Dear Anna Duggar

An open letter to Anna Duggar…and to others finding themselves in similar situations…

Dear Anna Duggar,

You don’t know me and I don’t know you or Josh.  I have, however, frequently thought of you and prayed for you over the past few weeks, as the daily news has dissected your marital relationship while exposing Josh’s infidelities.

According to reporters, your friends say “Anna will not leave him,” “She is fully and permanently committed to her marriage and her children,” and “Divorce is not even something that will be discussed.”  Your friend reportedly went on to say that you will try “on some level” to “absorb some of the blame…Maybe not publicly, ever, but privately, there will be some suggestion of whether or not she should have been more aware of the pressures Josh was under, of the issues he was facing, and how she could have better counseled him or helped him.”

Anna, your decisions and struggles during this time are yours alone, and I (a complete stranger) would not be so brazen as to attempt to tell you what decisions are right for you in this situation.

I want you to know my heart breaks for you.

I have some idea of the pain and confusion you must be experiencing, because I have faced similar situations.  Like you, I was raised believing that marriage is godly while divorce is ungodly…that divorce is always the fault of both parties…that God hates divorce…and that divorce is not an option for a true Christian.  And like you, I was faced with the reality of a repeatedly unfaithful spouse.  Although that marriage eventually ended in divorce, for many years I held the position your friend reportedly says you hold.  Determined to choose what I believed was the most godly course…to do what I believed was best for my family…I repeatedly renewed and restored fellowship, determined to avoid divorce.

My prayer for you is that you will learn of God’s grace through divorce more quickly than I did.  I pray the Holy Spirit will guide your reading of scripture and open your heart to understand God’s tremendous heart of grace and redemption toward His children who are in a covenant relationship with an oath breaker.  For your sake and the sake of your children, I pray you will at least seriously contemplate the possibility that divorce may be your best and most godly course of action.

I don’t know if divorce is the best choice for you.  How could I?  I do know you have some very difficult decisions before you.  I do know there is no easy path before you…that whether you choose divorce or reconciliation your path is filled with sorrow and anguish.  Divorce at least limits the anguish to a finite period of time allowing you and your children to heal and get on with life.  Reconciliation to an unrepentant adulterer is a path of never-ending pain and sorrow…lies continually renewed with freshly broken vows.

And therein lies the wrestling with your most difficult question, “Is Josh truly repentant?”

Your instinct will likely be (as reported by your friend) to believe he is truly repentant…because believing otherwise turns your entire life upside down.  And maybe he is…only God knows.

I pray you at least consider the very real possibility Josh may not be truly repentant…that he may go right back to the same traitorously adulterous behavior.  As harsh as that reality is to face, it is a very real possibility meriting serious exploration before making final decisions in regard to you and your children’s welfare.  Josh has repeatedly proven himself to be completely untrustworthy and entirely willing to egregiously violate his sacred marriage vows, fully realizing both the pain that causes you and your children as well the damage inflicted on your relationship.  Josh did not unintentionally ‘fall’ into an adulterous relationship with an acquaintance…rather he used the internet to actively seek out and pursue adultery.  To now take his word at face value would be neither wisdom nor faith.  Rather, it would be a refusal to accept reality.  Choosing to fully trust the proven untrustworthy is not inviting God into the situation.  Rather it is shutting the full reality of the situation out of the decision making process.

I pray you will not allow yourself to carry the burden of Josh’s guilt.  To do so is both unhealthy and unbiblical.  Yes, I’m sure you have made mistakes yourself.  That does not make you responsible for Josh’s sin.  There is a huge difference between unintentional minor mistakes and intentional egregious violations of sacred covenant vows.

Finally, my prayer for you is that God will use even this experience for your good and for His glory.  That whether this marriage is renewed or ends in divorce, you will learn God’s faithfulness in all of life’s circumstances.  I pray you will emerge from this with a deeper understanding of God’s heart of love and redemption and a fuller grace toward all of His children.

May God continue to richly bless and keep you, now and through eternity.

 

Sincerely,

Your brother in Christ, Joseph J. Pote

 

[Linked to Messy Marriage, Wild Flowers, Wellspring, Redeemed Life, Tell His Story ]

27 thoughts on “Dear Anna Duggar

  1. Yes, well said, I’ve had their whole family on my heart recently as well. I do hope and pray and Anna and anyone in such a situation remembers that a marriage is between two people and that staying together for the children isn’t helpful if the parents don’t love and respect each other.
    I especially like what you said about being trustworthy. A person can be forgiven for a sin, but that doesn’t mean that they are trusted. Those are two different things. Honestly, no matter what your sin is you have to live with the consequences of it and more often than not, earning a persons trust is one of those consequences.

    • “A person can be forgiven for a sin, but that doesn’t mean that they are trusted. Those are two different things.”

      Yes! So many people seem to thing forgiveness requires trust and complete restoration to the previous depth of relationship. But that’s a fals perception. Forgiveness and trust are two completely different things.

      The biblical story of David and Saul gives us a good example of forgiveness without trust and without restoration of relationship.

      http://josephjpote.com/2012/05/forgiveness-with-boundaries/

      Thank you, Tabitha. I love you! 🙂

  2. Joseph, what a beautiful opened letter. It was well written, and with a lot of thought. Your a fine Christian man, and to reach out to Anna, with an open heart, is heartwarming. You opened up your life to her, to try to help her, and
    maybe to understand, this is NOT her fault.

    • No, it’s not her fault…not at all.

      Far too often, people try to assign blame to the innocent spouse…and they are often quick to shoulder that blame…to try to latch onto anything they can do to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

      But in the end, none of us is responsible for another person’s sin, and someone seeking an adulterous relationship will find one regardless of what their spouse may or may not do.

      Thank you, Denise!
      joe recently posted…Dear Anna DuggarMy Profile

  3. Joe, Thank you for writing with such compassion and honesty. Praying for Anna, the children and others in similar circumstances.
    Praying that Anna would have a good support system. So many of us working through such turmoil need more emotional and physical strength to guide us through the fog.

    • “Praying that Anna would have a good support system. So many of us working through such turmoil need more emotional and physical strength to guide us through the fog.”

      Thank you, HIH, for pointing out her possible need for a support system. Being part of the Duggar family, it is easy to assume she has a good support system. However, the support from the Duggars is likely to be well-intentioned but very one-sided. It may be the sort of support that is only available so long as she makes decisions they agree with.

      Lord God, please provide Anna with a strong support system. Please surround her with people who will point her to your grace and redemption while supporting whatever decisions she makes in regard to her marriage to Josh.
      joe recently posted…Dear Anna DuggarMy Profile

  4. I agree, Joe. I’m glad that you’ve written this letter and whether Anna ever reads it or not, there are many who are in her same situation and need to know there is grace–especially when our mates break the covenant of marriage. Thanks for always bringing light to a rather controversial and often avoided point of view that is, in my view, clearly biblical as well.

    BTW, I read a response that Paige Patterson put out to Southern Baptist’s about his view or the denominations view of marriage. In it he included the statement that divorce is always something that is wrong (I can’t remember exact wording, but that was the gist). I wish he had made the distinction there that it is wrong in the case of the person who is unrepentant. But so many marriages end in divorce when one mate has been nothing short of completely faithful. It is a tragedy for them and we heap shame on them because we do not acknowledge what has been done to them and that is out of their control. The church will lose many over this very issue! Breaks my heart!

    • Yes, although I posted a link on the Duggar Facebook page I will be very surprised if Anna reads the letter. I expect she is likely overwhelmed with way too much unsolicited input from total strangers. And that’s okay.

      Although addressed to Anna, the letter is intended just as much for others in similar situations. And some have already let me know God used this letter to encourage them. He is so good!

      And yes, thoughtless statements that ‘divorce is wrong’ or ‘divorce is sin’, no matter how well intended, are of absolutely no benefit to those facing divorce…and they present a very distorted view of the biblical perspective of marriage and divorce. I’m glad you picked up on the lack of disctinction in Patterson’s statement.

      Blessings to you, my friend!
      joe recently posted…Dear Anna DuggarMy Profile

  5. Joe,
    So well put. It was as if you were wrapping your arm around her to give her comfort. Praying for Anna and the kids. This is more than anyone should have to live with.

  6. Joe, another beautiful example of your tender perspective regarding the difficulties in marriage.
    I especially appreciate your comment about none of us having the right to judge or advise how she should respond to this situation. None of us are in her shoes.
    I hope they each get competent, professional help to process through this challenging time.

    • “I especially appreciate your comment about none of us having the right to judge or advise how she should respond to this situation. None of us are in her shoes.”

      No…nobody can make these choices for her. Anna has some tough decisions ahead that only she can make…and she is the primary adult who will have to live with whatever comes of those decisions.

      I pray she is able to quiet all the outside voices enough to listen to the Holy Spirit.

      And, yes, they could each benefit from competent professional counsel.

      Thank you, Denise!
      joe recently posted…Dear Anna DuggarMy Profile

  7. My prayers have been with Anna Duggar too. Such a tough spot she’s in. Praying she’ll cling to grace for whatever decision she makes! I sure am glad I didn’t have to live in the spotlight when I was going through my divorce. It’s hard enough in any circumstances, but to have the whole world watching and judging must be extremely difficult. 🙁
    Lisa notes recently posted…8 reasons why . . .My Profile

    • Same here!

      Both the multiple reconciliations and the divorce were periods of such high stress and so much self-doubt and questioning…wondering at times if I was even capable of making a right decision.

      I hate to think how all of that would be multiplied in the spotlight of fame…with hundreds of thousands of strangers acting as though they have the right to micromanage one’s very personal decisions…all shouting very emotional advice…

      I’m astounded at how quick people have been to heap shame on Anna who is the primary innocent victim in all of this scandal.

      Thank you, Lisa, both for your heart of grace and for your encouragement.
      joe recently posted…Dear Anna DuggarMy Profile

  8. Joe, What a wonderfully compassionate open letter to anyone in this situation. Although I do believe it is possible to restore a marriage when both parties are repentant and willing to put in the work, I do agree that it would be nearly impossible with one still living unfaithfully and causing continued pain.

    I must be living under a rock, I don’t know anything about this although the name is familiar to me. Perhaps I need to turn on a TV?
    Kim Adams Morgan recently posted…On Suffering and Being Sifted for ChristMy Profile

    • “Although I do believe it is possible to restore a marriage when both parties are repentant and willing to put in the work, I do agree that it would be nearly impossible with one still living unfaithfully and causing continued pain.”

      I completely agree, Kim.

      Of course, the difficulty for the betrayed spouse is in trying to determine the level of true repentance in the unfaithful spouse. Having lived through such a situation myself, I have a lot of grace for whatever decision the betrayed spouse makes…it is not an easy decision and lends itself to lots of second guessing.

      However, within the Christian community there is often a LOT of pressure to forgive and forget…to accept the verbal apology as sincere repentance…and go about life as though the unfaithfulness had never happened. And that’s just not wise…nor biblical. Even if the repentance is sincere there are a lot of components and a lot of hard work to rebuilding the relationship. And more often than not, a spouse who has cheated once is likely to do it again…especially if the only consequences were having to apologize and act humble for a few weeks…

      Thank you, Kim!
      joe recently posted…Dear Anna DuggarMy Profile

    • I forgot to add, the Duggar family has been the basis of the reality TV show “19 Kids and Counting.” They are a large family located in northwest Arkansas. The show has been quite popular among Christian viewers largely because they are one of the few television shows that includes an outspoken faith in Christ.

      But, one of the sons, Josh Duggar, was recently involved in mutliple scandals, the most recent being caught with multiple accounts to a website specifically designed to help people cheat on their spouses.

      More here: http://www.msn.com/en-us/tv/celebrity/josh-duggar-ive-been-the-biggest-hypocrite-ever/ar-BBlWcKq?ocid=ansmsnent11
      joe recently posted…Dear Anna DuggarMy Profile

      • “…the most recent being caught with multiple accounts to a website specifically designed to help people cheat on their spouses.”
        UGH … what more needs to be said except for the fact that NOTHING WILL change without genuine, true REPENTANCE before a holy and awesome God.
        Once again, Thank you, Joe for speaking Truth and revealing truth – Truth with repentance does set us free.

  9. Thank you, especially for this: ” divorce may be your best and most godly course of action.”

    This validation for those of us in similar circumstances is, as you may well know, a balm to wounded souls.

    And as others have commented, no one can walk Anna’s path for her. Her choices and decisions belong to her alone, and I would support HER in whichever path she chooses. She is the victim here and needs full support, not condemnation or shared assumed guilt of any kind from strangers, family, or church.

    Thank you, Joe, for speaking truth in love.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge