I’m disappointed by the deep sexual sin that has a stranglehold on our world. I’m disappointed that unfaithful marriages plague our society and I’m disappointed that websites like Ashley Madison even have the ability to exist–byproducts of our catastrophic human brokenness and our insatiable desire for anything and everything that will fill the vacancies that exist within us.
But today I’m even more disappointed in the reaction of our society–especially the mass reaction of Christian women–surrounding the revelations about Josh Duggar, as well as the viral words directed towards Anna Duggar in the wake of such broken events.
So this open letter is to Jessica Kirkland, the fellow Georgia mother, who penned this viral Facebook post, and to every individual who has shared her words or spread this message or agreed in similar sentiment…
Let me start by saying that I am a fire-breathing woman. I am bold, I am outspoken, I am passionate. I am educated with a college degree. I am empowered. I own my own business, travel the world speaking, and have my first book being published, with a second guaranteed.
So, based on your words, I am much like you. And I am many of things you presumed Anna Duggar not to be.
I am also a 25-year-old, married mom-to-be. I believe the Holy Bible is the living, breathing Word of God and I cling to it’s truth wholeheartedly. I believe in the covenant of marriage–the magnitude of the vows made before God to love another unendingly. I believe in staying chaste before marriage, if my father had been alive I would have prayed he would have deemed Jeremiah “acceptable”, and I pray for the strength to stand by the man I am married to, daily. I believe I have a duty to love my husband just as Christ loves me, and that I have the blessed opportunity to bear children for him…for our family. I have been instructed by the wonderful people around me–men and women, alike–on what it looks like to be Godly. And though completely imperfect at this, I continue to lean into God’s instruction and grace constantly.
So, in truth, I am also stunningly similar to the Anna Duggar you perceive.
And as a woman who understands your fire and frustration and passion quite intimately and, at the same time, a woman who wholeheartedly supports Anna Duggar’s incredibly tough decision to stand by her all-too-human, broken husband loyally, I am disappointed at your perspective and your condemning words towards a perfect stranger’s family.
If I were in Anna Duggar’s shoes, I hope I would choose no differently. Because when Jesus Christ hung on the cross and bled for all of my transgressions and sins and failings, He chose no differently in spite of me. And when Anna made a vow to her husband, for better or for worse, she chose to love him as Christ first loved her. And that kind of love is unending.
That kind of love stares sins of the past in the eyes and says, “This aches me, and it hurts me, but we will work through this. Because, in Christ, You and I both have been redeemed.”
That kind of love stares sexual temptation and infidelity down and declares, “These sins will NOT win our marriage and will not own our story!”
That kind of love recognizes that even the Holy Word of God gives permission for divorce in the wake of infidelity, but it ALSO gives permission for grace to soak the situation and for a marital vow to rise above Satan’s victory.
That kind of love BREATHES FIRE, because it is the kind of love that is hard, and messy, and God-desperate, and grace-hungry, and prevailing even when everything the world says isn’t worth pursuing.
Not every woman who breathes fire feels the need to do so like a raging dragon on a public stage.
We have no idea the dynamic in their home. We have no idea what they are working through, the strength she is clinging to, and the hard road she is traveling in faith that God’s promises of healing and redemption are true. Really true. The kind of true that crawls off the pages of Scripture and breathes into real life. The kind of true that brings God’s grace to life for a sinner like Josh Duggar–even if it takes years to process through and surrender and heal. The kind of true that brings God’s grace to life for a sinner like me–who is strengthened in knowing that a life-long covenant of marriage is possible, even through seasons of defeat.
Who are we to throw stones at the house of a family who raised a daughter who is showing more composure in the face of national humiliation than most of this world could do? Who are we, as women, to presume we know all about another based solely on what we’ve seen on TV or read on our screen? Who are we to presume ourselves SO MUCH STRONGER than who we choose to label as “weak”? As if there is no sin or brokenness or struggle in our own homes that we are successful at muting or hiding.
Rather than spouting harsh words full of assumptions about a woman we do not know, we would be wise to share a viral message that MATTERS for thousands to know. Never mistake kindness for weakness. There is the strength of a lion within the spirit of a lamb. Grace is selfless strength.
I look forward to the day that immediately standing up and stepping out of a marriage isn’t seen as the strongest thing to do, but rather, that we would rally around those who fall to their knees and seek strength from the King who they vowed their marriage to.
I look forward to the day that we all lower ourselves for the sake of forgiveness so that those who fall short can rise up in grace. Because I would hope on the day that I undoubtedly fall short, as well, those around me would do the same.
I look forward to the day that we BREATHE TRUE FIRE as women, by loving and encouraging and lifting up one another, rather than presuming another woman is weak because she does not choose to do what you would do.
And I look forward to the day that our marital mentality is not framed around a record of wrongs and a power-struggle that would provoke one or the other to COWER, as you state. But that we would begin to build marriages where mutual respect and forgiveness and grace flow from our covenental wake.
I am praying for Anna Duggar. I am praying for their marriage and I am praying for their families. I’m also proactively praying for my own marriage–that we would never have to wade through this type of pain and adversity. And I’m praying for the COUNTLESS women and men whose stomachs turn when they turn on the computer and see posts about these things, because they know the same anguish exists in their own stories.
I’m praying for our children, that they would grow to breathe fire, indeed. But that that HOLY FIRE would look radically different from a world that says “run when it’s not easy…”
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