As news of Bob Coy's resignation this past week continues to reverberate, one pastor is reaching out from his own past experience.
In an open letter published in The Christian Post, Brad Johnson, Pastor of California Community Church, Agoura Hills, tells Coy he is "on the front row cheering for" him, but also has some candid advice, warning that the rebuilding process will take years.
The current chapter of his life cannot be unwritten, Johnson admits, but he encourages Coy to remember that his life is not over yet and many more chapters can still be written.
Importantly, Johnson - whose own life fell apart because of an extra-marital affair - urges Coy not to give in to the darkest thoughts that can come when things go wrong:
"Bob, from the depths of my heart, I ask you to choose life. You will want to die. I'd be shocked if this isn't already on your list of possible 'solutions.'
"The rationale is not crazy. It runs like this: If I'm the problem, I'll deal with the problem. What that doesn't address is the new set of problems layered on your family's life. It will be sorrow poured upon sorrow, shame upon shame. Live through this. Or, may I say it a more hopeful way: You CAN Live Through This...and you must."
Part of the living through it comes from clinging "tenaciously" to Jesus and having the patience to endure the hostility, as well as the expressions of hurt and pain that will come from those closest to him who have been hurt by his actions.
"Through the next days, weeks and months, especially, allow your family members to grieve this and to process this in their own way (yelling, distancing themselves from you, remaining cold, whatever they need) for as long as it takes," Johnson writes.
"And you will have to balance respect for their boundaries and needs against your profound desire to pursue them. In the meantime, give yourself to the rebuilding of a life that is honorable, that they can once again love, respect and trust."
Despite the "grenade" that's gone off, Johnson reminds Coy that there are positives. Just as there are people who will treat him ungraciously, there are those who will be "gracious" and he'll be surprised by people's kindness to him.
He also reminds Coy that God has not stopped loving him: "The amazing grace you've often taught about is real and rich and redeeming. God loves you as much in your sin and shame as He ever did while you stood to teach thousands."
Johnson ends by challenging Coy not to put off the work of redeeming himself by even one day.
"Bob, you must rebuild your character, trust and respect. And that rebuilding can only happen, with God's help, one day at a time. Begin now," he says.
Read the letter in full here