By Sarah Kupelian
WEST MONROE, Louisiana. – "I never know, sometimes I can talk about it and it doesn’t affect me,” said a tearful Lisa Robertson, wife of Alan Robertson, eldest brother in the world-famous "Duck Dynasty" Robertson family.
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At the Duck Commander headquarters, the couple sat down with radio host Dianne Linderman around a long, dark, wooden table. The room, adorned with rustic furniture as well as an incredibly comfortable Duck Commander camouflaged recliner, also sported a picture of the bearded Robertson men looking down, as well as a skull and antlers watching from its mount by the door, adorned with a red, white and blue bandanna, strikingly similar to Willie Robertson’s favorite headgear.
There, Alan and Lisa Robertson poured out their life stories and revealed the heart and soul of their gut-wrenching but inspiring new book, "A New Season: A Robertson Family Love Story of Brokenness and Redemption," which launched nationally today.
"Sometimes I cry," admitted Alan, as his wife struggled with her emotion.
"You're going to make me cry in a minute," replied Linderman, host of the nationally syndicated Talk Radio Network show, "Everything That Matters."
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"Our relationship started badly because of me – I mean it was my fault," Alan confessed. "Lisa was a good girl and I just took her down the wrong path. Then I dumped her and took off to New Orleans, because I was trying to find myself."
But all Alan found was trouble. "In the Big Easy, it wasn't so easy for me. I just broke her heart and left her here and she just kinda went into a tailspin from that point. I finally got into so much trouble down there that I almost got killed – by a jealous husband. And so I finally came to that point of realization that if I continued like that, I would never live to see 19 years old – I was only 18."
Alan says he turned to God upon his return home, "really for the first time."
Alan and Lisa have not appeared much on the family's phenomenally popular show until recently, as they did not want to take the time away from their ministry, where they have become highly successful marriage counselors.
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"We had a lot of struggles throughout our marriage," said Lisa with brutal honesty about her past. "When I was younger I was molested by an uncle. And so I really feel like that set me on a dishonesty course of who I was and what I was about."
Emotion suddenly covered the beautiful woman's face. Gently, Linderman said, "This is hard for you to talk about – still."
The tears began to flow as Lisa admitted softly, "Yeah."
"I appreciate you sharing with us," Linderman said, and then turning to Alan, "I mean it's definitely still close to her."
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"It's the core of our story," responded Alan, watching the pain on his wife's face.
Linderman commented, "I love this because now people can go read this book …"
And with resolve, Alan finished the sentence, "… and learn how to not let it rule you."
Other than sexual abuse, Lisa said she "had not had an experience with a guy until him [Alan]. So I truly lost my virginity with him at 15 years old. But whenever he left – and I really don't ever want to blame him for anything – but whenever he left it was a rejection."
"More trauma," noted Linderman.
"Right," said Lisa. "I took that rejection to be that I was not good enough. And so, for the next two years, I did as much as I could to prove to myself that I was good enough. And it didn't matter what that included. If that included sleeping with as many people as I could, [getting] drunk, it didn't matter, all of it."
When Alan finally came back to Lisa, she recalls, "I hate to say that he was 'my savior,' but he really did save me in the way that he kinda rescued me out of that thinking. But even then, Satan still had a hold on me, because I had not ever turned that over to [God]. I thought that I just wanted to hold on to it."
"I still just never really got it until I was about 33 and I'd been in a relationship with another man for 14 months, still married to Alan. And we went through that trauma. Alan found out – which was good. That was a good thing."
"Especially if he really loves you," Linderman commented.
"It didn't feel good at the time," Lisa continued. "But you know, I kept asking God for an open door, 'Just open a door for me to go through. I want out of this relationship, but I don't know how to get out of it, so open a door.' And God kept opening doors, but they weren't the doors I wanted to go through."
Although she wanted to extricate herself from the extramarital affair without anyone knowing, "[God] had other plans," said Lisa. "I think, too, that He knew that if I got out of it without anybody knowing, that eventually it would come back and I would do it again."
But once Alan found out, she said, and the troubled couple went through counseling and were also helped by friends and family, their life together started to take a turn for the better.
"I really came to know who Christ was, and then I was able to give Him all of [my troubles]. Because at first, I was not able to do that, and that was 15 years ago. So the first half of our relationship, since we're celebrating 30, the first half was rough."
Mentioning that they also had suffered a miscarriage, gone through times of no money when they had to rely on food stamps, and so on, Lisa commented, "we really have been through a lot of the same things that all of the people around the world have been through. But God was our rescue, he was the one that pulled us out of the pigs' pen and set us on new ground, and said, 'This is what I have in store for you.'"
She added, "Had we not went through all we went through, how could we help anybody with their problems? And so saying all that, if I knew that I would be where I am today, I'd do it all over again – go through everything that we went through all over again – just to get to this point that we're at today, together as a couple."
"We want God to get the glory," added Alan, "not us."
Impressed by their beautiful story of forgiveness, Linderman shared with Alan and Lisa that she has mentored troubled teenagers for over 30 years. "People say, 'Dianne, how do you help all these kids?' And I say, '… by teaching them and showing them how they can forgive the wrongdoers.'"
"That's right," Lisa agreed.
"Then they can be forgiven," said Linderman.
"Right," chimed Alan, who served as pastor at the family's church for many years.
"Because most of these kids that I've come across," added Linderman, "they've all been molested, they've all had horrible lives. Some of them have come from homes that are too good and been spoiled rotten beyond belief, and that's a trauma."
"Yeah," replied Alan.
"And so everybody's got their thing," noted Linderman. "But what you both are talking about is real forgiveness."
Alan agreed wholeheartedly. "It is. And you're right. What really made the difference for us is that obviously we couldn't move forward in our relationship of forgiveness until Lisa could embrace forgiveness from God, and then even give that to the one who had harmed her so much as a child."
Toward the end of their discussion, Linderman dove deep: "I was going to ask you this question, and I bet you can answer it better than most people: What is Christianity to you?"
"… There's a lot of hypocrisy in religion," she continued.
"Sure, absolutely," Alan agreed.
"You guys definitely are not hypocritical and it shows. So, what is real true Christianity to you?"
"Well, for me," Alan replied, "it's – if I could just coin one word – it would be 'surrender.'"
He explained, first noting that after growing up in a decidedly unchristian home, his parents eventually embraced the faith "and it was wonderful. … Everything was together and dad was just on fire. We had a great church – which is still our church by the way."
"But then," said Alan, "something in me yearned to want something else.
"What was that?! All of a sudden I'm being driven to pursue a life that I know is not healthy. I saw it, I watched my dad do it, and yet I'm so driven to do it. But I realized I was searching for something because I hadn't really surrendered myself fully to who Christ is. He was not my Lord – I mean, that's what I had to make him. And so, when I came back home, before I called Lisa, I went through a surrender process, but only when I realized, 'You know what? If I don't surrender, I will die.'"
For some people, added Alan, "it takes that. Other people just get it; they just say, 'you know what, I don't want to live like that.' But for me, I was one of those kinds of people, I had to get to the edge of what it would look like without a surrendered life, and then I realized it. I was only 18 years old."
In awe, Linderman replied, "That's amazing!"
"So 'surrender,' I think, would be my word for true Christianity," said Alan. "And when you do that, and you really give it to him, He can do great things."
"God rescued us," Lisa shared, "so our kids did not have to go through the painful divorce that a lot of kids have to go through."
Lisa added, "Not only that, when we look at our grandkids now … what we think about is, our oldest daughter is really who it affected the worst. If she had not decided to marry, if we had divorced and this just totally messed her up for marriage, for men, for everything … just think of four little babies that I wouldn't have."
In their counseling ministry, said Lisa, "We always want to push the big picture. 'Look, you're just seeing in your pain right now, you can't see any farther, but ask God to help you see that bigger picture of what your life could be like in five years, in seven years, in 10 years – you know, with your husband and not split up.' I think about it all the time, we live with one of our daughters and her three kids and her husband, and we do that on purpose. We love it."
"Yeah, it's awesome," added Alan.
Reflecting further on their joy of weathering the storms and staying together, Lisa said: "You know, what we think about is, what if Alan was living with my daughter and her three kids and her husband – and another woman?
"And it's not me? I mean, it is our greatest joy to walk in the door, for those kids to run up to the door and they're just so excited that we're there. But I'm just saying, what if – what if we hadn't stayed together? Then I would have been in another house with my [new] husband and they would have had to come to visit …"
"We've told that story so many times," said Alan, "cause you know, they're feeling so betrayed, so hurt, angry, so ready to move on. And we try to give them a picture of "what ifs." Maybe it's worth fighting for, more than you know. Maybe once you're past the hurt of the moment, a year from now you'll feel differently."
Lisa added, "We say fight for your grandkids that you don't even have yet."
Lisa explained also that, contrary to popular belief, neither she nor her husband were raised in a Christian home. "And so for people to watch the show and say, 'Oh, they've just got it made. I mean, look at the good Christian family, everybody's just …"
"If life were like that …" Alan interrupted.
"… Who wouldn't be successful?," said Lisa, finishing his sentence.
"Yeah, why wouldn't we just sit around and eat catfish all day?!" Alan said with a laugh.
The conversation went on for hours.
At one point, Linderman exclaimed, "This is so personal to share with people. It's amazing because most people would never admit it!"
Indeed, Lisa agreed, "People don't want to air their dirty laundry, 'Oh people won't respect me if they know that about me,' but it's just the opposite.
"If people know what Christ has done in your life, they respect you even more. We have people at our church who know our past, they know exactly where we've been, but they want us to do their premarital counseling. If something happens, they come to us."
Lisa looked at Linderman with her piercing, sincere eyes and told why, exactly, it is that she and her husband have become such successful marriage counselors: "It's because we've been there. We know exactly where they are."
Linderman smiled in agreement, "And you know you can turn that corner and live happily ever after."
In a sudden change of topic, Linderman turned to Alan and sprung the question, "Well, when are you going to become a politician?"
"Oh, I don't know, I've been asked a few times," he replied.
Lisa smiled: "He's too good to be a politician."
The room broke out in laughter. And then in unison, Alan and Linderman responded, "That's what we need!"
"We need some good ones, I know," Alan reiterated.
So, what about Alan "and Willie and all your brothers?" pressed Linderman.
"Willie actually has the love for politics," confided Alan.
Chuckling, Linderman replied, "He needs to shave his beard."
The laughter continued as Alan agreed, "If he looks like that, he may never make it."
Then on a more serious note, Linderman questioned, "I don't know, I thought if he or Phil could get up there" in the world of politics – "you know, they're so real that way. … Why wreck that, right?"
"Right," said Alan, adding, "I'm probably the more diplomatic of the group."
"You look very politician-ish," Linderman commented as Lisa chuckled.
Alan smiled, "We'll see what the new season turns up."
Read previous article: "Meet queen of 'Duck Dynasty."
Sarah Kupelian is producer of Talk Radio Network's nationally syndicated weekly show "Everything That Matters," hosted by Dianne Linderman and broadcast live Sundays from 12 p.m.-2 p.m. Pacific. She is also a contributor to WND and is an owner-partner of the Great American Entertainment Company LLC.