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Restoration Through Desperate Forgiveness

A ROCKY START
Before the media frenzy, there were problems in the Robertson household.  Alan’s father Phil was always partying with his buddies, leaving mother Kay alone at home with the three boys (Jep had not been born yet).  The brothers were very close.   Being the oldest boy, many of the responsibilities fell on Alan during this hardship. He wasn’t able to enjoy his childhood and had to grow up fast. When his father became a Christian, Phil taught his family the principles of God but when Al went to high school, he fell in with the wrong crowd. By the time he was a senior, Al lost interest in all spiritual things and started enjoying worldly experiences.  

Lisa grew up in West Monroe.  When she was 7, a male relative molested her until she was 14.  Though the abuse did not involved sexual intercourse, Lisa carried the shame and secret for decades.  In 6th grade, Lisa caught a glimpse of Al, who was new to the school as an 8th grader.  Al says he was vaguely aware of Lisa but did not pay attention to her. Al finally asked Lisa out when she was a sophomore.  Once considered a good girl, Lisa started drinking and smoking with him.  

Lisa dreamed of marrying Al after graduation, but after high school, Al’s parents threw him out of the house, and he moved in with his aunt in New Orleans for a year and a half.  Al and Lisa talked about having a long-distance relationship but Al had other plans.  Devastated, Lisa eventually found a new boyfriend and eventually got pregnant.  Sadly Lisa chose to have an abortion.  “What a mess I was after Al broke up with me,” says Lisa.  “I had no idea that I could have used that time in my life to step back, look for God and discover my own sense of identity. She has learned to forgive herself. “No matter what you’ve done, God is big enough to heal it.”  

Al moved back to Monroe after a major wake up call.  His girlfriend at the time had an ex-boyfriend who came after Al with a crowbar.  Al felt like the Lord told him to go home.  He recommitted his life to Christ and his dad baptized him in the Ouachita River.  Al and Lisa started dating in a God-honoring fashion and were married in 1984, but Al was still not aware that Lisa was molested as a young girl.  (Eventually she told him part of the story.) “I did not realize for quite some time how much I had hurt Lisa,” says Al.  “Not picking her up when we went out in high school but asking her to meet me, never having any money to even buy her a hamburger, introducing her to alcohol and…basically abandoning her.”

BETRAYAL
In the late 1980s, the duck call business was having a hard time.  “Interest in the hunting industry was low,” says Al.  Al and Jase went to seminary.  “It was a challenging time because I was immersed full-time and preached every weekend,” says Al.  While there were parts of being a minister’s wife that she loved, Lisa felt unworthy and struggled with that for the first 10 years of their marriage.  “Her feelings of unworthiness stemmed from her abuse,” says Al.  Then in 1989, Lisa had an inappropriate but non-sexual relationship with a man where she was working at the bank.  “It’s not that it happened, but it’s that we didn’t recognize how it even happened,” says Al.  “Looking back, we never dealt with Lisa’s abuse and the pain was always there.”

In 1998, Al was working full-time at White’s Ferry Road Church and Lisa was working at Duck Commander when she reconnected with an old boyfriend.  “It was a full-blown affair for 14 months,” says Al.  “That was the big moment.  For awhile, I didn’t know if I could forgive her.”  Even though she had gone to church for years, Lisa fell down on her face before God in her backyard.  “God, I can’t get any lower.  I have to find some kind of relationship with You,” she cried.  They were separated for a month, but something inside of Al told him she was redeemable and that their marriage was worth saving.  “The best thing I was able to do by God’s grace was to forgive Lisa completely,” says Al.  “Practicing forgiveness meant I would never use the affair to hurt her or hurt us.  When I forgave her, it became off-limits as a weapon in conversations and arguments.”

Not everyone was supportive of Al and Lisa’s decision to reconcile.  Nonetheless, Al and Lisa began their journey by going to counseling together and committing to doing what they both needed to do along with a lot of prayer and Bible study.  In December of that year, Al and Lisa renewed their vows.  “Once Al and I renewed our vows, our marriage did start over,” says Lisa.  “Getting off to a new beginning was not always easy, but we were committeed.  We rebuilt our relationship on godly principles, using the Bible as our authority and guide.”  That Christmas was awkward during the family celebration.  “No one was unkind to me,” she says.  “But I understood why they did not trust me.  Rebuilding relationships was going to take time.”  Al reminds us what the writer of Hebrews says about forgiveness in 8:12, I will forgive them and remember their sins no more.  This concept applies to every relationship.  “We are living proof that forgiveness is doable,” says Al.  “Not only does it work in your life, but it allows you to help someone else realize that process.  That’s why we can talk about it.”

Alan says forgiveness is a daily thing and recommends 13 disciplines on the road to redemption: 1. Seek forgiveness now; 2. Continually seek forgiveness as a way of life; 3. Forgive others now; 4. Forgive them again and again; 5. Forgive yourself; 6. Forget it; 7. Remember your victories over sin and celebrate them; 8. Realize you’re fighting a lifelong struggle with sin; 9. Love much; 10. Forgive those nearest and dearest; 11. Forgive political and idealogical enemies; 12. Seek out sinners; and 13. Pay forgiveness forward.

Today Alan and Lisa help people work through rough times in their marriages.  One couple they knew had been married for 48 years and the husband had an affair.  They helped this couple work through the process.“God restored us and redeemed us and we want to pay it forward,” says Lisa.  “Our work is never done,” says Alan.  “Until the Lord comes and takes us home, we owe it to Him to help others in their relationships.”

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Guest Info

Credits

Authors, their latest: Desperate Forgiveness, Howard Publishing 2019

Stars, Duck Dynasty, series ended 3/2017

Al: Bachelor’s, Ministry, Sunset International Bible Institute

Married, 35 years to Lisa

2 Children

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