Jimmy Carter

by | Jun 9, 1998 | Forgiveness

In his tape LIVING FAITH (Random House Audio Books, 1996), President Jimmy Carter shares that forgiveness is fundamental to his life. He says that without the knowledge that he can be forgiven, it would be impossible for him to face his own shortcomings. This even includes forgiveness of himself. He relates that both he and his wife, Rosalynn, are “strong-willed” persons who find it difficult to admit being at fault.

One day, after a particularly disturbing argument, Carter decided that he would never let another day end with each of them angry with the other. So he went out to his wood shop and cut a thin piece of walnut, a little smaller than a bank check. On it, he carved the words, “Each evening forever this is good for an apology or forgiveness, as you desire.” That evening, he gave the plaque to Rosalynn. He reports that, so far, he has been able to honour it each time Rosalyn has presented it to him.

With his plaque, Carter created a climate of forgiveness between the two of them. Without the knowledge that we will be forgiven, how quickly will we admit our own faults? And how can our closest relationships be healthy if we are each afraid to apologize or unwilling to accept an apology? A climate of forgiveness is a necessary part a happiness.

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Jimmy Carter