Resolved but energetic. This week we interview a man who is redefining manhood in his own way. Ryan Roby gives us his unfiltered story of both loss and gain, fall and rise.
Name: Ryan Roby
Occupation: Student at the University of Kentucky
"I’ve eaten the hottest chili pepper in the world, The Carolina reaper. Overall it was probably the worst experience of my life. Wouldn’t recommend trying it. "
Q: Ryan, tell us some about you and your family
A: I was originally born in Charlotte, North Carolina (go Heels). My dad worked in business and we moved around a lot when I was younger as a result. We finally ended up in Louisville where I stayed until leaving after high school to attend UK in Lexington. I have a brother, Ross who is 29 and a sister, Carrie who is 27. My family has always been a very tight family, and the importance of keeping family close has always been stressed heavily on us. I love sports and music, and often am either watching, listening, or playing whenever I can.
Q: Okay so Ryan, walk us through who you were before knowing Christ.
A: I lost my dad to cancer when I was eleven. He fought hard for three and a half years, but the Lord decided it was time for him to come home. When I was a kid, I never fully processed what it meant for me to lose my father. I still remember when it happened, I wasn’t even sad, just more of a feeling of “ok, well that just happened”. It sounds weird, but I guess it was too much for me to handle, so my mind just blocked it out to protect me. After a while, the realization of it set in. I fell into a deep depression and was in a very dark place for a very long time. My dad was superman to me, and there is something to be said for the gift that is the bond between a father and his son. Knowing that I would never be able to speak to him again in this life absolutely wrecked me, and I spiraled down into a place that I would’ve never survived if God had not pulled me out of it.
Q: Can you describe the kind of "place" you found yourself in?
A: I had many problems that came out of that time, but the biggest one that had an impact on my life was insecurity. There is something so special about hearing your dad say, “I’m proud of you, son”, and not hearing this played a huge role on my self-confidence. I began to look for my self-assurance in my humor. I had always been the “funny guy” at school and I latched onto this idea fervently. I think that I felt that if I tried to play this role of a happy, funny kid with not a care in the world, it would bleed over into my real self. I was very wrong. At school I would be funny and make people laugh, but at home I would often sit I my room crying and shouting at the Lord for help. I continued this cycle for years, until I attended a Christian retreat in Atlanta, Georgia freshman year where the Lord changed my life forever.
Q: Yeah, tell us what happened at the retreat?
A: I will never forget the week that I spent at camp Timberlake in Atlanta. At first, I was reluctant to go. At the time, a church camp sounded like the last thing I wanted to do, and the only reason I was excited was because I knew I’d get to hang out with my friends. The first night there however, God changed the course of my life in a mighty way. While the speaker was giving his message, I was just zoning out, staring off about who knows what, until the speaker started calling out the very things that I had been struggling with. My insecurity, my hopelessness and finally my fatherless-ness. When he began to speak on that I broke, all those past emotions came out and I started bawling. Not a normal cry mind you, one of those kinds where snots everywhere and you’re kind of half moaning and it’s just a bad time for everyone involved. It was at that time that Johnny Mendoza, a youth pastor that I had grown up around and was close to my dad, came over and started praying and speaking into my life. That night I began my walk with God, and I am so thankful for his grace and his unfaithful love he has for every one of us.
Q: What seemed to change once you began your walk with God?
A: After I met Jesus my confidence began to come back to me. I began to learn who I was in the Lord, and while I still liked to be funny and make people laugh, I did it in a different light. I began to seek wisdom in a new way, by speaking to other believers and delving deep in his word. The lord would give me these little bits of wisdom that I would use to change how I was living, and I often prayed about the verse in Psalm 139, which says “Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life”. Little by little, the Lord did exactly that. I began to notice these little things that I did that I never realized offended the heart of God, and the Lord began to do a work in me to uproot them. The Word became exciting for me to read, I realized just how much of a gift it is that we get the revelation of God to man in those pages, and I began to read it in a new light and with a new understanding. I still have a lot of struggles, and there’s still some things that I am working through in regard to losing my dad, but thank goodness we get to serve a God that knows how weak we as humans are. He gives us the strength and hope everyday to get us through the hard times and live a life that exemplifies him.
My all-time favorite bible verse is Acts 14:19-20 which says, “Then some Jews arrived from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowds to their side. They stoned Paul and dragged him out of town, thinking he was dead. But as the believers gathered around him, he got up and went back into the town. The next day he left with Barnabas for Derbe”. I love this verse because it was my dads’ verse for me. He always talked to me about living with boldness and courage for the Lord, and when we are knocked down, we have to get up and keep fighting the good fight for the Kingdom of God.
Q: That's so very true, Ryan. Do you think you can share one of those things you are working through still today?
A: The thing that I feel I have the hardest time with now in my life is uncertainty about the future. There are a lot of times now that I am in college that the weight of life really hits me, and I become a bit fearful about what the future holds. It’s during these times that I wish I could sit down with my dad and just ask him what it means to be a man of righteousness. How to be a Godly man that leads his family spiritually and serves the Lord fervently. Though I can’t, the Lord gives us so much in his Word that tells not only what it means to be a man of God, but what it means to trust in him and his plan for us. A verse that I often pray when I begin to feel fear about the future is Matthew 6:33-34 which says, “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you all you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today's trouble is enough for today”. This verse gives me so much hope about the future, and it’s so cool to me that God knows how anxious we get, and made it a point to say to us, “don’t worry about the future, I got it under control”.
Q: He certainly does have it under control! In three words how would you encourage men today?
A: Serve Christ boldly
And Ryan certainly does. He is a man who puts all his hard work towards the glory of the Lord. Whether it be serving the ministries he is a part of, grinding out the homework for his college courses, or working between semesters, Ryan is always fighting the good fight. We hope his story of both loss and gain speak to lift His name above all others. We are so thankful for men like Ryan who are redefining Manhood.
If you wish to get into contact with Ryan about his story, please visit our 'Contact Us' page. If you have a man you would like to nominate for Man of the Week and share their story, please also visit the 'Contact Us' page.