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

BY: Rob Kerby, Senior Editor

 

Continued from page 3

disabilities that he has endured, but I have enjoyed this special time in his sunset years. He is not as distracted. He is gentler.

“He’s always been a wonderful person. It was hard for him that Mother went first, but God knows what He’s doing. Always before, we kids went home to see her. If he was there, that was well and good. But now that she’s gone, we go home to see him. And he loves it. And I love being with him.

“I remember one day when I was really beating myself up and taking responsibility for my marriage falling apart – just pouring my heart out. Daddy said, ‘Quit beating yourself up. We all live under God’s grace and we just do the best we can.’

“Whenever I go home, there’s always a bouquet of flowers in my room with a handwritten note that reads, ‘Welcome home. Daddy.’”

The Rev. Graham in the mid-1990s

What has she learned through her personal ordeal?

She says she will never again attempt to live up to other people’s expectations. “For years, I was very good at fooling myself. I don’t know if I fooled other people – I certainly never fooled God.

“I have realized that I have an audience of One. As long as He’s happy with me, then that’s OK. You can’t please all those other people anyway. There’s always going to be somebody who doesn’t think you measure up.

“At each stage as I went through this, I knew I loved the Lord. There was no question of that. At each stage, He has taken me deeper. And I don’t like the fact that the deep things of God are taught in suffering.

“As a result, I know God’s grace in a way that I never would have otherwise. I’m learning to tell myself the truth. “

She wants others to enjoy that freedom, too.

“Transparency is so lacking today,” she says. “You and I feel like we can’t be honest. We have to protect ourselves, especially to hide any flaws that we have. We feel we have to put on our masks and say ‘Everything’s OK and I’ve got it all together and I’m doing just great.’

“But, people aren’t doing just great. They aren’t OK and they don’t have it all together.

The Grahams and their three daughters, late 1950s

“So, we hide it. We don’t feel we can be honest. We can’t take off that mask and be real. We fear that if we do, we’ll become targets — marginalized, criticized, victimized.”

“I finally decided that I was going to admit that I don’t have it all together – but God does. I want to share that and also to dialogue with my readers – so they can unburden themselves – making my column a confessional of sorts. And they will find no condemnation from me. I am not into shaming people.

“I believe in passing along God’s grace.”

Read more from Ruth Graham's thoughts on honesty and transparency in her Beliefnet blog, Safe Place.

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