I have been coaching people on their faith for 12 years now and have been a pastor for 14 years. Through my doctor of ministry dissertation I developed a model and assessment for spiritual health: God-Personal-Social (GPS). For the past 18 months I have had the opportunity to coach over 100 Christian leaders on their spiritual health. In that period I have seen more healing and growth than I had in the previous 13 years of ministry.
The GPS model and the GPS Spiritual Inventory help to pinpoint the sources of the spiritual and emotional blockages that are keeping people from healing and growing in their ability to love.
The most widespread source of blockage has been a lack of receiving and giving forgiveness. When clients have been able to forgive people, including themselves, a rush of relief and joy springs forth. It frees them to love more deeply as a spouse, parent, friend, neighbor, and minister.
One such person shared with me that forgiveness hit her like a lightning bolt while she stood before a mirror. She felt a release of energy leaving her body. She went to the doctor for her annual check up that same day. The last time she had been checked was 3-months earlier. Her cholesterol, blood pressure, and glucose levels were all elevated. Her doctor was blown away by her new test results. Everything was down and she wanted to know why. She explained the forgiveness that struck her just that morning. It was deep, long held stuff regarding her dad and half-siblings. And suddenly it was gone. It no longer inhabited a place in her soul or body. The doctor said, “That explains it. I have seen this before.” I wish more doctors thought like this.
There is something very physical about resentment- visceral. Holding on to resentment has been linked to failure at work and school and relationships, depression and anxiety, aggressive driving, community breakdown, ill Health, violence, and shortened lifespan. Resentment is deadly. Forgiveness releases resentment.
I have noticed an additional benefit in several of my clients: weight loss. It wasn’t even that we were working on weight loss as part of our coaching, but many who had worked on forgiveness with me later reported that they were kind of magically losing weight. Well, it’s not magic.
A University of Wisconsin study showed that forgiveness can improve mental and physical health, including physical weight. Everett Worthington, PhD. has been studying forgiveness for years. He said, “Whether I forgive or don’t forgive isn’t going to affect whether justice is done. Forgiveness happens inside my skin.” And not in a metaphorical way. When people were able to forgive something whether big or small, his study showed that people that intentionally tried to lose weight or improve their health in other ways were much more successful. Forgiveness takes away the reason we overeat and under exercise. There is something physical about forgiveness.
“Often over-eating is a way to punish yourself – for the anger and resentment you’re feeling – either at yourself – or someone else.”
So when my clients were able to forgive, something left their mind, body, and soul that was like a disease that was causing them to abuse themselves with food, alcohol, drugs, overwork, self-neglect, and even to sabotage relationships. And then “magically” things started getting better. It’s not magic, but it is a divine intervention.
When you boil down the whole purpose of Jesus Christ, it comes down to forgiveness. He showed us from his birth to his teachings to his healings to his death to his resurrection to his ascension that God forgives us and restores us to loving relationships with God, ourselves, and others. He even gave his disciples the power to forgive anyone. His disciples have the power to this day. Let’s use it!
If we can drop our emotional weight we can even drop our body weight. The key to both? Forgiveness! Spiritual health and physically health go hand in hand. Forgiveness is at the heart of spiritual health and it is at the heart of physical and emotional health as well.
If you have a forgiveness issue you would like to work on (even if you don’t have issues with your weight), SCHEDULE YOUR COACHING SESSION and let’s get your soul in shape!
I am impressed with this article. The nature of forgiveness… it’s power to heal, to release, to transform. Very, very good to hear. Thanks Paul.
Thank you, Dayna! Next to love forgiveness is the most powerful thing there is. It is very mysterious, though.