention Research and Director of the Center for Media Impact Research.