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A Source of Hope in Darkest Moment

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“I was always just living for the pleasure of the moment,” says Brandon Sutton. “That’s-that’s what really defined my life: How can I get the next high? How can I get the next enjoyment? How can I maximize this fun?”

Brandon Sutton grew up in a stable, loving home. But in junior high he tried marijuana for the first time and got hooked. “I loved the effects it had; I loved the process. I loved, you know, the-the ritual, everything about it. I loved smoking it,” says Brandon.

Smoking pot opened the door to harder drugs and drinking in high school. As his life slid into spiritual darkness, his family found spiritual light at a Billy Graham Crusade.
“My entire family went down, went forward, at his—at his call, and I stayed in my seat,” says Brandon. “I thought it was embarrassing, you know, I-I wasn’t committed to what they were committing themselves to. I wouldn’t have called myself an atheist or an unbeliever, I would have said I believe those things but I, you know, it wasn’t a part of my life,” says Brandon.

Brandon’s drug use became a way to cope when he received shocking news from his mom. “She starts crying and telling me she has Stage 4 brain cancer, lung cancer, and lymph node cancer. And the doctors gave her three to six months to live. I’m devastated,” says Brandon. “You know, I just remember crying uncontrollably and telling her everything’s gonna be okay, we’re gonna be fine. And, you know, knowing inside I have no idea how this is gonna turn out.”

“I saw her then take chemotherapy and radiation and she started to wither away,” says Brandon. “And I just couldn’t handle that. You know, I-I come home from school, I didn’t want to look at her, I didn’t want to be around her. And so, I just—I would escape to go, you know, use drugs, to drink, just anything to escape reality.”

For the next 5 years, Brandon’s life was out of control. Cocaine became his next obsession, leading to criminal activity and jail time, even stealing from his dying mother. “At this point, you know, it just wasn’t fun anymore. That’s why I call it Phase 3, because, you know, Phase 1, fun and games; Phase 2 is still fun and games but numbing pain because of mom. Phase 3 is just, I don’t want to be sober, and I don’t want to be drunk. You know, I-I-I don’t want to—it's—life is miserable. I’m not happy,” says Brandon. 

“Suicide crossed my mind as an option. Going back to jail where I just came from was an option,” says Brandon. “Trying to find a recovery home or some type of rehab, you know, something. I gotta do something because this is not working.”

Seeing his desperation, Brandon’s grandmother invited him to live with her in a different state. “I knew that if I started drinking and drugging again, I'd become a terror to my grandmother. So, I-I stayed sober for the first 30, 40 days while I was down here, but I wasn’t happy about it,” says Brandon.

He attended AA meetings and longed for power to be set free from addiction. Then his aunt invited him to church, and he heard a message that changed his life. “It was completely different than anything I’ve ever, you know, experienced,” says Brandon. “But, he’s also saying and talking about things that I’ve never heard before either, like, ‘God desires a relationship with you. He-He desires for you to know Him and for Him to know you. For you to experience Him, for you to seek Him, that you can expect God to work in your life,’ that’s--what I was seeking. I was seeking a relationship with God. So, I was seeking to know God,” says Brandon.

That night Brandon surrendered and prayed for God to save him. “I said, ‘Lord, I can’t do this anymore.’ You know, ‘please do for me what I can’t do for myself,’” says Brandon. “Went to bed that night and woke up in the middle of the night and, I mean, it’s just—I remember it like it was yesterday, you know. I—all of a sudden, it dawned on me, that I didn’t desire to use, to drink, that I didn’t have those thoughts anymore,” says Brandon. “And just His rush of-of power and presence of God entered into my life like I’d never experienced before. I felt so hopeful and optimistic like—good things are going to happen and continue to happen for me. Life has meaning and purpose and God, you know, desires to do something with my life,” says Brandon.

Soon after his encounter with God, Brandon returned home and told his dying mom of his newfound faith. She passed away days later and at her funeral, he was able to point to God as a source of hope, even in the hardest moments. “I had this new life now and I just had this desire for all my old friends to sit and just let me share my testimony of the Gospel, what Christ has done,” says Brandon. “And now I’m standing up before them, this completely new person. You know, sharing the Gospel, sharing the testimony of my mom’s faith in Christ and what God has done. And-and it was just an-an amazing moment. I sensed a deep calling to preach the day we buried my mother,” says Brandon.

“I’ve been sober now for almost 16 years, following the Lord. Every year’s gotten better, you know. And it—that's the way it was,” says Brandon. “It was like every month was better than the last one. Every year was better than the last one. You know, and things just kept building and getting better. I have today, through Christ, complete power over drugs and alcohol. And what once had authority over me, I have authority over today,” says Brandon.

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About The Author

Karl Sutton

Karl Sutton has worked in Christian media since 2009. He has filmed and edited over 200 TV episodes and three documentaries which have won numerous film festivals and Telly awards. He joined CBN in 2019 and resides outside Nashville with his wife and four kids. He loves cycling, playing music, and serving others.