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Focus on the Family Broadcast

Twice Widowed, Always Blessed (Part 1 of 2)

Twice Widowed, Always Blessed (Part 1 of 2)

Working as a Playboy Bunny, Robyn Dykstra was oblivious to God’s master plan for her life. But she eventually escaped a life of drugs, alcohol, and abuse and married a good Christian man. As she grew closer to the Lord, with a handsome husband, a nice house, and two wonderful children, her life seemed perfect. Then, in an instant, everything changed. That one moment triggered a chain reaction of unwanted challenges, and her life would never be the same. (Part 1 of 2)
Original Air Date: July 27, 2023

John Fuller: Today our guest explains some preconceived notions she had about what it would be like to marry a Christian man.

Robyn Dykstra: And I just knew I did not want to live on a compound with his mama.

Audience: (laughs)

Robyn: I did not want to wear drab colors and ugly shoes.

John: We’ve got a very colorful story today to share with you on Focus on the Family. Thanks for joining us. Your host is Focus president and author Jim Daly, and I’m John Fuller.

Jim Daly: We do, John, and colorful is the right word for our guest, Robyn Dykstra. Robyn is a captivating speaker who travels across the country sharing her story and encouraging others to persevere when life gets difficult. I love these stories, and she has really been through a lot, abuse, betrayal, divorce, widowhood, and so much more.

John: Mm-hmm. Yeah. She really has, and she’s kept a great sense of humor somehow throughout all of that, as you’re gonna hear today and also next time. Let me point out that the story includes some mature themes, so a warning to parents if you have young kids nearby. Uh, use earbuds or listen later via our podcast or our daily app. Hear now Robyn Dykstra speaking to a women’s group on Focus on the Family.

Robyn: So I wanna go beyond inspiration today. I really want to go deeper with you and, and have you leave knowing that you are worthy, and you are loved, and that God is for you, and God is with you, ’cause I didn’t always know that. I did not always know that. I was raised by the nicest pagans you have ever met in your life.

Audience: (laughs)

Robyn: They were such beautiful people. They were moral, and they were responsible, but we were not a spiritual family. We didn’t, um, need God much because my mom and my dad were both very competent people. My mom in particular was a driving force in my life. She is a PhD with her doctorate in educational administration, with an emphasis on affirmative action for women, and so there was nothing that I couldn’t do according to her. But because she was so smart, she, we were pretty healthy. We had al-, enough money, we didn’t really need God. And so, consequently, we just built our own little throne and became our own God. We just didn’t have any calamities that drove us to a higher power. Well, when I graduated from high school, there wasn’t a lot of conversation about whether or not I was going to go to college because when your mom’s a PhD, that’s just non-negotiable.

Audience: (laughs)

Robyn: But where and, um, even though I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up, I didn’t have any aspirations for anything huge, I was recovering from a really miserable breakup with a, a boy that I thought was all that. And, but my mom insisted that I go off to college, and so off to college I went. And I didn’t love it, but I discovered the redeeming thing at college was that they have a smorgasbord dessert table-

Audience: (laughs)

Robyn: … every single day, and I could have dessert appetizer and dessert side dish and dessert for dessert, and I was in heaven with my little dessert table. One night when I was eating whatever dessert it was, second, third, or fourth one, I was at the end of the dining room hours, and the football team came tromping in. And, oh, my stars, what a bunch of noisy, messy, bumping boys these were. And the captains came in first, and then all the minions that are supposed to keep them safe followed along behind. It was an orderly fashion, even though it was noisy. They gab-, grabbed their trays, and they followed the leader to where they were supposed to sit in the dining room table. But somewhere along the middle of that pack, one of those boys caught my eye. And he did a little double take, and then he fell right out of rank, and he came to me like a moth to a flame.

Audience: (laughs)

Robyn: And he put his tray down in front of me, and he said, “You are the most gorgeous thing I have ever seen in my entire life. I must marry you.”

Audience: (laughs)

Robyn: That’s the way I choose to remember that story.

Audience: (laughs)

Robyn: But he was fairly smitten. He thought I was pretty spectacular, and he chased me all over campus. And I decided to spend some time with him, and I really did enjoy his company. He was so great. He was the type of boy who would open the doors for you and take your elbow as you walked, and speak kindly to you and not try to get in your knickers.

Audience: (laughs)

Robyn: He was really top-notch. Nothing like I had ever dated before. And I thought he was peculiar in that behavior, but I really enjoyed it because he made me feel like I was so special, like I was worth being treated like that. And he was, he was a little odd. He didn’t have any of the habits or peculiarities that I did. He didn’t drink. He didn’t smoke. He didn’t swear. He didn’t chase girls around campus. He was, he was just totally appropriate. And then I found out why. It was because he was a Christian, and I thought, “Oh, heavens. Now what do I do with that news?”

Audience: (laughs)

Robyn: ‘Cause I didn’t know any Christians. I had no experience. The only thing I knew about Christians was what you hear in general, you know, and what you see on 20/20 when they bring out the crazies.

Audience: (laughs)

Robyn: And I just knew I did not want to live on a compound with his mama.

Audience: (laughs)

Robyn: I did not want to wear drab colors and ugly shoes. And so therefore I said, “I like you a lot, but we must part company because I just cannot live the life that you are offering me.” And so it was with great regret that he went on his own way, and I went on my way. And at the end of the year, I went home to my mom, and I announced that I was so smart I didn’t need to go back.

Audience: (laughs)

Robyn: And she said, smart as she is, she’s a wise woman as well as educated, and she said to me, “Well, sweetie, I can’t force you to go back to school, but if you aren’t a full-time student, I am no longer supporting you.” And I went, “Ew.

Audience: (laughs)

Robyn: “Did not see that coming.

Audience: (laughs)

Robyn: “I’m gonna have to find a job.” So I looked, and my mom’s so wise she knew I didn’t know how to do anything, and I would be forced to go back to school to learn how to do something important. But I fixed her. I, I found this great job as a teller in a bank. And I, I went there with great expectations, like that I was going to learn how to be a banker and that I would run the bank one day. But they take that whole balancing thing very seriously, and …

Audience: (laughs)

Robyn: Like, every day to the penny, they want you to balance, and I just don’t have that kind of attention to detail.

Audience: (laughs)

Robyn: So by mutual agreement, which is to say they fired me-

Audience: (laughs)

Robyn: … I was on the hunt for another job. And I was looking in the newspapers because at that time they would have thick want ads on Sunday. And I looked and I looked and I looked and I looked. And then finally I found the perfect job for me. It was a big ad on Sunday, and it had a wide black border around it, which you know means money, right? And the ad said, “Playboy Bunnies wanted. No experience necessary.”

Audience: (laughs)

Robyn: So I went to the interview for Playboy Bunnies. The nearest club was 70 miles from us, and I walked into this huge resort, 1,400-acre resort, and got in line with the other hundred so women who were there to apply for that job. The interview process is rigorous. Any other ex-Bunnies in the room?

Audience: (laughs)

Robyn: All right. Well, let me explain how this works, then. You go in front of a woman who’s called the Bunny mother, and she’s in charge of all of the Bunnies. And she, you have to remember your whole name without looking at notes.

Audience: (laughs)

Robyn: You have to, you have to know your whole name. And then you have to turn in a, a full circle wearing three-inch heels and practically nothing else, a swimsuit or a leotard or something like that. If you can navigate the turn on a three-inch heel, she figures that you’re coordinated enough to walk in the uniform. And then she asks you one question, and that question is, “Why in the world would you want to be a Playboy Bunny?” And I immediately had the answer. “I’m smart, I’m pretty, and I know how to make men smile.”

Audience: (laughs)

Robyn: How much more could there be to the job? Well, it turns out that there wasn’t a lot much more to that job. But, and I got it. Uh, the, the woman hired me. And I had only intended to stay for the summer, just to show my mama, ak-, make a little money, and bide some time. But it turns out, girls, that I was really, really good at being a Bunny. And not only was I able to secure some job security there with my particular skillset, I was also included in the recruiting process to teach other girls how to be walking pornography.

While I was there, um, it was a, a culture that is dangerous. There’s just no other way. There’s guns and drugs and crazy people everywhere you go. And while I was there, I’d been there for maybe a year, and one of the more dangerous characters in that city, the little city that I was working in, took a shine to me. And I knew that he was dangerous. His job was to make people say yes to things that they didn’t wanna say yes to. He worked for drug dealers, and he worked for, um, businessmen. And so I knew that it was really dangerous to align myself with him. But I also knew that if I was on his arm, that I would be safe from everyone else.

John: You’re listening to Robyn Dykstra on Focus on the Family, and I’m sure you’re gonna wanna pass this story along to someone you know. It is so compelling. Uh, get the CD of this complete message when you make a donation of any amount to the ministry of Focus on the Family. Our number is 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY. 800-232-6459. Or make that monthly pledge or one-time contribution and request this CD at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. Let’s return now to more from Robyn Dykstra.

Robyn: So when we started dating, it was, it was just a natural succession. (laughs) And he, I didn’t expect him to go the distance with me, but he asked me to marry him. He wanted, he was in. And, uh, he was very persuasive, so I said yes. But it wasn’t very long before my smart mouth ran into his short temper, and he decked me. And when I came up off the floor, we both knew that it was done. But he said he was sorry. And he said it would never happen again. And I believed him because, like a lot of women who get banged around, I thought that I could be strong enough. I could go the distance. I thought that I could love him enough to change him, and I thought that he would want to change. But he didn’t. And when it happened again, I knew that if I stayed, I was going to die, so I called my mom, and I explained the situation, and I said, “What do I do?” And she said, “You come home. Just sneak home.” And she put me into her own private witness protection program. (laughs)

Audience: (laughs)

Robyn: And that is to say, she arranged for me to live with different ones of her friends. Every couple weeks, I could move, and, and that would keep me out of harm’s way because this man did not want to let me go. But after several months, he relinquished. He, he gave me my freedom. And there was such a relief. And you’d think that would make me feel better, but then I felt all this shame come on me, like how could you be so stupid for doing that? And how did you fall for him? And why did you stay so long? And why didn’t you see those signs? And how did you end up here at the beginning anyway? Maybe you fight with those thoughts in your head. How did I end up here? What was I thinking? How can I fix this?

And I was broken. I just was empty. I, my bank account was empty. My self-esteem bank was empty. My trust issues were empty. I was just a mess. And my mom said, “I think you just need to go back to school and just bide your time until you’ve got your back.” But I just couldn’t. I just couldn’t h- … Every day, it was just like, “Oh, another day. Just another day.” And you were just walking through the motions empty inside, smiling on the outside, trying to make somebody else believe that you are happy. And then one day I, I just thought, “I don’t know how long I can do this. I just wanna feel better. I just want to feel better.” And I remembered that hot and hunky football player that I kicked to the curb. We hadn’t stayed in touch. I don’t know if you know this, but good Christian boys, they don’t follow Playboy Bunnies who marry ex-cons.

Audience: (laughs)

Robyn: They just don’t. They draw the line there. You can only go … That grace thing, that’ll only go so far.

Audience: (laughs)

Robyn: There is a tough love, and he demonstrated it. So I thought, “I’m gonna call him and see,” because that was the last time I felt good. That was the last time I felt worthy. That was the last time I felt valuable. And he was surprisingly happy to hear from me. His mother wasn’t.

Audience: (laughs)

Robyn: She thought she’d gotten rid of me, and that was the end of it. But he was still smitten. And we started dating, and one thing led to another. And all of a sudden, he was the one. But this time he had the advantage in that I had asked him back into my life. And so, as a good Christian boy will, he asked me to go to church with him. And I thought, “Okay. Here we go. I’m just gonna … You know, how hard can it be, right?” So I go to church, and I did not sit in the front row. I had sat a couple back, and I would just do whatever the woman in front of me did. She stood up, I stood up. She sat down, I sat down. She clapped, I clapped. If she raised her hand, I watched her.

Audience: (laughs)

Robyn: Well, we were moving along pretty good, and it was pretty clear that we were headed for the altar. But there was an obstacle because I was not a Christian. And his mama wasn’t gonna let that happen. Good Christian boys marry good Christian girls. That whole unequally yoked thing was an obstacle. But one night we went to a Christmas program, and it was one of those traditional, old-fashioned churches where everything is dark paneled wood, and the whole church is lousy with stained-glass windows, and, and there is a choir box, and there are people in robes singing. And, and there is a bunch of chairs back here that look like thrones. And, and the guy in the silver suit, he sits back here, and he supervises what’s going on, right? And then this night, the, the lights were really dim, and all the candles were on, and the choir was singing. And something was happening to me as I sat in the audience. There was this quickening, this uneasiness, this thing that was happening in my middle section. And then my eyes started to leak.

Audience: (laughs)

Robyn: And I thought, “There … What is going on with me?” And I was trembling, and I just did not know what was happening. Well, then the little guy in the silver suit, he gets out of his chair. And he’s just the tiniest little thing, you guys. He’s just so small. He gets up, and he, he comes up to the podium, and you can only see him. It’s like a cartoon. He’s only got a nose above. (laughs) And so he sits up on his … He must’ve stepped up on something, and I could see his whole, his whole body, and he explained what was happening to me. He came up out of that little step that he was sitting on, and he thundered, “Tonight, tonight is the night. If there’s a person in this room who does not know Jesus Christ as their Lord, tonight’s the night you must be saved! And you know who you are.”

Audience: (laughs)

Robyn: It was me.

Audience: (laughs)

Robyn: There was a whole bunch of other people that raised their hand, too, but that night I was saved. And what that meant to me was that I was not going to burn in hell. What that meant to me was that now I had a supernatural bodyguard. What that meant to me was I could still stay on my throne running my life like I wanted to, but there was this God who would just keep an eye on me, and if anything tried to kill me or threaten me, he would just do something bad to them. And so I was saved, girls, but I was not surrendered. I moved over on my own little throne just enough for Jesus to put a cheek on.

And that went very well for everyone for a while. Hot and Hunky’s mama was without excuse. She could not say anything. Hot and Hunky was thrilled that I had been saved. And so we got married the first Saturday after my divorce to the wild man was finalized. Both of our mamas were horrified. His mama came, and she just wanted so much more for her boy. She wanted a woman who would not only love her son, but her God. And who could blame her? So she just mumbled and prayed through the whole thing. “Oh, Jesus, Jesus-

Audience: (laughs)

Robyn: “… Jesus, Jesus.” And my mama, my mama thought I was marrying into a cult.

Audience: (laughs)

Robyn: And when I promised to love, honor, and obey, I thought her head was going to spin off her shoulders-

Audience: (laughs)

Robyn: … into outer space. Well, both parents had good reason to worry because what we had in common, Hot and Hunky and I, was that we were both in love with me. And that will only go so far. You know, I’m in love with me. He’s in love with me. I do what I want. He pretty much does what I want. But that’ll only go so far. But every time we would flare, he would settle us. He would come back, and he’d reset us and start over. And he did that, and he did that, and he did that, and he did that for years.

And after six or seven years, I wanted to do something nice for him, something that I hadn’t done yet, because I just thought, “I don’t think he’s gonna hit me or he would’ve.” I don’t think he’s gonna leave me, or he would have. I think I can trust him. I think I’m safe with him.” And he had wanted to have kids when we got married, and I put the kibosh on that. I thought, “I’m not having some baby so that you can come home and kiss him before me. That’s not gonna work for me at all.”

Audience: (laughs)

Robyn: So no, no, no. But it occurred to me that he might still be interested, and that would be a way to demonstrate that now I was all in. So I asked him at dinner one night, “Do you still wanna reproduce any clones?” And-

Audience: (laughs)

Robyn: … and he said, “Yes, I would like 11 boys.” And I said, “No, you cannot have your own football team. No.” But we went into reproductive mode, and we hatched the most glorious human ever.

Audience: (laughs)

Robyn: And God used that child to start making progress in my life with him.

John: Robyn Dykstra on Focus on the Family. And, uh, we’re gonna continue her fascinating story next time.

Jim: We will, John. And we’ll hear how Robyn’s deeper walk with the Lord prepared her to withstand two major tragedies in just a few years’ time. Uh, you won’t wanna miss how she went through that and came out the other side.

John: Mm-hmm. And if you can’t join us next time, uh, request the CD of Robyn’s complete presentation. It’ll include today and next time. Our number is 800-A-FAMILY. 800-232-6459. Or you can request that online at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast, and we’d be happy to send that to you, uh, when you make a donation of any amount to the ministry to support the great work that we’re doing here at Focus on the Family.

Jim: We’re here to help families thrive in Christ. I hope people know that. And we do need your support to continue in that important work together. Your donations make it possible for us to have our team of caring Christian counselors available to help people like Robyn, who are desperate for help and have nowhere to, uh, turn to. That’s a free service that we together provide, thanks to the donations we receive from friends like you.

Here’s a good example. We received this note from Jessica. She said, “My husband and I were going through a rough patch four years ago, and then we found out I was pregnant with our third child. The timing was very stressful for us. We argued over everything. I spoke to one of your counselors, and he provided a lot of great insights. Now, four years later, we still follow the principles that the counselor gave us for resolving conflict, and our marriage and family is stronger than ever. Thanks, Focus.”

John: Aw. This is wonderful to hear, Jim, and I often say that, um, you know, we see this divine intersection, and people, uh, engage with the content and get changed. They see changes. And that, that letter right there represents thousands of people who reach out to Focus on the Family. And, in fact, our counselors, uh, hear from over 2,000 hurting people each and every month. And they’re really on the front lines, uh, reaching these families and helping them as they’re in trouble.

Jim: Well, I’m very proud of the counseling team, and they would ask me to add one more thought. Uh, if you are in an abusive situation, please seek help. Get to a place of safety, keep it a secret, and reach out for counseling. Don’t suffer in silence hoping things will just get better. Sadly, the odds are that things will get worse.

John: Yeah. Our number is 800-A-FAMILY. Just call if you need help.

Jim: And if things are going well for you right now, can I ask you to consider if Focus on the Family’s played a part in that? Have we helped you in your marriage, in your parenting journey, or in your walk with the Lord? I hope so. And if so, we’d love to hear from you. Please, give us a call and make our day. And if you can donate so that we can together help even more families like yours, that would be deeply appreciated.

John: Yeah. Our team loves to hear stories, and we’d enjoy hearing yours. Our number is 800-A-FAMILY. That’s 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY. And if you’d like ongoing encouragement for your marriage, let me recommend a new podcast we have. It’s Crazy Little Thing Called Marriage, featuring Greg and Erin Smalley, which is a combination of, uh, real-life stories and very practical application, uh, to strengthen your marriage. My wife Dena and I have enjoyed listening to it. I think you will as well. We’ve got a link on our website. Next time we’re gonna hear more from Robyn Dykstra.

Robyn: Well, that night at dinner, I say to Hot and Hunky, “Guess what I did today?” But he said, “What did you do?” And I said, “I signed up for a class to learn about God at your church.” This man should have played poker for a living because he just said, “Isn’t that wonderful?” when, on the inside, you know he was going, “Hallelujah! Hallelujah!”

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