“The One That Got Away, or Not Quite…”, by Jon Norsworthy

We have been blessed with so much success over the past twelve years since The

Sanctuary effort kicked off on 5/7/2003. However, occasionally we lose contact

with our clientele, and a few rare times contact is lost when things are going really

bad in the client’s life. This was certainly the case with “Dillon” (alias used to

protect the actual identity of client). My family and I spent so much time with Dillon

over several years, that he became like a son to my wife and I, and like a big brother

to our three daughters. Dillon was Marine Corps Infantryman who had a leg

amputated from an IED encounter in combat. Dillon had the “last rites” performed

over him four times when he was not expected to live another hour. One thing

anyone learns though after spending any amount of time with Dillon, he epitomizes

survival. Dillon’s physical recovery took several years mostly in the Washington, DC


My family and I spent more time with Dillon than nearly any other twenty to thirty

clients combined. He was also the closest to our heart with lots of time spent at our

house and the charity’s retreat center. One of the many problems though was Dillon

was on so many powerful prescriptive medications that you never knew when he

was zoning in our out of coherency. You never knew whether the words or actions

of compassion were really sinking in. Deep down I kept thinking in my heart, that

there was powerful divine purpose written across Dillon’s life.

As my family moved from Virginia down to Florida, Dillon moved back to his

hometown up North. That was when things really started to fall apart in Dillon’s life

and the time when our communications broke down. Dillon in a short period of

time suffered the compounding pains of going through divorce, losing custody of his

young son, and burying his father. The prescription medicines coupled with lots of

alcohol and lots of sorrow led to many emotional implosions and Dillon’s life was

falling apart fast. The last time I spoke to Dillon several years ago he had just had

some physical altercations with law enforcement and was facing charges. I found

myself digging deep down to find some words of exhortation and encouragement

for Dillon. Some of my last words were “Dillon, this is not who you are. You’ve got

to remember who you truly are, what your purpose is, and why you were born. You

were given life for a purpose of hope to those who have lost hope. I will be praying

for you.”

Communications stopped for several years. There were no email responses, no

phone call responses, no letters in the mailbox. Sporadically our daughters would

ask, “has anyone heard from Dillon? Well, okay we need to start praying for him

hard again.” There were many times over the past years where I was asking myself

deep within my soul, “Is this the one, is Dillon the one who got away?”

All was dark without any hope for light except in the deepest recesses of our faith in

the miraculous. Several weeks ago that miracle occurred. I sent out a LinkedIn

query to a “Dillon” who looked like the same one whom we lost communications

with several years ago. The phone rang, it was Dillon!!!

“Jon, I lost your contact information. I am so sorry we lost contact with each

other. Things got real dark for a long time. Thanks for not ever giving up on me.

I know at times it may have seemed hopeless, but it was all worthwhile. Your

words, all your words made a difference in my life. Through the prolonged

rehabilitation I kept seeing myself in times we met together and heard your

words, the words of hope about a redemptive future and the greatness of who I

truly was, and who God designed me to be.”

Dillon went on to recall numerous incidents from years earlier where we had spent

time together and he spoke in detail back to me the words I once spoke to him.

Many of these occasions were times Dillon was heavily medicated and he was not

always zoned-in to the conversations. So many of the words that I spoke were

delivered in faith that they would take seed for another season ahead when he


“Jon I wanted you to know you were my inspiration. Next week, July 3rd will mark a

total year of sobriety from all alcohol, all drugs, all medications. I have also moved

to a college town so I can use my disabled veteran benefits to begin college to get on

a track to become a clinical mental health counselor. Jon, I want to spend the rest of

my life helping other traumatized veterans without hope to find their hope and

purpose again. Thanks to you and your family for always praying for me, never

giving up, and never ceasing to try reaching out. I miss you and Laura and my three

little sisters and hope to see you all again soon.”

The one that got away, thank God, not quite…the best is yet to come.

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