Lisa Robertson: Well, I think to know the truth would’ve been the biggest thing. Um, I thought it was a glob of tissue. If I had known that this was an actual baby, if I had heard that heartbeat…
Jim Daly: Seen the picture.
Lisa: …I think – seeing that baby on that picture, I think that would have changed my mind.
End of Excerpt
John Fuller: Hmm, well, speaking about terminating her pregnancy when she was a teen. That’s Lisa Robertson. This is Focus on the Family. I’m John Fuller and your host is Focus president and author, Jim Daly. Today Lisa and her husband Al are back with us to share more of their remarkable story.
Jim: Well, we met up with Al and Lisa in Atlanta, Georgia on our whirlwind adventure to share five pro-life messages in five cities in five days. It was exhausting, but it was so encouraging to see the crowds – their support. It was worth it.. And our audiences were riveted by the stories that were shared, and they were all so excited to stand with us for the dignity and value of human life. And you likely know Al and Lisa Robertson from A&E’s Duck Dynasty. They’re part of the Robertson family, obviously. And, uh, they’ve been here on our program a couple times before. On our last episode with Al and Lisa, we shared some of their family childhood stories – very tough. How they met and dated…and struggled. Lisa openly talked about getting pregnant as a teen by another man and having an abortion. If you missed the program yesterday, head to our website or get our app to listen to that portion of the program.
John: And you can do that and find out more about ALIVE 2020 which is our big event coming up on May 9th. We’ll be in five cities – a simulcast. And it’s going to be like Alive from New York was last year. It’s going to have a live ultrasound on the big screens to show the baby in the womb. And, uh, you’ll be able to register for those events and find out more at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. And we’re going to start with a quick re-cap on today’s episode of Focus on the Family.
Jim: 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 Robertson: 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. 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. 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 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: 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. And I think as it carried on, the shame, I thought it was my fault. And I was 7 years old.
Lisa: 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.
Al: 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. 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: 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 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.
Lisa: 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 went back and talked to my parents. 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.” So, I go in and I allow someone to take that child from my body.
Jim: Hmm. Al, let me come back to you. The, um, partying in New Orleans – you hear about Lisa’s situation. And this is a turning point, in my opinion, as I read your story in Desperate Forgiveness.
Jim: Why did that impact you? A lot of guys would say, unfortunately, “That’s too bad.” But that wasn’t the only emotion you had.
Al: No. Whenever I, uh, was sitting on that city street in Kenner outside New Orleans, um, you know, the Lord and I had a serious discussion. And I was able to see my own life. Finally. Clearly. And so, uh, God was telling me a police officer who – I don’t know who he is. I can’t wait to meet him in heaven. Thank you, police officers, for guiding…
Al: …young people that need help. I appreciate all they do.
Jim: Yeah. Give ’em a hand. That’s right.
Jim: Because what – what did he do for you?
Al: He told me – he said – he saw the vulnerability. And instead of just, you know, heaping on like all the other people were doing around there and saying, “You’re an idiot.” All that – All that was true. He said, “You need to go home.” And he meant to West Monroe, but he also meant home home. And he prayed with me. And, uh…
Al: I’ll never forget that. And I just – you know, tears were flowing. And, uh, I just thought, “What an opportunity.” He saw an 18-year-old kid that was just at the end of the rope, and he said – he gave me a guidepost. And I took it. And when I got back home, mom and dad met me in the yard. And it was just like Luke 15 all over again. You know? They extended grace. They didn’t give me a speech. They didn’t a give me a – dad said, “We got duck calls to build.” And that night – that was his speech. And that night, we killed the fattened catfish because the lost son had come home, right?
Al: Just like Luke 15. And…
Jim: The fattened catfish – I love it.
Al: And, uh, so, you know, I – I, at first, decided, I thought you know, women are bad for me because – and it’s me, not them. And so, I was just going to try to go it – you know, the Apostle Paul and Jesus, and just walk it solo. So that lasted two months. And, um…
Jim: That’s an honest statement.
Al: It wasn’t my gift. And, uh…
Al: But – But I thought about – I thought about Lisa. You know, it’s just like she appeared in my mind. And I had heard about what had happened. I had heard about her life. And I took a lot of that blame because I knew, when I met her, she was good girl. When I left her – not so good. And I knew I helped start her on that path. So, the evil one had used me, and that made me really upset. And so, I called her. And, uh, she was dating some guy, and he said he was going to marry her. She was about to graduate high school. And, uh, so I said, “Well, you want to go out Friday?” And she said, “Sure.” And she dropped that guy like a hot rock, you know? And, uh…
Jim: Oh, I say that again. You’re proud of that.
Al: She dropped a guy like a hot rock. That’s right.
Al: And, uh – And so our first date was just this amazing – I went to her house and picked her up and did things properly. Her parents didn’t think much of me. Nor should they have. And that first night was just us talking about our lives. And – and she shared almost everything with me that first night. I don’t know that you told me about the abuse, but she told me almost everything else, including the abortion. And it was just like we just bonded in brokenness, you know? And I had come to a realization a little quicker than her that Christ was the way out. And I told her that I had changed my life. I said, “Look. I would love to date you. I don’t want – I’ve quit drinking. I’m not doing drugs. And I don’t want to have sex before I get married.” And she was like, “Well, I’m on board with that. That sounds great.” And, uh, so we began dating. And so, it got real serious real fast. My biology was trying to take over my theology.
Al: Uh, which happens a lot of times with young people. And so, we made a decision that we wanted to get married, and we wanted to begin a life together. And we did..
Jim: So, let’s move it forward, though. Uh, you get married – good thing. And then a few months later, you’re pregnant. Is that right, Lisa?
Lisa: Mmm hmm. Yeah.
Jim: What were those emotions like? Your knight in shining armor – I mean, all this stuff – it’s – now is it falling into place, or do you have worries?
Lisa: Well, no. You know, at first, I thought – when we first got married, I thought, “This is going to be perfect because doesn’t matter about all the rest the stuff that – that has happened to us. We’re together now. That’s all that matters.” Um, you know, all the baggage that we had, uh, we just put that up underneath the bed and in the closet and on top of the shelf in the closet, and, you know, just wherever. But, um, you know, we – I really thought that this was going to be the best thing since sliced bread. But, um – and it was for a little while, you know, until the newness wears off. It’s always the best thing right at first.
Jim: Oh, sure.
Lisa: And so, then I – I get pregnant, and we’re excited about that. Um, I was, uh, 20 when I had my baby. So that made – made at that made Alan 21. But she was a preemie baby. And, uh, she weighed a pound and 15 ounces. And she was…
Al: About 12 inches long.
Lisa: …Twelve inches long. And at a month old, she had to have heart surgery because she had a heart murmur. And so, um, what I really thought during this time was that this is my payback. This is what’s happening. You know, God’s punishing me…
Lisa: …For what I did when I was 16. And, um anyway, Anna did great. She was in the hospital for 3 1/2 months but came home on Father’s Day 1986. And she was just perfect. She was really never sick again after that, you know, just…
Lisa: It really is amazing. Um, so then when I’m 21 I get pregnant again, and, um, I have my daughter Alex. But whenever I was about – I don’t know…
Al: Six months.
Lisa: …Probably about six months into the pregnancy, um, I started having problems with her, too. And so, I thought, “Here it goes again. God’s punished me again because, you know, I’ve killed a child whenever I was 16. This is just my punishment.” But I carried her to term. She was fine. Got pregnant again in 1988. Um, I was 22.
Lisa: I miscarried that baby. And you know, finally, I just said, “OK. It’s time to stop,” because I thought, “If God’s gonna keep punishing me with all these pregnancies, I don’t want my babies to suffer.”
Jim: Yeah. Al, can I ask a question? You’re a pastor. That connection – some would say, “Well, that’s consequence.”
Jim: Some might say that.
Jim: How do you think theologically we should, as healthy Christians, uh, measure that and live through those circumstances when you’ve done something that is against God’s wishes, and then there are circumstances that seem punitive?
Jim: What’s a more godly way to look at this?
Al: Well, I think – and sometimes women do have problems from abortion that do affect them physically on future pregnancies. Uh, so, you know, you’ve got that dealing there as well. But I think we can look at it, it’s which lens you look through. If you look through a spiritual lens, you realize that God created us because he loves us. And he created us to have an eternal relationship with him. And so, no matter what has been done on planet earth, when we repent and we look to him and say, “We want to accept your forgiveness and your love,” we have an eternal relationship with him from that point forward.
And so, I think as things happen to us, of course, we may relate them to some decision or some other thing. But in the – in the eternal sense of how God operates, he only leads us in love. That’s all he’s ever wanted, is to love us. And so, what Lisa’s thinking at that time was out of our own guilt and shame. What she didn’t realize was that if she would be able to give that guilt and shame to him, he would be able to comfort her in ways she’d just never even imagined. And she wasn’t feeling that comfort at all…
Al: …Because she hadn’t given that to him.
Jim: And it’s kind of like – it’s almost like we’re boxed in our own thinking…
Al: That’s right.
Jim: …Because, on the one side, we want to believe in unconditional love.
Jim: But then we beat ourselves up that there’s conditional forgiveness.
Al: That’s right. And so that’s how we – we put back towards God our human feeling of what this feels like to me. And God only comes back and says, “If you’ll just lay that down. If you’ll put that at the foot of the cross of Jesus Christ, I can remove all that” – which Lisa finally did. It took her a few more years to get to that point. When she did, she sees it totally different now, which is why she can talk to audiences about how Christ has removed the guilt and shame.
Jim: Well, that is the truth. Lisa, in that regard, when you’re trying to struggle through forgiving yourself and you can’t because you’ve done something so terrible that you don’t see how God can forgive you, what are those things that a woman can do today? She did have an abortion 10, 15, 20 years ago, two weeks ago. What can she think through to say, “OK, Lord, I heard this program. I heard Lisa today. Please help me.” What can she do?
Lisa: Well, I think the first thing that we have to realize is that God made us. God is the one that put the child within our body, and God should be the only one to take that. But at the same time, he loves us unconditionally. And he never wants us to feel as though, um, something that we’ve done is going to be a retroactive, you know? Like, oh, he’s going back to this, and he’s going to punish me because I did this. Um, the first thing that I would tell somebody to do is to just realize that God loves you beyond anything you can ever ask or imagine.
Lisa: Um, the second thing is, um, whenever he sent his son to the cross, he sent his son to the cross for every sin. Not just one small, little white lie. Not just somebody stole something. He sent his son to the cross for women who have had abortions. He sent his son to the cross for men who have messed with other men’s wives. He sent his son to the cross for every despicable sin that we can think of.
Lisa: 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…
Jim: Mm-hm. Right.
Lisa: Because he was sinless, and he was sent to the cross. His blood is enough to cover our sin.
Jim: Well, you have said it well.
Al: And we say that in the book. The only way you’re ever, ever able to forgive yourself is to fully embrace the forgiveness of God. That’s what gives you the capacity. Because we’re harder on ourselves, most of the time, than anyone. But God says, “I love you that much.” So, if I’m able to embrace his forgiveness, I can – I can even look into my own life and say, “That’s gone. You took it. It’s over. We’re not going to be bound by that anymore.”
Al: That’s what happened with us.
Jim: Now, I so appreciate that boldness and – and that punch that you had in Desperate Forgiveness.
Um, you mention the five-way forgiveness. And I’ll just read them quickly because we’re at the end.
Jim: Forgiveness from God, forgiveness from one – the one who offended you, forgiveness from the family of God, the church – and let me ask you to comment there.
Al: Oh, wow. Sometimes that’s the hardest one – is because the place we need and want to go becomes, sometimes, a deterrent. When Lisa came forward at our church and wrote a letter that she had been involved in an affair, which is another part of our story, and was just finally so shattered and broken, you’ll never know what that did for me because I knew then that she had stepped over sometimes the biggest obstacle, and that was to go to the people of God and say, “I’m a wreck, and I need help.” She was a hero that day. And at the time, I didn’t see it. But later, I look back and say, “That’s what we have to have inside the church, is people being willing to tell and let other people know about the victories of God.”
Jim: The last two are forgiveness extended to the one who offended you and, finally, forgiveness extended to yourself.
Jim: Those are the five key things to forgiveness. Let me transition just at the end to the New York event, which we held last year. Both of you were there. Thank you for coming. What were your observations of what you saw?
Al: Well, you know, like you described beautifully earlier here to this crowd, uh, you know, it was a little frightening and intimidating at first because you come in, it’s in Times Square. But, you know, when we got inside the rope, so to speak, of, you know, the people that were there – and people were singing and praising God. And then people you mentioned were speaking, and just right to my heart, too. It was inspiring. I mean, Lisa and I were in tears. We – we were so glad we were there and so glad that, uh, Focus stepped out and, you know, took the lead. It was awesome.
Jim: Well, I hope you can join us, uh, May 9th coming up.
Al: Oh, absolutely.
Lisa: We would love to.
Al: We’re going to our nearest town.
Jim: In one of those five cities – and, uh…
Lisa: Yeah, we…
Jim: And, uh, if you could be with us, we’d love to have you with us.
Lisa: We brought our granddaughter, um…
Jim: Aw, I remember.
Lisa: …To New York.
Al: She was with us, yeah.
Lisa: And I think that’s important for us. We’ve got to talk to our grandchildren, those of us who have ’em. And we’ve got to let them know that our love for them is unconditional also. If you get pregnant, it doesn’t matter. I’m still going to love you as much as I did before you told me that.
Al: And our 13-year-old granddaughter needed to hear that heartbeat.
Lisa: That’s right.
Al: You know, she needed to know.
Jim: It’s one of the best things a young lady can hear.
Al: That’s exactly right.
Jim: That’s for sure.
Al: We encourage it, for sure.
Jim: Al, um, one of the things I’ve never found is a testimony like this. And it’s setting up for the last question about the pro-life movement being pro-love. I’ve never heard a person give me a testimony where it goes like this. “Those Christians were so harsh toward me, they were so mean toward me, I decided to become one of them.”
Jim: It’s just not a testimony that you hear.
Al: That’s right (laughter).
Jim: I haven’t yet.
Al: (Laughter) Right.
Jim: What I hear is, “I was so vile toward these Christians, and they responded in such kindness. It confounded me.”
Jim: “And that’s what led me to Christ.” Speak about that idea that the pro-life movement needs to be pro-love.
Al: You know, we say that often – is that pregnancy centers, which is who we primarily work with – but other organizations as well – are really putting pro-life – you know, pro-love into the pro-life movement. But really, what it is, is, we’re presenting instead of the Pharisee of the Gospels, which is exactly what you describe – we’re presenting Christ. And that is, hurl your insults. Heap on your criticism, but we’re going to love you anyway.
Al: And that’s what I see over and over and over again. And we dropped our signs because we were big protesters 30 or 40 years ago. And look. I did it too in conscience. I thought I was doing the right thing. I dropped my sign and I started going over and talking to young women and young men that are in trouble. And so, when they can walk in your doors… These places are a frontline ministry. A lot of these people never enter my church, but they’re going to walk into that pregnancy center, so a counselor there or someone there is gonna be able to show in Christ and not the Pharisees.
Jim: Wow. Al and Lisa, you have been so vulnerable tonight, and I love the way God has woven your story together – that little girl’s sixth-grade heart…
Lisa: Mmm hmm.
Jim: You’ve found your knight in shining armor.
Lisa: I did.
Jim: And Al…
Al: And he’s still here.
Jim: Al, it just took you a few years to figure it out.
Jim: So, let’s give him a hand, Atlanta.
Al: Thank you.
John: Well, our time in Atlanta, Georgia with Al and Lisa Robertson was so great. It was electrifying! And we loved taking Focus on the Family on the road to share these really strong pro-life messages with our audiences.
Jim: We did. And we won’t forget it soon, John. I mean those five cities…that meant a lot to just touch base with the folks in those five cities and we’re looking forward to that May 9th event coming up – ALIVE 2020. Uh, John’s mentioned it before, but it… go to the website, get more details. Southern California, Dallas, Atlanta, the Miami/Ft. Lauderdale area, and also up in Chicago. So be a part of it. Come out and speak for those who can’t speak for themselves.
John: Mm-hm. Yeah, we had some really uh, wonderful times interacting with the audiences afterwards, Jim. It was a terrific time to be able to kind of have face-to-face with our listeners.
Jim: Well, this is what’s so powerful about what we all do together – those that support the ministry, and even that night after Al & Lisa Spoke. We were in the lobby saying hello to the folks. And there Lisa was, talking to a woman who was in tears. And healing happened that very night! I’m sure she was contemplating an abortion. I don’t know all of the discussion that took place there. But there was powerful ministry going on.
Jim: And that was kind of the in-person expression of what goes on with the broadcast every day.
John: It was. It was really terrific. And uh, you know you mentioned May 9th. Let me just encourage you to go to the website and find out more and register to attend one of these five events on May 9th.
Jim: And let me kind of spell it out for you: We’re gonna have amazing speakers, a recording artist, and of course that live 4D ultrasound of a 3rd trimester baby so you can hear the heartbeat. See the baby in the womb. It’s phenomenal. We did this in Times Square last year, as you mentioned, John. It was incredible! I mean that moment when the crowd just went silent and the heartbeat came up, even the protesters who were expressing a lot of hate toward Focus on the Family stopped and looked, and I think for the first time many of them, seeing that baby and hearing that heartbeat…I mean it was amazing.
John: It was a powerful expression of the value and the wonder of life!
Jim: Yeah. Let me bring it back to Al and Lisa’s story. If they touched your heart because you’re dealing with struggles, and maybe the memories and emotions have resurfaced for you, Focus on the Family is here for you. We have caring Christian counselors who would count it a privilege to talk with you. I don’t want to blow by that, if you just listened to them pour out their heart and it’s connected with you, um, get in touch with us. We want to help you.
John: We do. They’ll be able to schedule a time for a consultation and then direct you to somebody in your area, and other valuable resources
Now one thing we do have that I think will be of interest to all of our listeners is the really great book by Al and Lisa’ called Desperate Forgiveness, which chronicles their journey to forgiveness. And uh, we want you to have that book. Make a donation of any amount. Uh, a monthly pledge, if you can, to support our Option Ultrasound program, and we’ll send that book to you.
And of course, Jim, Option Ultrasound has been what – 15 years now that we’ve been…
Jim: 15 years. And get this everybody. You ready? 459,000 babies have been saved through that program.
John: It is incredible!
Jim: So, that’s a big “Wahoo!” (chuckling)
John: That is! That’s awesome.
Jim: And I really appreciate your support of that program. We’re saving babies. It’s $60 to save a baby’s life, so let’s do it!
John: And we want you to be able to make that gift. It’s really easy. Call us. Our number is 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY. 800-232-6459. Or online you can donate and get resources and find a counselor in your area at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.
Well plan to join us again, tomorrow, as we hear from Pastor Levi Lusko about some really profound ways to improve your marriage.
Levi Lusko: If Jesus isn’t in your home, it’s not because he doesn’t want to be there. It’s because perhaps you didn’t invite him in. Every bride and groom have the choice to invite Jesus into their wedding, invite him into the marriage. He’ll come into your home if you invite him.