Liar, arrogant, hateful, self-centered, and an imposter. It’s hard to believe that those were the words used to describe me not long ago. But I’ve come a long way since then.
My journey in this new life has only just begun. And the most beautiful thing about it is that God already had it planned that way. He was just waiting for me to take the first step.
My name is Brandon, and this is my story.
At only 11 months old, my parents divorced. My mom and grandparents worked hard and brought me up in a loving home. I always had what I wanted and needed. My dad wasn’t always around. He worked in radio and was trying to get his band together to become famous rockstars. If only he knew he was already a rockstar in the eyes of his son. I was his number one fan.
My grandparents, Jim and Mary, are the biggest influences in my life. Better known as Papa and Nana, my grandparents worked hard and tried to teach me to be the best I could be. Sadly, it wasn’t until many years and MANY mistakes later that I ever paid enough attention to realize it.
I’ve always been introverted. I like to keep to myself and not share my thoughts or feelings out of fear of being judged as weak. But being that way for so long has cost me many things. I should have been listening to Papa and Nana, but instead I was young and naïve.
In my junior year of high school, I had a friend that told me he was struggling. I started to notice weird behavior. He’d have safety pins in his fingernails, cut marks, and he smelled like alcohol all the time. Then, one day while walking home from school, he told me he needed help. But I was an introverted kid who didn’t know what to do or the right thing to say. My response to him was, “Don’t do something dumb. I’ll see you tomorrow.” Unfortunately, tomorrow never came. He took his life on a Myspace video. Like everything else, I kept it to myself and brushed it under the rug so I wouldn’t be perceived as weak.
After graduating high school, I experienced more hurt. My girlfriend was pregnant with triplets and was in a terrible car accident. She gave birth to the triplets, but they didn’t survive. At 17 years old, I became a father and experienced the loss of my children all on the same day.
At the age of 19, I joined the military. I graduated from basic training and advanced training as a military police officer and made great friends. I also learned a lot about myself in that time.
Then, at 21 years old, I got married and had two beautiful children, Michaela and Liam. Sadly, I suffered from severe mental breakdowns and had a few toxic behaviors that led to a divorce and some time in a behavioral hospital.
Finally, I developed a fresh look on life. I found myself in Branson, Missouri, and started working at Silver Dollar City. And that’s when God’s plan for my life became clear. While working, I met the kindest, most loving and beautiful woman I’ve ever known.
Her name is Allison and we have been married for almost six years now. The day we met is so vivid in my mind and one I will hold near for the rest of my life. I went on break and noticed a gorgeous woman in a red dress with white polka dots and white lapels sitting at a picnic table. She had on bright red lipstick and her hair was in Princess Leia buns. My heart stopped and my life started in the same moment.
Allie and I started dating. I met her parents for the first time when I lost my residence and became in jeopardy of being homeless. Her parents offered me a room in their home so I wouldn’t be without shelter. It was at that point in my life that things started to change even more. Just how God planned it.
Allie and I got married and were blessed with our oldest daughter, Everly. The excitement quickly turned to fear and heartbreak. She had a hole in her heart and would need open heart surgery to correct it when born.
I immediately reverted back to that introverted 17-year-old kid. This couldn’t happen to me again; I had come so far. I didn’t know it at the time, but it was still in God’s plan. He answered our prayers and watched over our little girl as she had surgery at nine months old.
Fast forward to today and that little girl is amazing and a walking miracle. If you saw her and didn’t know the story, you would never know she had the hole in her heart or the surgery. And shortly after her surgery, we found out we were expecting our second child. Her name is Olivia, and that red hair of hers is a fair warning of the spitfire attitude she has.
After many years and many mistakes, I was in a good place and started attending church with my wife. And then something happened I’ll never forget. Our pastor gave a sermon about change. Not much different than any other sermon that any other pastor gives about change, but this one stuck with me. We went home and I kept hearing his voice saying it was time. God was calling me. I called my pastor and told him I was ready for a change and that I was all in. I was ready for all the blessings God had in store for me. I was baptized!
Now, you remember those two people earlier that I said were big influences? My Papa and Nana? Well, after being baptized, I started to remember all the things they had been trying to teach me when I was young. Through God’s plan, I started a new life and could finally see things clearly. My grandparents showed me kindness, honesty, patience, dedication, hard work, and unconditional love before I could truly understand what they meant. Lucky for me, I was able to realize it while I still have them here to thank.
To complete my new life, I started a job at Fritz’s Adventure. For myself, and more importantly, for my family, I’ve been working every day towards becoming like my Papa. Even better, I got to show him. He and Nana made a visit to Fritz’s and I got to show them everything I’ve been working on to be the best me possible.
At the end of the visit, Papa said he was proud of me. He could see it all and how things had turned around, including my life, my family, my faith, and my work. I’m doing well. He compared it to a caterpillar being transformed. I had previously been worried only about myself and feeding my needs while not caring for anyone or anything around me. But through all the trials, God’s plan was there. He wrapped me in a cocoon and transformed me into an incredible creature that is now working hard to spread joy to others.
My prayer for anyone who might read this is to remember no matter how dark of a path you are on, be patient. Pray. God will get you through it all.
“This Is My Story” by Brandon Troyer