Our theme “Thursdays with Anne” is a tribute to “Tuesdays with Morrie.” Anne told me that this book had a profound impact on her and her father at a critical time in their lives.
Today I asked her to tell me the story so I could share it with you, dear reader.
It was early in 2004 when Anne attended a Leadership Summit where Mitch Album told the story of Morrie Schwartz and writing “Tuesdays with Morrie.” As Mitch relayed Morrie’s wisdom, Anne was struck by his message about forgiveness,
“We need to forgive ourselves. For all the things we didn’t do. All the things we should have done. You can’t get stuck on the regrets of what should have happened.”
Morrie maintained that until we forgive ourselves, we may not be able to forgive others. Our inability to forgive others is a barrier to a happy and contented life; holding onto anger and resentment is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.
Anne knew that her father was unforgiving. Once offended, he self-righteously held onto his anger and resentment. She had observed that his response to being challenged was often unbecoming; if you were angry with him, he would get even more furious with you, and he could easily cut you right out of his life. This was a long-standing pattern in his life.
Imagining that her father was unable to forgive himself at the core, she shared Morrie’s story with him, hoping that he would see its relevance for himself.
Within a few days, Anne’s father had not only read the book cover-to-cover, but he had also begun his forgiveness journey. He reached out to old friends, neighbors, and family members he had not spoken with in years. In some cases, he apologized and asked for forgiveness, and in others, he offered forgiveness.
Like Morrie Schwartz, Anne’s father was terminally ill. He used the final months of his life to bring peace to those he forgave, those he asked forgiveness of, and himself. When he spoke to people, he was often greeted with, “Oh Clayton, I forgave you long ago.” Or “Thank you, I had no idea what I did to offend you. I am sorry.” In every case, a wonderful conversation ensued.
Like her father, Anne too held onto grudges. She, too, often revisited past hurts; sometimes, she was angry with herself but directed her anger towards someone else. Like her father, through the lessons of Morrie Schwartz, Anne learned the importance and value of forgiving herself. And, like her father, Anne reached out to both give and ask for forgiveness. It was a cathartic experience that led to healed relationships and rekindled friendships. While some were unwilling to grant forgiveness for their hurts, Anne is content in having offered her apology.
Sometimes she still struggles when feeling hurt by others. Sometimes it takes a while before she can bring herself to forgive. But one thing Anne is quick to do is to apologize and ask for forgiveness when she is aware that she has hurt or offended someone else.
Anne reminds us that people rarely intend to offend us just as we rarely intend to offend others, but what really matters is impact. If our words or actions have a negative impact, we need to apologize, to ask forgiveness.
Anne also acknowledges that we will only know when our words or actions have had a negative impact if the other person lets us know. Feedback is essential.
If you feel hurt or offended by the words or actions of another, you must let them know so they can make amends. If you have been holding onto a grudge, a memory of being offended, If you have been drinking poison and expecting the other person to die, perhaps it is time for you to forgive them and let it go.
It's a perfect day to forgive everyone, everything, including yourself.