Ruth Graham's been through the fire, says it's time for honesty

The daughter of the Rev. Billy Graham shares what it's like to watch her famous father grow older -- as well as the heartache she has endured -- and challenges us all to be truthful, no matter who we are

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That wasn’t Ruth’s problem, however. She had a deeply spiritual experience at a very early age – and her parents kept the Graham kids out of the public eye. Little Gigi, Anne, Ruth, Franklin and Ned met scores of famous people who enjoyed her father’s friendship: Johnny Cash, John Wayne, Martin Luther King and every President from Eisenhower on – “but those were Mother and Daddy’s friends,” Ruth recalls. “We met them, but that was all.”

Little Ruth with her parents and brother Franklin in the mid-1950s

And as a girl she never had to fake spirituality, “I really did have a genuine relationship with the Lord,” she recalls. “I gave my heart to Jesus when I was seven, kneeling beside my bed with my mother. At age 11, I made that commitment public by going forward at the altar call at a church revival held by a friend of my father. Daddy went with me.”

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As a 15-year-old, she left home for an exclusive boarding school in New York. There, “I came down with mononucleosis and I was miserable.” All alone, it was just her and God. “I just had to claim my faith as my own. At that point, it was no longer Mother or Daddy’s faith, it was mine.”

She avoided teenage rebellion – didn’t smoke, drink or do drugs. Although it was the height of the 1960s-70s counter-culture, she had no desire to join a hippie commune or hitchhike to San Francisco.

“I went to college and married and had children.” But in the 1990s, her world fell apart when her husband was unfaithful. After 18 years of marriage, Ruth was devastated. They went through months of counseling before admitting defeat. Then just a few months after the divorce, she remarried “on the rebound” but knew within 24 hours that she’d made a terrible mistake. Her life a shambles, she loaded up everything and sought refuge with her parents.

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Rob Kerby, Senior Editor
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