Lisa Robertson: He sent His son to the cross for every sin, He sent His son to the cross for women who have had abortions. So, whenever I look at the cross and I look at that blood that drained down that cross, if I cannot forgive myself – what I’m saying is, “That’s not enough.” But it has to be enough.
End of Excerpt
John Fuller: Lisa Robertson. And we’re going hear more from her and her husband Al today on Focus on the Family. I’m John Fuller along with your host, Focus president and author, Jim Daly.
Jim Daly: John, I’m so excited to share this program with Al and Lisa Robertson. Uh, just a few months ago, we traveled to five different cities in five days. That was a whirlwind tour.
John: It was.
Jim: Uh, we visited with different guests who shared strong pro-life messages with our audiences. And we loved seeing the enthusiasm and heart of the folks in these cities. They truly care about taking a stand for life. And you’ll hear their passion and fire in the background. And I know you’ll be encouraged by what Al and Lisa have to share.
John: And this conversation was recorded at Mount Paran Church in Atlanta, Georgia. Let’s pick it up as the event kicked off.
John: Welcome to a special Focus on the Family broadcast recorded in Atlanta, Georgia.
John: That is awesome. And Jim, that’s the kind of energy we’re trying to bring across the nation as we celebrate God’s great victory that we saw on May 4, 2019, as we gathered together in Times Square. We saw a live ultrasound of a baby. It was an awesome experience. And we’re going to be doing this again, only not just one city, but five cities.
Jim: That’s right. We’re going to do Southern California, Dallas, uh, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Atlanta – here in Atlanta – and also Chicago. So, we’re looking forward to it.
John: Live ultrasounds, music.
John: It’s going to be a great day. And it is on…
Jim: May 9th, so mark your calendars and participate. I’m sure we’re going to have people fly in. People flew in from all over the country to join us in Times Square. And now we’re making it possible for you to be even closer. So, if you’re in the West, jump into Dallas or Southern Cal. And if you’re out here on the East Coast, come into Florida or Georgia or join us, uh, in Chicago…
Jim: …any of those cities.
John: From what I understand, if you’re in Atlanta, you’re within a few hours away.
Jim: (Laughter) That’s right – traffic, oh.
John: A lot of traffic.
Jim: That’s all right.
Jim: We can do that on May 9. And mark your calendars. We’ll have more details at the Focus website for location, time, et cetera.
Jim: But we’re going to do it at the same time, five cities simulcast. Uh, we’re gonna have five different ultrasounds occurring. And I think the reason we’re doing this is really simple. Show them the baby. And that puts the pressure on them to know exactly what they’re doing. And I’ll say, John, from the New York event, it was amazing with those protesters. You know, so often, I think of that, and I realize I don’t think any of them had seen an ultrasound or heard the heartbeat of that pre-born baby before because when I looked into their faces, I could see they were stunned. It was like they were startled at what they were hearing and seeing. And I just credit that to something Chuck Colson once told me. “You don’t get angry when a blind man steps on your foot.” And what this is doing is showing people that are blinded spiritually what it is they’re fighting for, which is the taking of innocent human life. And to be able to show them that this is a baby – that New York event, that baby was yawning, waking up from a nap, and the sonographer expressed that and said that to the crowd there. And I’m telling you what. It’s as human as you and I. The story of the blob tissue is over.
John: Mm hmm.
Jim: So, we’re looking forward to it, May 9.
John: Yeah, and one of the things that, Jim, we’re sensitive to any time we come to this topic is that there are listeners in the audience who have experienced an abortion, men and women. And, um, we’re cognizant that there’s – there’s some pain, there’s guilt, there’s shame. But we’re here today with a message of forgiveness. And we have Al and Lisa Robertson to share their story with us. You know them from the hit A&E show Duck Dynasty. But we used to be able to say, “Al, you’re the beardless one,” but not anymore, so.
Jim: He’s grown it back.
John: Looks good.
Al Robertson: You know, I – I sold out.
Jim: Hey, we got a razor for you.
Al: Well, no, I’ve decided the money’s too good on the bearded side.
Jim: You were the orphan beardless one.
Al: I was the orphan preacher, you know, just struggling to survive. And now I’ve decided I’m just going to join in with the ranks. Just let it go. Who knew that vagrancy was such a look? I didn’t know it. Who knew it could catch on, right?
Jim: Lisa, how have you kept this guy straight for so many years? (Laughter).
Lisa: It’s been a tough job. And I’m telling you, that beard is not to stay.
Jim: How does Miss Kay settle with Phil – Phil’s beard? I mean, that’s amazing.
Al: She says that if she were to wake up and look over and see my dad beardless, she would think she had committed adultery.
Al: That’s what she says, after so many years of having a beard.
John: That beard is just there.
Al: And of course, for me, Lisa says that I’m the best-looking Robertson, which…
John: Is true
Al: …Is a great blessing and an accomplishment, but the bar is so low.
Jim: I don’t know; Si’s pretty cute.
Al: Well, yeah, he is something. I’ll give him that.
Jim: (Laughter) He is something. You know, it’s so funny, every time I’ve been with the family, I’ll say, you know, “Si is so crazy on the program. Is that really him?” And you say, “He’s the closest one to the character,” right? I mean, that is him.
Al: That’s him. And so, the cameras would roll, and we would just react off of Si. And people say – they always ask me – they were like, “Is Si as crazy in everyday life as he is on the show?” And I said, “Look. Si’s insanity is like an iceberg. You see the parts sticking up, but underneath, it’s much deeper. And we haven’t even begun to mine that insanity.” So, trust me, it’ll go on and on and on.
Jim: That’s crazy, man.
Jim: It is fun. Yeah, there’s so many episodes that come to mind. Trent and Troy, my boys, have loved watching it. So again, welcome. We love you guys.
Al: Thank you.
Jim: Um, we all get the gist of what forgiveness is about. But, um, why is it important, especially as believers in Christ, to understand forgiveness?
John: And let me just mention, Al and Lisa wrote a book with Focus on the Family that we have at the website, Desperate Forgiveness. And that’s really what we’re gonna dial into here tonight.
Jim: That’s good. So, let’s get there.
Al: All right.
Jim: What’s forgiveness all about?
Al: Well, I think for – for us what we figured out early on is that forgiveness was a pathway to healing and hope for something out of nothing. In our case, our relationship, our marriage, everything was completely void. We thought we were through. And I think a lot of people find themselves there, whether it’s as a married couple or a mother and a son or daughter. You know, these – it just seems like there’s no hope for the relationship to continue. And, uh, and we were there. There no doubt about it. And we found out that forgiveness became a path. And it doesn’t – you’d think, you know, as Christians, that would just be intuitive. Like, we would just know that instantly. “Well, Christ forgave me; of course, this is our pathway forward.” But when you’re so hurt and you’re so wounded and you’re so consumed by some sinful thing or some – something somebody’s done to you, some pain, it is very difficult to find your way to that place. And so, a lot of people just shut down. They walk away. They quit. And then they’re embittered, you know, and many times, for their whole life.
Jim: No, it’s true. So much of that is – it starts, you know, in the family of origin, the family we grow up in. And although we see Duck Dynasty today, and we see your family at the end praying together over a meal, et cetera, that wasn’t the beginning. And you’re the firstborn in that family. What did you see as a young boy? What was happening in your family that maybe set some patterns in your behavior as a child?
Al: Well, no doubt about it. You know, most people – when – when people talk to me about Mom or Dad, they – they always say the same thing. They say, “We love your mom. We love Miss Kay. Oh, we love her,” you know, “I wish I could hug Miss Kay. And we respect your dad.” It’s always those two things. They don’t say they love Dad. They say they respect Dad, and – you know, because he is who he is. But when I look back over my life because me being, I’m the oldest, you know, I remember Dad being a totally non-respectable person. I mean, nobody respected Dad. Now, a lot of people wanted to be like him. He was a great athlete. He was a great hunter. You know, he was – he could beat people up, you know. So, as a kid, I looked at him, I thought, “Oh, wow, my dad’s running a bar and, you know, fighting people. This is great. He’s so tough.” But then I also saw how badly he treated my mom and how he wasn’t there for us. He was vacant, you know, for my first 10 years. And so, I think that instilled some things in me. I know it put some anger in me, especially when he finally got it turned around, which is a great blessing for our family. But part of me was always just like, well, wait a minute, you know, he never really, you know, paid for what he did. You know, it didn’t seem fair to me and especially some of the stuff that he did to Mom because Mom and I are very close.
Jim: What were you expecting out of him at that point?
Al: You know, I don’t even know, Jim. I just – I thought it was just too easy. I thought, one day he’s like this, and the next day, he’s like this. And so, everybody else was overjoyed, but I was sort of like – the beginning seeds of bitterness were there towards him.
Jim: Huh, interesting.
Al: And I really feel like it’s because I didn’t feel – feel like he had paid his penance. And so, what I never – I didn’t – course, you know, I’m 11 years old, so I don’t understand what Christ had done in this process. But I’m just looking at it as a kid, and I just thought he should do more to apologize and say he’s wrong for all those years he did it. I just felt like it was just too quick. And so, you know, I don’t know that I – in the moment of it, I was thinking that way, but as I look back, that was what was happening. And that’s why when I got to be a teenager, I just took a hard turn into worldly living when our family was finally at its best place. And I think the reason I did it was because I was just acting out. I was like, “OK, we’re gonna be bad. That’s what happens. And then you – then you turn good somewhere down the line. I’m gonna take mine and go.” And so, I went into that full prodigal lifestyle for most of my teenage years.
Jim: Yeah, I mean, that’s not unheard of. I mean, that’s a common thing. Uh, it’s a great thing that Phil gave his life to the Lord. But there was some time to make up for.
Jim: Lisa, you had, um, difficulty in your childhood as well and even experienced some abuse. What did that look like? Uh, how did it impact you as a child, a teenager, et cetera?
Lisa: Well, I think, um, my abuse started whenever I was 7, or that’s the earliest memory that I have. And I think at 7, um, I was told that I couldn’t tell anybody. Um, that started me down a road of not being completely honest with anybody.
Jim: So, you started protecting yourself.
Lisa: Right, because I couldn’t tell anybody what was happening to me. Um, so at that point, honesty was – was nowhere to be found. Um, and I think as it carried on, the shame, I thought it was my fault. And I was 7 years old.
Lisa: And so, as I get older, I’m thinking that my purpose is to please men because that’s what I was taught at 7.
Lisa: And it just continued on, even into teenage years. And, you know, I just think that what we go through as kids, you know, it’s not an excuse because I always say, “I’m never going to give you an excuse for the things that I’ve done in my life, the sins that I’ve committed,” but there are always reasons. There are things that make you the way you are. And again, that’s not an excuse. It’s just something that happens. But whenever you become a teenager and you’ve went through those things, you tend to go off the rail.
Jim: Oh, it’s true.
Lisa: And – and you tend to just, you know, throw it all away.
Jim: How did you two meet? Because these – these lives are going to collide and we’re gonna get there. But how – how was that initial meeting? How old were you? What happened?
Al: Well, we were in a little small country school that was out close to where we both grew up. And, uh, I was in the eighth grade. And, you know, we had moved around a lot and moved a lot of different schools. And so, we went to this eighth grade. You know, it was kind of my first time to be a new kid in that middle school era. I was a bit of a Don Juan back in those days and, uh…
Al: …Self-proclaimed. I was a big hit with the 12 people at my little school. And, um…
Jim: (Imitates sizzling sound) You’re hot.
Al: I was hot. I was a Mr. Pinecrest. It’s the only title I’ve ever had. Give me a break. And so, Lisa apparently was stalking me.
Jim: (Laughter) One of your fans.
Al: Yeah, she was one of my big fans. She was a sixth grader. And I admit, I didn’t even know she existed. Uh, but apparently, she noticed me.
Lisa: Well, you know, he’s a new kid at school. And, you know, although I’d never told anybody about the abuse that was happening to me, I thought people knew. I really thought it was happening to everybody.
Jim: That’s a common thought.
Lisa: I didn’t know that it was just me.
Lisa: So, when a new kid comes to school, “This is my knight in shining armor.”
Jim: Hmm. What were you hoping for, in saying that?
Lisa: I was hoping that he could take me away from the abuse and, you know, and take me – you know, not really take me, but just – just the idea of, in my mind, I go to another place with him.
Jim: And you’re in sixth grade.
Lisa: I’m in the sixth grade, yeah.
Al: And we’re thinking – we were 11 and 12 years old.
Al: And of course, this was still going on for Lisa. She was still battling it a couple more years. And so, it was, you know – and of course I never knew any of this. But as we’ve had a chance to look back on our lives, you know, I see that God had put us in that proximity because he knew one day, we would be here. We’d be talking to you guys here in Atlanta…
Jim: Yeah. Isn’t that amazing.
Al: …and we would be writing books together. But at the time, it was just so random and chance-like that we would even cross paths. And of course, you know, I still haven’t even entered my phase yet. That happen the next year, when I got to high school in the ninth grade because you kind of stair step the schools out there. And so – and I never saw Lisa again until I was in the 12th grade and she was in the 10th. And she had changed a lot apparently from the sixth grade to the 10th…
Jim: (Laughter) Oh, so I’m sorry…
John: Did you notice her?
Jim: Yeah, you noticed her at this point.
Al: And I noticed her this time.
Lisa: Yeah. Yeah.
Jim: Kind of changes, doesn’t it?
Al: Exactly. She pulls up – and, see, back in the day – you know, I don’t know how they do it around the suburbs of Atlanta back in the day. But we would drive around the parking lot of McDonald’s, you know, all night long.
Al: Uh, hoping somebody would show up that you hadn’t seen in the last hour. And so, we were doing our – our McDonald’s run, like – like we’re supposed to.
Lisa: That’s right.
Al: And then all of a sudden, here comes Lisa pulling up. And so, my buddy – ’cause I was – I was a lover, not a fighter. I was a little guy back then. And so, I learned early on, you make friends with the biggest guy around. So, my friend was a guy named Bubba.
Al: Which makes sense in the South, right?
Lisa: And the name serves him right.
Al: And he’s, like, 6’5″, 300, you know?
Jim: Perfect friend.
Al: Perfect friend. We – I could just lippy and mouthy at whoever I wanted to, and Bubba would take care of things.
Al: Well, I didn’t know that Bubba and Lisa were cousins.
Al: And so, when Lisa pulled into the parking lot, Bubba goes over to talk to her. And I was like, who is that? I mean, if she had been president, she would have been Babe-raham Lincoln, you know what I’m saying?
Al: Yeah, that’s how good she looked.
Jim: That wasn’t the line you used. OK, good (laughter).
Al: No, no, it wasn’t. I didn’t – I was not that smart back then to use that line. But I went over and stuck my head in the window, and I said, “Well, when are we going out, beautiful?” That was my line.
Lisa: First, you said, “Whoa.” Like…
Jim: I would trust her memory.
Al: By the way, “Whoa” is redneck for, “You filled out.” Uh…
Al: Just so you understand the translation of what I was saying.
Jim: That’s good.
Al: It is Hotlanta in here tonight, isn’t it?
Al: And so, she, uh – so she said, “Well, I’m gonna go out whenever you ask me.” And I didn’t know that she had had this, like, five years of infatuation going back to the knight in shining armor. So, I just thought she was a good-looking girl who, unfortunately, I could take advantage of because that was my mindset during that period of time.
Al: I was right in the middle of a – I was a double secret agent. I was at – I was at church every Sunday. I looked like I had it going on. I sang the songs. I said hello to the right little old ladies at church. Everybody said I was the best kid around. But I wasn’t. The only way I can describe it is that I was like Jesus’ description of dead man’s bones because you look at that grave and it looks so polished on the outside, but inside, it was just rotten. And that’s where I was. And, uh, so I was just faking it. I was living a double life. And unfortunately for Lisa, when she really needed some guidance and someone to be good in her life, instead, she got me.
Jim: Wow. I mean, that’s a realization. That first date, how did it go?
Lisa: Not well.
Jim: So, he wasn’t – he wasn’t – he didn’t meet your expectation?
Lisa: No, you know, I knew him whenever I was in the sixth grade. And he’s still that, you know, young kid from the sixth grade. I didn’t – I didn’t know that he had started drinking, and I didn’t know that he had started smoking pot. And, um, I found that out, though, when I got in the car. And so, um, we went out that night with two of my cousins. He said, “It was a double date.” I’m like, they’re both guys.
Jim: That must be another redneck thing.
Al: It was – I had to have my protection. I have Bubba and his brother, both cousins of Lisa’s.
Jim: It might have been her protection.
Al: It could have been.
Lisa: Well, they failed miserably if it was. Um, yeah, that didn’t turn out very well. We, um, ended up in a strip club. And, uh, they were inside, and I was in the car in the back seat…
Jim: And you were a senior and a sophomore?
Al: Well, the – her cousins were inside. I was passed out in the car. And Lisa was, you know, 15 years old and just sitting in the…
Lisa: Sitting in the car.
Al: …parking lot of a strip club.
Jim: Oh my goodness.
Al: So that was our first date, which you’d think…
John: The first date did not go so well.
Lisa: Oh, it was not good.
Al: Well, you’d think it had nowhere to go but up, right? But no.
Lisa: No, it just got worse every time.
Jim: So, OK, take us through the next part of your relationship. What happens? I mean, how – does it just keep going down? Or did you break up? Or what happened?
Lisa: Well, um, after about the fourth date, I heard the line, um, “If you loved me, you will.” And I loved him. I mean, I had been infatuated with him since I was in the sixth grade. And I said, “I’ll do anything.” And, um, but, you know, here’s the crazy thing, and this is kind of how, you know, young people think. I thought, “I gave myself to him. We’re gonna be together forever.”
Jim: Yeah, you counted on that.
Lisa: Yeah, I mean, this is what you do. And that was not the way it was because we dated for about six months, I guess. And, um, he got in trouble and he left to find himself, um, in…
Al: New Orleans.
Lisa: …New Orleans, Louisiana.
Al: You don’t find yourself there and, uh…
Jim: So, I mean, just to clarify, so you bailed out.
Al: I bailed.
Jim: And you’re left with the pieces.
Lisa: Mm hmm.
Jim: And at that point, what were you doing in New Orleans?
Al: Well, more trouble just with a worse crowd. Uh, I was working at a hospital, and everybody was there were in their 20s. And here I was 17. Everybody thought I was 21. I don’t know why, except that’s what I told them. But, uh…
Al: So, we – so I’m running around, obviously way out of my element. And now drugs and everything is going a part of it, so, uh, I almost died there. I was dating a nurse. She thought I was 21. I thought she was in a – had been separated from her husband for a year. Turns out it was a couple of weeks, which, as Lisa and I now know – we work with couples – that that’s, you know, basically just, you know, “We’re trying to find out stuff here.” And so, he tried to kill me one day and, um, took a crowbar to me. And, you know, I look back on it, and I deserved it. That’s who I was that day.
Al: I was an adulterer and a miserable, miserable person. Uh, so that’s kind of when I came to my point of, “Man, this – I’m at the end here.”
Jim: Yeah, I mean, this is incredible. On the one hand, someone is going to write or call us and say that was far too descriptive, too open. But I so appreciate it because our kids are living that life – more of them now than maybe in your time.
Lisa: Mm hmm. Right.
Al: That’s right.
Jim: Um, but you lived it. And we’re gonna get to the hope that you found in Christ.
Jim: But there’s still more to the story. So, Al leaves you, and you’re still seeking that man who can meet that hole in your heart.
Lisa: That’s right.
Jim: What happened?
Lisa: Um, so I went ahead and started sowing my wild oats because I knew that was what he was doing. Uh, I started dating a guy who was, um, probably about six years older than me. And, um, he could buy alcohol. He knew where to get the drugs. And, but we dated for about nine months. And, uh, I kept getting sick in the morning time, had no idea why. I was – I, you know – I was 16 years old. And, um, so my mom comes in and says, “You might need to get a pregnancy test.” Um, and so I go and have a pregnancy test. And, um, sure enough, I’m pregnant at 16 years old. And so, I go and – you know, I hadn’t really been going to church. So, I really couldn’t, you know, go to our church and say, “Hey, I’m pregnant.” Um, and so I went back and talked to my parents. And you know, what you said at the beginning of this, that that glob of tissue – that that’s gonna be no more? That’s what my mom thought.
Lisa: And that’s what my mom told me. She said, “Lisa, it’s not a baby. It’s just a glob of tissue. All they’re gonna do is go in and take out that glob of tissue.” You see, the only woman I’d ever known who were pregnant either had their babies or, you know, some of them lost them. I’d never known anybody to have an abortion. I didn’t even know what it was.
Lisa: So, I go in. Um, we just decide that that’s – you know, this is what I need to do. Um, I have school, you know? And my mom’s not going to take care of the baby. And, “It’s going to ruin the rest of your life.” And, you know, all these things that the evil one puts in your mind. So, I go in, and I allow someone to take that child from my body at the time thinking that it was a glob of tissue but learning, you know, later that that’s not what it was. But, you know, here’s the thing. I think that deep inside, I knew that it wasn’t a glob of tissue.
Lisa: Because there was shame there, and there was guilt. And if – if you’re not doing anything wrong, there shouldn’t be shame and guilt. So, I knew deep down. It was just one of those things you don’t want to admit what you’re doing. But that day, I was a number. I was not a person. You know, they call your number out. They go back there. And I was afraid.
Lisa: And, um, the lady reassured me and told me three lies that day. And I’m sure that she tells women – or, you know, that women have heard these lies throughout – you know, since abortion’s been going on. One was, “This is just a glob of tissue.” Two was that, “After today, you can leave here, and you’ll be good as new. You know, this is not going to affect you at all. As far as, you know, your body goes, you’ll be fine.” And the third lie was, “You can go and live your life, and you never have to think about this moment again.” Not true.
Jim: Not true.
Lisa: That has been almost – well, I guess right at 37 years. And I dare say that I have thought of that decision that I made every day 37 years.
Jim: Lisa, we’re going to continue with the story. But I – I’m mindful of the fact there are people in this audience, there are people in the listening audience – I mean, we probably have 2, 3 million people listening right now.
Jim: And, um, they’re in that spot.
Jim: They were that teenage girl. They were that 20-something girl.
Jim: You said you couldn’t go to the church. That’s unfortunate.
Lisa: Oh, it is.
Jim: So, thinking back in that moment, what would have helped you the most to make a different decision – allow that baby to be adopted, for example?
Lisa: Well, I think to know the truth would’ve been the biggest thing. If I had known that this was an actual baby, if I had heard that heartbeat…
Jim: Seen the picture.
Lisa: …I think – seeing that baby on that picture, I think that would have changed my mind.
John: We’re going to pause there for today’s episode of Focus on the Family. Uh, there is a lot of great conversation still to come from Al and Lisa Robertson. That’ll be next time and I hope you’ll plan to join us for that. And let me remind you that Focus on the Family is here for you. Uh, we have a team of caring, Christian counselors that can give solid, Biblical direction for your specific situation. And, of course, we have great resources, like Al and Lisa’s book, Desperate Forgiveness. That can help you as you walk that path toward hope and healing. In fact, if you can, please make a monthly pledge to Focus on the Family today, a pledge of any amount, and we’ll send a copy of Desperate Forgiveness as our way of saying thank you for joining the support team. And that monthly contribution allows us to meet the needs of families just like yours. Uh, Dena and I give monthly. Jim and Jean do and so many others. And when we can rely on those pledges to come in, Focus is able to plan and budget for the long term. So, please, join the team today! And if you can’t make a monthly pledge, um, a one-time gift of any amount will suffice. We’ll send that book to you as well. Donate and get Desperate Forgiveness when you call 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY. That’s 800-232-6459. Or online at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.
Also, uh, we’d be happy to tell you more about how you can register to attend one of our ALIVE 2020 events on May 9th. Uh, we’re really looking forward to it and we want you to be there. Well, plan to join us tomorrow for more with Al and Lisa Robertson as once again we help you and your family thrive in Christ.