The hope is that in years to come, we can use these insights to reduce sufferers’ pain and improve their quality of life in the process. – Joanna McParland
What to Consider
- Besides the potential for worsened physical pain, how else might withholding forgiveness have negative effects on us?
- How might your understanding of forgiveness widen if prolonged grudges can have negative physical effects in addition to those that are emotional, relational, or spiritual?
- Do you find yourself embodying stress, anger, or anxiety in such a way that it affects your body, such as your neck, shoulders, or back? How can you learn to listen to your body as it tells you about your emotional state?
- Think of a time when you were too upset to offer forgiveness. Can you recall how your body felt in that moment?
How to go Deeper
- Look at the many stories (Luke 5:17-26, 7:36-50) in the Gospels when Jesus’ forgiveness of sins is connected to a physical and social restoration. Consider the holistic ways in which forgiving others might also be restorative for the one doing the forgiving.
- During your worship service, have a time for a parishioner to give a testimony on experiencing injustice and journeying into forgiveness. What benefits have they found in forgiving?
- Have a time in your worship service for communal prayer in which parishioners can ask God and their community to strengthen them toward forgiveness in difficult situations.
- Pray for persons and communities who regularly face systemic injustices. Consider how complicated forgiveness might be for them and how their experience of oppression can lead to adverse emotional and physical health effects.