Since the breaking news of the Ashley Madison hack, FB posts and blog articles have exploded re: Josh Duggar’s infidelity and opinions on what Anna Duggar will do, should do, etc. Many feel that Anna’s family and religious circle will encourage her to over-look his infidelity and stay with Josh. Online, there’s a strong plea from women and men who are encouraging Anna to leave Josh and never look back. No matter what she does, she won’t please everyone. And that’s exactly why I want to sit down with Anna to have coffee.
Did you know that Anna just had a baby? The couple’s 4th child? They welcomed a baby girl on July 19th, 2015. Can you even imagine finding out that your husband has been unfaithful one month after giving birth? The following would be hard enough: recovery of birth + postpartum emotions + sleep deprivation + taking care of 3 older children and a newborn. Now add to all of this finding out that your husband paid money to be unfaithful. Anna, in addition to having coffee with you, I want to clean your house/make you meals/help take care of your older children so you can just focus on the baby + rest. I hope someone is doing that for you right now.
Anna: I want to have coffee with you. And my goal is to do one thing: listen. I mean truly listen. The kind of listening that doesn’t come naturally to most of us. To be quiet and help you block out all the voices and focus on one: your own. I want your voice to dominate the conversation. I want you to feel free to be mad, laugh and cry all in one sitting. I won’t be able to refrain from giving you a hug. A whole bunch of them.
IF over coffee, you stopped the conversation and asked me for my opinion, I would encourage you to take a separation from Josh. You may start to panic when I suggest this and I would remind you that separation is most often the healthiest response at a time like this. A period of separation doesn’t have to mean forever. Sometimes separation is the only way to achieve healthy reconciliation. I’d hope that I wouldn’t stop there. I’d hope that I’d be the type of friend who would not only offer my opinion but also help with logistics (I understand that Anna is unemployed and uneducated with 4 children).
In the past week, I’ve read several posts re: Anna and women’s rights. While I agree with the principles at heart, we must remember that it’s easy for us to say “she should do this or that” but it’s a lot harder to put those values into action. What good is it for us to tell a woman that she should leave her abusive husband and not back that up with practical support? What good comes from writing fiery posts about how Anna should be a better role model for women + how we’d do better if in her situation? Would we really? How do we know this (not having lived a day in her shoes)?
I want to have coffee with Anna Duggar. The likelihood of that ever happening is…slim. But guess what? There are women who are broken and need support all around me. They live in my community. Yours too. Almost every town has a shelter for women who are extremely vulnerable. No, these women may not be associated with a super large family that had a reality show. But there are women who are at rock bottom with very few who will listen. There are women who would make a change if someone would help them to do this practically speaking. Women who need to hear less “you just leave him” and more, “I will listen AND HELP you.”
Let’s remember that it’s easy for us to say what we think Anna Duggar should do. It’s easy for us to assume that if we were in someone else’s shoes we’d do this or that. Talk is cheap. Action – action is hard. Action hurts. Action costs us (time, money). Action means becoming a better listener to help another woman find her voice. Action means financially and practically supporting a vulnerable woman in getting on her feet. Action means hugs. Not virtual ones. Real life, tears streaming down your face hugs. And sitting down to coffee with someone that you normally wouldn’t have rubbed shoulders with.
My heart is broken for Anna Duggar. And for their children. It’s one thing to find out that your husband has been unfaithful – I’d imagine that it’s quite another to find out along side millions of people that you’ve never met. To have the world anxiously awaiting word on what you will do. I’m sure that it adds a painful layer to a hurt that’s so dark and deep already. Anna, while it’s unlikely that you and I will have coffee – I will pray for you. I will hope for you. And I will attempt to practically support a woman who is going through heartache in my own community. To support her not just with words but with action. To live out 1 John 3:18: “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth”. Empowering women practically speaking is the change this world desperately needs. We’ve all heard the speech. It’s time for action.