By MADDY VITALE
Often, when people gather to listen to speakers about goals in life, love and career, they expect to hear advice from those who seem to have it all figured out and are blessed with the perfect recipe for happiness.
Those speakers impart wisdom on how their life is just, well, so right. They offer ways to do what they have done to give others the ability, perhaps, to have it all too.
Not Al and Lisa Robertson, members of the Duck Commander family who had the reality TV show Duck Dynasty. They offer a refreshing, enlightening and emotional message to couples. Yet their marriage once was anything but perfect. They overcame the obstacles of infidelity, drug abuse, abortion, distrust and shame.
The Robertsons shared their story during a marriage seminar at the Ocean City Tabernacle on Saturday.
“What we talk about comes out of healing,” Al Robertson said in an interview with OCNJDaily.com. “We want to share our stories with as many people as possible. We want people to have hope that things will work out.”
Lisa said that there is a perception out there, especially when it comes to people who speak from ministries, that the message always comes from people who have always had it together.
“People feel your life is perfect,” she pointed out. “We want to show people that there is hope, no matter what the situation you have been in.”
Often, people who attend their seminars come up to them afterward, they noted.
“They say that we are authentic,” Al said. “They thank us for our courage.”
The couple’s story began while in junior high, when they first began dating.
After a rough beginning, they married. Al was just 19 and Lisa was 18. Lisa gave birth to two daughters.
But Al’s early days of drinking and gallivanting, Lisa’s scars from sexual abuse by an uncle when she was a child, and an affair, created what most would see as a disastrous pairing that surely would not last.
The couple told the audience at the Tabernacle there was one thing that kept them together — their love for each other.
In time, they started on a clean road of love and family, with religion at the forefront, they said.
All seemed to be going well. Al became a pastor in the same church his family has been attending for years.
Then Lisa had an affair.
“Lisa had an inappropriate relationship with a man from church,” Al recalled of the infidelity that created heartache.
Al said that at the time, it left him angry and numb.
Lisa said when the truth finally came out, she was relieved.
“I felt pressure leaving my shoulders,” she said.
That is when she started to “trust in the Lord,” Lisa told the audience.
The affair almost ended their marriage. Then Al said he wanted her back. They worked things through and after many ups and downs, they share what they learned about never giving up on love, with others.
They counsel couples and speak across the country at churches, marriage retreats, pregnancy centers and many other events.
During a lunchbreak, people browsed a table that displayed several of the Robertsons’ books that detail their stories.
Ocean City Tabernacle CEO and President Pastor Jay Reimer stood alongside the table and chatted with guests.
He said of the Robertsons, “They talk about things that are so important in life and I value people who are able to come here and speak about their feelings.”
He praised them for their ability to help others who deal with troubles in their own relationships.
Couples shared Reimer’s feelings about the seminar.
Mike and Christy Baccala, of Ocean City, said the message about family was the key takeaway for them at the seminar.
“We have three teenage kids,” Christy said. “It encourages us as parents to be better.”
Mike said he appreciated the Robertsons’ candor.
“In this world where so much is superficial, it is nice to see and hear about genuine, real life things,” he said.
Dawn and Tom Sherf, of Hainesport, N.J., told the Robertsons what their seminar meant to them.
“Thank you for sharing your story. It was very powerful,” Dawn remarked.
Tom spoke of the couple’s marriage. He noted that the Robertsons gave good advice.
“We got married 17 years ago,” he said, adding that they could certainly relate to some things in the Robertsons’ message, specifically the importance of family.
The Robertsons live in West Monroe, Louisiana, with the rest of the Duck Commander family. Their two daughters are married. The couple has six grandchildren.
For those who did not attend the marriage seminar, there is still a chance to hear the Robertsons. They will speak Sunday at the Tabernacle’s 8:30 a.m. traditional and 10:30 a.m. contemporary worship services.
For a full schedule of speakers, concerts, conferences and other events at the Ocean City Tabernacle, visit octabernacle.org.
Located at 550 Wesley Avenue, the Ocean City Tabernacle is “a family ministry center where the Gospel of Jesus Christ is central.”