There’s something to say about the power of a great book. It has the ability to transport you to any location or to any period. It will draw you into the deepest forest or take you on thrilling rides through intense scenes of mystery and intrigue. A great book will take you on a journey far beyond your wildest imagination, pulling you from reality into a world of limitless possibilities and providing an effective respite from reality. Branden Hamilton was a teenager who knew all too well the solace of a great book. But the temporary peace it provided was just that – temporary.
“Life is never easy. People have their own struggles and their own troubles. As for me, I was never raised in a home with stability.” At 14 years of age, Branden and his family moved often from place to place making it difficult for him to find peace. Along with his younger sister, he was raised in a single family home for 10 years. His mom worked hard trying to provide for the family and Branden helped her in anyway that he could. He also helped to take care of his sister who suffers from Autism, a developmental disorder that appears in the first 3 years of life. Branden’s grandmother provided help to the family, helping out where she could from the time Branden and his sister were born. Branden loved his family but there was a consistent undertow of worry within himself, causing him to drift further away from peace and joy. “I was going through so much that it was hard to stay focused. I had a lot of worries – was the power going to get cut off? Was the truck still outside? How could I help my mom?” Branden soon found himself turning to books for peace. Whenever he was stressed, he liked to feel like he could be in a different place and that he could go anywhere or be anyone. Books became a huge part in helping Branden through life’s struggles. Despite the enjoyment of being able to escape to a world of fiction, things in Brenden’s life changed from bad to worse. These struggles began after the family’s home was broken into. Three days after the break-in, his mom packed everything and moved the family. “It was around that time that I stopped caring and I truly felt lost. I knew that I had other responsibilities so I stopped doing school work. I no longer cared about school or myself; I didn’t think it mattered anymore. That year I failed the 8th grade – and I starting thinking that nothing would ever go right for me and I would never be happy.”
Branden and his family moved to Wake Forest to stay with his grandparents. It is here that he met Craig Bezer and his family. They soon became really good friends but unfortunately Branden had to move away again. It would be 2 years before Branden and his family would return to Wake Forest. A few months after the family’s return to Wake Forest, his sister became ill. Branden stayed with the Bezer’s while his sister was checked into the hospital. That Sunday was the first time he attended Living Word. When he first stepped in the church he felt no different, but as he walked the halls he felt a longing within himself, like this was where he wanted to be. That feeling increased while listening to Pastor Steve. After hearing the message, Branden realized that this was what he wanted. He wanted peace. He wanted to be cared for and to have something to believe in. “I started to open myself up to the Lord. It wasn’t easy at first because I wasn’t used to opening myself up. Even now, I find it difficult to share my story. It’s getting easier everyday with the help of the Lord. Living Word has helped me so much! It has completely changed my outlook on life and has strengthened my bonds with my family, friends, and Jesus. My commitment to these things makes me work harder in school and try to be the best I can be!” School has changed dramatically for Branden, who is now 17. He is earning A’s and B’s , and no longer dreads school but enjoys it! “I feel amazing now. I love to hang out with my friends and I’m doing great in school. I think differently about everything. I’m more determined because I realize that if I want a good life I have to work hard for it.” Branden has discovered that no matter what, with faith you will get through anything. Even through hard times when it may seem hopeless like there’s no point to it all, have faith! Believe that you will get through it and you will never be alone.