Disappointment with God and Well-Being: The Mediating Influence of Relationship Quality and Dispositional Forgiveness

By Strelan, Peter; Acton, Collin et al. | Counseling and Values, April 2009 | Go to article overview

Disappointment with God and Well-Being: The Mediating Influence of Relationship Quality and Dispositional Forgiveness


Strelan, Peter, Acton, Collin, Patrick, Kent, Counseling and Values


This study examined the extent to which disappointment with God influenced the psychological and spiritual well-being of 160 churchgoers, and the potential mediating influences of relationship quality (spiritual maturity and relationship commitment) and dispositional forgiveness, Disappointment with God was positively related to depression and stress and negatively related to spiritual well-being, dispositional forgiveness, spiritual maturity, and relationship commitment. The latter 3 were negatively related to depression and stress and positively associated with spiritual well-being. The results suggest an explanation for why religious individuals disappointed with God tend to experience reduced well-being outcomes, Counseling implications are discussed.

**********

Psychological research on forgiveness has expanded substantially in the past 15 years. The psychological and health benefits of forgiveness are now well established (Strelan & Covic, 2006), and interventions designed to promote forgiveness have been successfully developed (Baskin & Enright, 2004; Wade & Worthington, 2005). Many personality characteristics and correlates of forgiveness (Berry, Worthington, O'Connor, Parrott, & Wade, 2005) and its social-cognitive predictors (McCullough & Hoyt, 2002) have been identified. The focus of forgiveness, meanwhile, has been enlarged beyond intimate others to include the self (Strelan, 2007); strangers in the justice system (Worthington, 2000); coworkers in organizational settings (Aquino, Tripp, & Bies, 2001); religious, cultural, and political groups (e.g., Allan & Allan, 2000); and even situations (Thompson et al., 2005). Curiously, especially given forgiveness's theological roots and religious connotations, there is a paucity of research on forgiveness of God. (This study was conducted with Christians, and therefore we refer to the deity as God.) Only one previous empirical study (Exline, Yali, & Lobel, 1999) has addressed forgiveness of God, albeit measuring aspects of forgiveness (e.g., God, self, others) with single items.

The lack of research on forgiveness of God is surprising considering that religion continues to be a major force in society, directly and indirectly influencing the lives of billions of people around the world. For many adherents, their religious beliefs involve far more than outward rituals and actions. Many people believe that God plays a central role in their lives, as real as one's relationship with a family member. Just as in any human relationship, when tragic, unfair, or deeply disappointing events occur to an individual and these events cannot be easily explained or the person has little control over them, people may attribute those events to God (Pargament, 1997). Furthermore, although many Christians may be reluctant to singularly hold God responsible for all of the calamities that occur in the world, they may, from time to time, experience a degree of dissonance and distress, believing that God was more than capable of intervening but for some reason failed to do so. Anger at God may not be limited to those who profess a religious belief. Agnostics and atheists may also choose to blame God for natural disasters, the state of the world, and personal tragedies.

What happens when an individual's relationship with God is fractured? More specifically, what happens when a person feels unable or unwilling to forgive God for disappointing or hurtful events they consider to be attributable to God? A large literature base indicates that in human relationships, hurt and disappointment resulting from a transgression can translate into a state of unforgiveness (Worthington, 2001); this in turn has been related to decreased psychological and physical well-being, including reduced hope and self-esteem and increased anger, bitterness, depression, dysfunction, distress, physiological stress, and coronary heart disease (see Strelan & Covic, 2006, for a review).

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Disappointment with God and Well-Being: The Mediating Influence of Relationship Quality and Dispositional Forgiveness
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.