An Open Letter To Anna Duggar

imageI don’t know you Anna. I only know the image of you that has been marketed on TV. Nevertheless, my heart breaks for you. I am so sorry. You are now part of a club that NO ONE ever wants to be in. It is the worst club Anna. You know that already. A hand grenade has been detonated and thrown smack dab into the middle of your life. I understand. You are not alone.

There will be so many people who will tell you what you need to do. Some of these people will be well-meaning and some of them will not. No one really knows Anna. Some of your closest friends may be totally shocked to learn about what has happened in your marriage, and some of them will not be. You have to remember that only you know the truth Anna. You are the only person that has lived in your shoes day in and day out. You are the only person that really knows Josh’s heart and intentions and capacity to change. There is a soft still voice in your head Anna. I believe that is the voice of the Holy Spirit; trust that voice. It will speak to you and guide you as you attempt to navigate out of the depths of despair. I would like to offer some humble words of encouragement for you on your journey.

1. Say yes. Yes I need help. Yes I could use help with meals, yes you can watch my kids, yes you can stop by, yes you can clean my house. Yes, I will not be able to ask for it, so yes you have my permission to step into the gap and provide it. You need to allow others to serve you right now. It is humbling, and difficult, and necessary. Anna, you need all of your strength, all of your sanity, all of your courage for today. And then you will need it all over again for tomorrow.

2. Find your people. This road of suffering is lonely and barren; long and agonizing. There are men and women ahead of you on this journey. There are also people right alongside you. Sadly, soon there will be those that come after you. Find these people Anna. Your soul will not survive without the camaraderie of those that have gone before you. The first time that you share your heart with a fellow traveler, and they say, “Me too. I know exactly what you mean,” your soul will flicker with the tiniest ember of hope. The connection between your hearts will lay down a thin thread.  Sometimes you will feel like you are floating away.  Those people will feel tension on the line when you start to disconnect.  They will show up for you.  They will keep you grounded, connected and safe. Hang onto those threads Anna.

3. Give yourself grace. And then give yourself another heaping portion of it. I think you are the kind of person that wants to do it all. And you want to do it all well. And you want other people to approve of how you are doing it all. Anna, you can’t do it all. You will fail. You will unravel at the slightest thing. You will drift off into space, walk around in a cloud, and snap at your loved ones. You will sob in the car. You will forget things that you always reliably remembered. Let it go. Forgive yourself. In fact, treat yourself. Give yourself permission to take extra care of yourself. Allow luxuries that were previously thought frivolous. They aren’t luxuries anymore Anna, they are survival.

4. Be a courageous truth teller. We are a people called to walk in the light. We are told that the truth will set us free. You are part of a generation of women that can do hard things. You can do hard things! Do not sacrifice your integrity to defend someone else who lacks it. Allow yourself to feel whatever comes along. Face the pain and the agony head on. Admit how much it hurts. If you are mad at God, He can handle it. Lean in to the truth Anna. Love is not shaming or silencing, controlling or deceitful. It is open and honest and courageous. If your marriage gets put back together, it will be real, and honest, and stronger than before. If it doesn’t,you will hold your head up high as an honest and worthy woman of God.

The affairs were not about you Anna. There wasn’t anything missing, something you failed at, or some way that you did not measure up. It wasn’t you. His shame is not your shame. The healing is about you. It’s all about you. It is about your soul and your health and your children. It’s about your heart and your dignity. Your worth and your purity and your happiness aren’t dependent on Josh.  They never were. You are strong and worthy and beautiful all on your own. Your story doesn’t end with a divorce or a reconciliation.  That will only ever be part of your story Anna.  It is your life and your story. You still own that. Own it courageously.

Godspeed Anna,

A fellow traveler

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46 thoughts on “An Open Letter To Anna Duggar

  1. Dang, Dana this is seriously good. And can I just add that these little tidbits are so wise – words that I learned through my own hardship? Like you say in your profile we’re the same, yet different. My heartbreak differs but the wisdom you lay out here is universal. You are so so right. Let’s hope you can save others behind us just one or two struggles since you’ve given them guidelines for living thru the icky.

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  2. Dana, your letter honestly {and beautifully} captures the journey and offers hope to anyone walking it. I appreciate your transparency and I know thousands of other women out there will, too. You have walked this road with more strength and smarts than anyone I know! I’m so glad you are writing about it and sharing what you’re learning along the way. xoxo

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  3. Hey there Dana,So glad I found you (as if you were lost) I read you letter to Anna on the Duggar Blog and I cried. I feel and lived yours and Annas pain. After all of these years I finally got it..IT WASN’T ABOUT ME. I didn’t fail our relationship HE DID..Our marriage managed to survive it but I have to admit there was always a little voice in the back of my mind asking..What could I have done differently? Today I got my answer but at the same time left me with a question..Where were you 26 years ago..:)

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  4. Amen!

    Been through it ….still standing for my marriage.
    Anniversary 35 this month

    His adultery most of our marriage include a lengthy on with one woman committed to her feminist leftist agenda to have children outside of marriage as a”single mom by choice” a more contemporary form of glamorizing those women who don’t want marriage but only want support while using lustful married men to further their own selfish lifestyle

    This is the new era of iniquity aka lawlessness

    I wait and pray while our family pays dearly for the two children this woman demanded from my husband to keep his secret life secret

    Sins will find out out

    My husbands secrets were discovered and revealed by accident as I was sent to find some papers for him after a move

    I found photos of the two children

    This has been devastating to all of us

    My faith stands

    My hope is in Christ

    I cannot imagine the pain of going through this under the scrutiny of the broad public spotlight

    But what God will do is beyond our present experience and Jesus Christ is our refuge
    Our very present hope in times like these

    Stay strong

    Thank you for your very compassionate and wise counsel

    I love you for the words you sent Anna😍

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  5. What an inspiration you are your letter to Anna really touched my heart. Although I am a 68 year old grandmother now I experienced a most similar thing in my first marriage and I could have used some of your encouragement back then when things like that were so looked down on and almost unheard of. The only out I felt was divorce but we ended up as best of friends because of our special needs son and still are. People can change their ways! It’s not too late for Josh.
    God Bless you always!

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  6. Your letter really touched my heart. I also had an unfaithful husband…tried standing by him the first time…but when he showed he wasn’t going to stop that behavior I had to leave. It is extremely hard when I wasn’t raised to “believe” in divorce. This really was a great letter. I hope Anna reads it and it helps her! =)

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    • I know exactly what you mean about not believing in divorce. Sometimes we find ourselves in a situation that requires a bold step outside of the box. It always takes 2 fully committed people to make a marriage work. Best of luck to you!

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      • Thank you! It is indeed the most painful thing I went through in my life, especially that he had feelings for the other women, but God is an awesome God of restauration and He is doing great things in my marriage. Even if we are still in the middle of smoking ruins, it gives me great hope for the future. I will probably never trust my husband again, but I will always trust in God who is Faithful and Truth!

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  7. Thank you for sharing this. This whole ordeal with the Duggars has really brought back so many emotions. Mainly, anger. I to married a “Godly” man. One that was raised in the church. One that works at a high profile job in Christian publication, Spreading the gospel. Except my husband denied EVERYTHING, for along time (even though there was proof , credit card bills, Internet history, and so on) it’s been 4 years since all of it has happened and nothing has changed in his life. I’m so tired of feeling unworthy of his love. I have just feel STUCK!!! thank you for this letter. It ignited hope in my heart, again!

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    • I understand what you mean, probably more than you know right now. It is SO hard to separate our faith from our circumstance. Especially when they are uniquely tied together. I am praying for your peace Kristy.

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  9. WOW. That is what went through my head as I read this post. One, because it is beautifully written. Two, because I wish it were written to me. I selfishly think how these words would have held me, just a little. Comforted me, just a bit. Given me a glimpse of hope as I laid on the floor in my closet with the light off for weeks asking God for death. And yet just two long years later I read these words and realize that they are for me. They are life giving water to the desert of my heart. Hope to see I am not alone. God carried me, sheltered me, provided for me, sat with me in my closet, listened to my hurt and anger, cried with me and for me. And yet, I could have really used a friend. A flesh and blood, sit across from me and weep with me friend. Someone to hug, to call, to talk through my anxiety with. I went through it alone. With no family, no friends. It was me and God with the heavenly hosts watching as I laid in my closet full of black velvet hangers from Costco full of clothes that no longer fit and tears flooding my carpet. And yet, here I am, still breathing (or sucking air as my dad likes to say), scarred, broken and re-built again as a totally different version of the me that existed before. She is dead. I am someone new. I am still learning about this new woman that walks around in my skin and stares back at me with my face. She is stronger, wiser, harder than the woman who lived here before. And yet she is more loving, more intentional, much less scared, braver and full of a desire for a life that is real and raw and beautiful. She is me, and I am grateful for your letter to Anna. Yes, Anna, go and find your people. But even if you look for them and come up short, don’t be afraid. Even if you find yourself alone through it all, you will make it. God WILL carry you through it. He is enough. He was for me.

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    • Wow, right back at you! Beautifully and bravely shared Kristin. You weren’t alone. I too have cried in the closet (I actually forgot about it until you typed it). I too have thought horrible thoughts, and I too keep going. It hasn’t all been pretty. Not even close. I’m sorry you felt alone. I am proud of you and I think we will only get stronger as we rebuild. My hope is that through my sharing, less women will be alone!

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  10. I love this letter! I have been down that road also about 4 yrs ago. My marriage ended and my husband married his girlfriend. I thought I would surely die at the time. I always wondered what I could have done differently,, after all this was the person that I prayed God would send me! You have shown me that there was nothing that I did or could have done differently. Thank you for your very wise words! I too pray that Anna will find peace.

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  11. Dana you are a talented writer, an amazing, strong and brave woman, friend and mom. What a gift you have given these other women who have walked a similar road. I was so lucky to have had friends to walk with me when I went thru it, but there aren’t enough encouraging words on the planet to heal the war torn hearts we wear after such pain and betrayal.

    God is huge, and awesome, but people and words are as important during this grueling, horrific season. I can’t believe how far you’ve come in these past 2 years. I do believe God will continue to use your own pain to reach out to others suffering in the same/similar way. The uniqueness of the public spectacle you have endured (and Anna, and others) brings even more usefulness in your brave, raw, beautiful, vulnerable, heartfelt words. I love you friend, and am so excited to see your continued healing and strength ….you are a great example as a mom…although you can’t take away the pain your kids are experiencing, you can show them another way to deal with it. Bravely, boldly and honestly. You are awesome!! XOXO

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  12. I don’t even know where to begin. My heart is breaking for Anna and I have cried many tears for her. I can’t even imagine how she can breathe at times. I have lifted her to my Savior and prayed for strength to just do the next thing. I hope and pray that she has read your letter and reached out to you. Your (His) words were so full of grace and love that I was brought to tears. Thank you. I have been encouraged and will keep your words close.

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