How I Discovered the Truth About God’s Grace…
And Found Restoration for My Broken Soul
by Ruth Graham
“What was it like growing up in of Billy Graham’s home?” That’s almost always the first question people ask me. Or someone I have never met will come up to me and say, “I know who you are.” It may seem odd but I am never quite sure what they mean by that or what they expect my response to be. Sometimes I will say, with a smile, “I’m glad you do because I have been trying to figure it out for years!”
Growing up in my home was probably the same as growing up in your home. It was as normal for me as yours was for you! Your father may have been a plumber, pastor, businessman, doctor…but he was your dad. My father was a preacher who traveled.
We were very proud of him but my parents did not raise us to think of ourselves as special. We were different, not special. They never expected us to live up to some false expectations or live our lives to reflect well on them. Over and over they told us that we represented the Lord Jesus and to live in a way that would honor Him.
There were times I worked hard to meet other people's expectations – I wore myself out and people still weren't happy! I felt so many people were watching and I was a disappointment because of my failures and sins. I am a work in process. Being Billy Graham's daughter is part of what I am – not who I am.
My father is a very loving and grace-filled man. Let me tell you how God’s grace, working through him, changed my life.
Years ago, I learned my husband had been unfaithful for years. I was devastated but I tried to cover his actions, thinking I was honoring God. I was the victim in my eyes and became self-righteous, resentful, and bitter in my heart. As long as I was the long-suffering, faithful wife, I looked good to others and to myself. But while I looked good on the outside, God saw the hardness of my heart and my self-righteousness.
If we were to rank sins, perhaps self-righteousness is the “worst” sin. God hates it because self-righteousness and pride go hand in hand. So even though I made the choice to forgive, I could not maneuver the hurdle of reconciliation. My husband had broken my trust and my heart. Sadly, the marriage did not survive. It ended in divorce after 21 years.
While the marriage was over, the hurt and resentment were not. I had to get on with my life. But how? In an effort to move on, my family thought it would be a good idea to move away and get a fresh start. I moved to be near my older sister and her family. It wasn’t long before the pastor of the church I attended introduced me to a handsome widower.
“I wanted to hide but I had to confront myself and my sins. I had to tell myself the truth.”
We began dating fast and furiously. My children didn’t like him but I fell head over heels. My family warned me but I thought I knew what was best for my life. I was praying and reading the Bible. I chose to ignore the red flags. I wasn’t telling myself the truth. I was manipulating Scripture and advice to fit my desires.
After knowing him six months, I married him on New Year’s Eve. It was not long until I realized I had made a big mistake. I became afraid of him and after five weeks, I fled.
I wanted to hide but I had to confront myself and my sins. My willfullness. My stubbornness. I had to tell myself the truth. I had to ask for forgiveness from God, my children, my family and myself.
Weary and brokenhearted, I decided to visit my parents’ home in North Carolina. It was a two-day drive and fears multiplied with each mile. Questions swirled in my mind. I was full of shame and guilt. I saw myself as I was: weak, sinful and in need of forgiveness, love and mercy.
Fear gripped my heart while adrenaline kept my foot on the gas. As I rounded the last bend in the driveway, I saw my father standing there – waiting for me. As I got out of the car, he wrapped his arms around me and said, “Welcome home.”
That one act of grace changed my life.
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Romans 5:1-2 NKJV