Ever since the most recent Josh Duggar scandal news broke, I've had an aching heart for his sweet wife, Anna. I finally wrote her a letter with things I wish someone had said to me five years ago.
Look. I'm done with the shame that surrounds the women in these situations.
Enough with it. Enough with the shame.
I get together every month or so with some amazing, awesome, beautiful, funny, smart women. We also have an epic group text going. They've been through similar trauma to Anna Duggar and myself. It's bonded us together. It's definitely a cool group to hang with. But, trust us, you don't want to qualify for it.
Not so long ago, we discussed the shame we've felt. The fact that deep down, even if they don't want to admit it, a lot of people think that our husbands' infidelity and indiscretions were ultimately our fault. That somehow, we had some fault that drove them away. Or that behind closed doors we were impossible, horrible witches so really we left our husbands with no choice.
We've felt more shame than if we'd actually done something wrong.
We wonder what people think about us. At times, our insecurities have shot up like skyscrapers.
So, it's time to start talking. Silence creates more shame. Bringing it into the light makes the shame fall away.
I know this letter is sort of dorky. But really, underneath the make-up, skinny jeans and Frye boots, I'm still the same dorky girl with bad hair that I was in middle school. So bear with me. And, if you are in her shoes, I pray that some part of this might help you put the pieces back together.
I wish I could fly across the country to Arkansas and give you a giant hug. I wish I could come help you with your sweet kids and give you room to live, breathe and think. Four and a half years ago, I was you. Three babies instead of four - but like your sweet baby Meredith, my third was only four weeks old.
I wasn't in the public eye. I've never been on TV or been a celebrity. But, I have discovered infidelity, felt the shock and the intense trauma when the bottom fell out. I've cried out to God, sobbing in the middle of the night from emotional pain that hurt so badly, I could swear I felt my heart physically break. I literally wanted to die, and cried out to Jesus that He could come back any time. I was ready.
I've wondered why my formula hadn't worked. Why good theology, homeschool, church and praying didn't "work." I wanted to know why my obedience and my "perfect" lifestyle had utterly failed. I sunk into depression as I faced the devastation of betrayal and mentally combed through my life with a fine tooth comb to find an answer -- what I could have done better, where I must have failed, what I said or didn't say.
I so badly wanted to be able to take the blame, just so I could have the satisfaction of an answer. Or at least make some cognitive peace with a life that now seemed to be nothing more than an illusion. I was disoriented and was grasping at the air, in a free fall, trying to get my feet to land on solid ground. Like spinning on a tilt-a-whirl, desperate to be able to fix my brain in some concrete place. Life had become an intense roller coaster. Albeit, not one I had stepped onto voluntarily. Rather, a ride I woke up on one day. Strapped in by the safety bar and unable to get off.
Sweet Anna. None of this is your fault. Not even one tiny bit. Not a crumb. Not a millisecond of it. True, you are not perfect. You are a vile sinner. Yes, in your human condition, you deserve Hell.
But sister, you do not own one ounce of responsibility for your husband's sin, his deliberate choice to break your marriage covenant. And, don't tell me that if I only knew how awful you were, I would see the truth.
I don't care how witchy you might have been. I don't care how lacking your physical relationship may have been. I could watch footage of your entire life, every moment and every step and I would never be convinced that this is your fault - not in whole and not in part. Your husband's actions were his and his alone. There's a great God in Heaven who has watched it all, and He agrees!
Please, take care of yourself.
Yes, I believe in God's power to redeem and restore. I believe God is so big that He can restore your marriage.
I also know you are God's daughter - one He cares for deeply. And also a daughter who currently has a big, open wound. When I was back at the beginning, where you are now, I felt torn down to nothing. But, God rebuilt me. He will rebuild you.
You are Josh Duggar's wife. Maybe you are called to this marriage, homeschooling, and the Duggar life. But those things do not define YOU. God defines you. You are more than your marriage. You are more than a mom to four gorgeous kids. God cares about you. And you are His. And He cares most about you knowing Him and His love for you.
So please. Lean into Jesus and those around you who love you. Don't believe the lies that this is your fault, and that you could have stopped it if you'd been better.
You are a gem. Your life is not over. God has big plans for you, no matter what the outcome of this big, giant mess.
All my love,
Jocelyn (a slightly crazy girl in Oregon who always, secretly, really thought it sounded like fun to have 19 kids)