Cover Image: Forgiving My Father, Forgiving Myself

Forgiving My Father, Forgiving Myself

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In Christian evangelical circles, everyone recognizes the name Billy Graham. So almost everyone will recognize this new book Forgiving My Father, Forgiving Myself by the daughter of the well-known evangelist, Ruth Graham. While there are no new revelations about their relationship, Ruth does share honestly about her struggles to both offer and receive forgiveness, both from her earthly parents as well as her heavenly father for the sins she confesses as well as for mistakes made against wise counsel.

While not a theological book, Graham present a good theology of forgiveness - Christ’s forgiveness, Jesus’ teaching regarding forgiveness, and the living out of these biblical principles. At the same time, she shares honestly the struggles and does not minimize the challenges of true forgiveness. Consistently there is helpful practice advice, often from personal experience, on how to process the emotions that arise in various places along the forgiveness journey. Likewise, she confronts some false platitudes about forgiveness.

The one note of caution appeared rather unexpectedly in chapter 6 as Graham discussed the relationship between reconciliation and forgiveness. She recounted the circumstances leading up to the marriage of her third husband, and then writes,

“That marriage lasted almost ten years before, sadly, it ended in divorce. However, we remain friends to this day and often go to movies together. He sometimes joins my children and me for holiday dinners.”

In a chapter on reconciliation, this “friendly divorce” seems to betray the real meaning of reconciliation. For me, without some explanation of the context (perhaps she has written about it elsewhere?), this makes her advice and vulnerability seem hollow in this section.

Fortunately, in chapter 10 Graham explains how she eventually came to the realization of her childhood "abandonment" issues resulting in her repeated poor and sinful choices, including romantic relationships. Without excusing her sin, she identifies clearly the struggle to acknowledge her personal issues and to deal with and receive forgiveness.

Overall, this is a helpful and thorough book on forgiveness and I would commend it to any Christian, especially any who have experienced a serious betrayal (eg. marital infidelity).

Note: This book was provided to the reviewer in exchange for an unbiased review on the blog by Baker Books as part of the Baker Books Bloggers program.

You may also enjoy this book by Billy Graham’s son, Franklin: Through my Father ’s Eyes (Baker 2018).
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Ruth Graham’s book Forgiving My Father, Forgiving Myself is a book of self-revelation and vulnerable sharing. Her father, Billy Graham, was well known throughout the world. In the evangelical church, he is nearly a saint. It is not surprising that Ms. Graham reveals her wounding by her father’s abandonment due to his constant travel and ministry duties. The author shares her heart and vulnerability around her abandonment issues on almost every page. 
	The story is bittersweet since it talks of falling from grace and the journey back to redemption. This book, for me, was bittersweet in other ways as well. It spoke to me of the damage inflicted by the church in putting ministry above family and the ripple effect from abandonment in a person’s life. Ms. Graham also touches on the unspoken rule of the Christian evangelical church that if one is a Christian, and especially a child or spouse of a well-known Christian, one must always appear perfect on the outside while denying deep wounds at the same time. Ms. Graham’s book speaks of the shame birthed in that environment and how shame wreaks havoc through life choices. 
	This book addressed forgiveness but more importantly, the author acknowledges the challenges one faces to forgive; which helps the reader feel understood and even hopeful if they are still struggling to forgive someone in their own life. The story became disjointed for me near the end of the book when the author seemed to fall into a “Bible study mode” as opposed to telling her story. Nonetheless, it is a good read and I would recommend it to anyone who seeks to forgive others or themselves.
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I received a digital ARC from NetGAlley in exchange for a honest review: 

Forgiveness.  An important topic to read about, but this book didn't catch my interest. 
Might be a better fit for someone else.
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