Ruth Graham Hopes Tale of Brokenness Will Help Others

CBN.com 700 Club Producer Shannon Woodland sat down with Billy Graham's daughter Ruth Graham to discuss Ruth's latest book, In Every Pew Sits a Broken Heart.

SHANNON WOODLAND: Ruth, the obvious question is, and maybe it’s rather trite, but why write a book about all the hard things in your life? Why do that?

RUTH GRAHAM: The reason I wrote the book was that for years I sat in the pew with a broken heart.

SHANNON WOODLAND (reporting): Ruth Graham is the third child of evangelist Billy Graham. Her recent book, In Every Pew Sits a Broken Heart, is not of the feel-good, warm fuzzy variety. It’s more like "this is my life, and it’s been hard, but God is walking through it with me."

(to Ruth Graham): What was the hardest thing to write about? What was the hardest thing to often think about?

RUTH GRAHAM: That is a very good question. Certainly, my own frailties. I think the thing that is very difficult for me is that disastrous second marriage. I had made such a big mistake. I had lost so much in that. I had lost respect for myself, and that was really hard to forgive myself for. I really had not talked about this publicly. It’s only been in the last year that I’ve been able to do that.

SHANNON WOODLAND (reporting): Through bitter personal experience, Ruth has learned many things, mainly that God is in the business of picking up broken pieces of broken lives.

(to Ruth Graham): May I be so bold to say, you’re Billy Graham’s daughter; I’d think you’d have your act all together?

Ruth Graham with her father, Billy GrahamRUTH GRAHAM: It doesn’t matter who you are or what family you come from. Life happens. And life brings you blows that you don’t expect. It happens to Billy Graham’s family, too.

SHANNON WOODLAND: Did you set standards for yourself that were super human? Was that part of the problem?

RUTH GRAHAM: I had a self-imposed image that I thought I had to maintain. It certainly didn’t come from Mother and Daddy. It was some idea, and the idea that I had to carry God’s reputation. I wanted God to look good. God can carry His own reputation, thank you very much. He doesn’t need my help.

SHANNON WOODLAND (reporting): Ruth’s book tells the story of a complicated, sometimes messy life. She talks candidly about the not-so-pretty things of her life -- divorce, depression, and even her children’s struggles with teen pregnancy, drug abuse, and eating disorders.

(to Ruth Graham): Why did you think it was necessary to go that far, even with your children, with the difficulties?

RUTH GRAHAM: First let me say that I had their permission and they had editorial rights. They, all of them, realize that to be open with their struggles is to minister to others. We don’t want to hang out the dirty laundry, so to speak. We try very hard not to do that. We talked about how God was faithful to us through these situations. The daughter who had the eating disorder talks to groups of teenagers about this, the daughter who had the two babies out of wedlock is helping others who are going through the same thing, and my son who dabbled in drugs talks very openly in his testimony about how God has seen him through that. So we worked through trying to hide it; we’ve worked through that part. We want to minister, and being authentic allows for ministry.

SHANNON WOODLAND (reporting): Ruth often feared the stigma of being 'the divorced daughter of Billy Graham.' But it was through the love of her family that God showed Ruth that He was there through it all.

RUTH GRAHAM: They were certainly hurt by what happened. They watched my struggles and they hurt for me, but they were so supportive and so loving. I had made a terrible choice and went into a disastrous second marriage. I realized the mistake, and I was going home. These fears multiplied and my adrenalin kept my feet on the gas. Questions rolled in my mind. What will my life be like? What will they say to me? What will I say to them? As I rounded the last bend in my parent’s driveway and saw my father standing there, I got out of the car and he wrapped his arms around me and said, 'Welcome home.' It was a wonderful picture of a father’s love for a broken child.

SHANNON WOODLAND: What do you hope that this book will do for people? What was your ultimate goal?

RUTH GRAHAM: I sort of had two goals in mind. One was for people who are hurting to know they’re not alone and that struggle is part of the human condition, that no one is exempt. Being a Christian doesn’t mean that everything is going to fall into place and that life is going to be smooth. Then my other goal was to equip people who want to minister to the hurting but don’t know how. Some people don’t know what to say, so they say nothing; or they don’t know what to do, so they do nothing. That’s the wrong approach. We need to know how. I wanted to give tools to people who wanted to help, and I wanted to make it a practical book as well.

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