One chance. That’s all you might have. One chance to let someone you care about know you’re in their corner. They’ve made poor decisions, but haven’t we all? They’ve really messed up a once bright future. If we’re honest, haven’t most of us been fortunate enough to be one or two bad decisions away from being in the same place? I sure have. In some ways, I felt like I was writing a letter to the other version of me. The one that didn’t go left that time and took the other path. The one that said “yes” when he should have said “no.” I probably reflect on the unbelievable amount of grace it took for me to be where I am today more than most. Maybe because I still can’t wrap my head around it.

Tonight I sat down and wrote my friend Shawn a letter. As of this moment, he’s being held in a cell. Should overcrowding become a problem at any given moment, his “crimes” are not high enough on the list to keep him locked up. I’m hopeful that I had one shot. One letter to try to breathe life into a guy I still very much believe in. I felt as though each word could change the entire message. Each thought had to be carefully crafted and spelled out.

So what would you say? What would you write?

All I could do was speak for the many that have told me how much they care about him the last few days. Each stroke of the pen was another voice saying how much we believe he can beat whatever demons are chasing him. Each line a vote of confidence for a future which can be so much brighter. I attempted to give hope to what must seem hopeless. I reminded him he is my friend. I reminded him he is my brother. I reminded him he has friends all across the United States cheering for him to rise from this moment and live again.

I closed my letter with a reminder that we all fight addictions and demons. We all have scars from battles we’ve lost and a few we’ve won. Yet there is a hope in something far greater. There is a God that knows his name, his circumstance and his struggles. I enclosed a picture of my friend and I from years ago. It was a time when we connected. It was a time when I listened and he shared hope. He shared a hope for better days and a plan to get there. It’s a hope for him I’ve carried all these years when I would find that picture. Today I mailed that picture and that hope back to him. I just pray it gets there in time.