Matthew Ryan

Last week I wrote about my older brother Shaun and the influential role he played in my life growing up.

This post is about the other half of the coin.
My little “baby” brother – Matthew.

I’ve always called him Matt and that is what I will continue to call him. I say “the other side of the coin” very purposefully. Growing up wedged between these two brothers of mine – who couldn’t be any more different than night and day – was quite the feat! I am amazed to have survived the whole ordeal. Needless to say, Matt was an entirely other story in the pages of my life…

As a very young girl, I didn’t get along with Matt very well. Sure we played together (Hotwheels and Barbies) and we were still siblings, but something about his personality went entirely against the grain of mine.
I loved to read. Matt got bored with reading.
I loved to color and draw, but it was always a joy for me to “do it right”. Matt colored out of the lines.
There were even the archetypal moments where Matt was most definitely the “baby” of the family. Shaun and I did not do well with these moments when Matt would play his “I’m the youngest” card. It usually meant we either got in trouble, or that we simply just had to play or do whatever HE wanted to do.

I always felt sort of trapped in his shadow. Matt had and still has a HUGE personality. God given, mind you… But my personality (despite loving to make people laugh and just enjoying being around people in general) has always been much more laid back and introverted. I like to be alone. I like my space. I abhor being the center of attention, but I still like attention in smaller portions.

One day I was the baby girl, and the next thing I know I am the middle child sandwiched between my older brother and my loud and hyper little brother. It was difficult.

Here is a picture of Matt that shows his vivacious personality:

Needless to say, as much as I loved him because he was my brother… I don’t have as many memories of us being close because of the extreme differences in personality and the way his personality tested my patience daily. I know this doesn’t sound nice, but I am going somewhere beautiful with this, so just bear with me…

Shortly after I turned 18, I ran for the hills.
The hills of East Texas that is!
I was spreading my wings and flying (literally) and singing Martina McBride’s “Independence Day” the entire trip South!
I was free! Free of my past! Free of my family! Free to be whoever I wanted to be!

I was also naive.

Something I’ve learned in the 10 years since then is that you never are free of your past and you are never free of your family. Your family is a part of you. It not only shapes you, but it sticks with you like a starving 3rd-world leech. It is supposed to be that way. Our family is one of the many pieces of iron God has given us to sharpen us into better people.

My years at Teen Mania are an entirely long story meant for another post. Sometime between graduating as an intern and coming back as a Graduate Intern, I convinced Matt that Teen Mania was a part of his destiny. In fact, if I am remembering this correctly, I sat him down and forced him to apply. haha
Deep down, I loved my brother. I knew he was capable of great things and I wanted his life to be as impacted for God as mine was. I knew my other brother was already making another path for himself, so I wanted Matt (who was still young enough to have no locked-in plans) to find a home in East Texas like I did.

Here is a pic of us at Teen Mania. 🙂

And just one of Matt…. he was going through a phase. lol

So obviously Matt did eventually come to Teen Mania. For missions trips, the internship AND the Graduate Internship.  Once again, God tested my patience and my pride. People started referring to me as “Matt’s sister.” I wasn’t Tasha anymore?? Since when did I become Matt’s sister?? “I was here first, dang it!” I grew very mean and very resentful. I had made a home and a name for myself and suddenly I had become Matt’s sister. I always had been, but I didn’t seem to notice that. This was definitely a time in my life when I was struggling daily with my identity, my self-worth and my purpose. I certainly was not okay just being Matt’s sister.

Skip ahead a few years.

Matt and I didn’t talk hardly at all. I had distanced myself from him and everything that reminded me of my past and who I used to be. Meanwhile, Jesus was teaching me how to love. Not just showing love, but how to truly love. When it’s hard and when you feel like it isn’t profiting you anything – LOVE. I went through some hard times with a friend or two. I went through a season of loneliness. I went through a season of abandonment and betrayal. All for one purpose – to teach my wounded, running, self-serving heart what it means to truly love.

This is where Matt comes in with the good part.

Matthew was highly instrumental in teaching me how to love. Loving him was highly symbolic for me. (I tend to find symbolism in almost every area of my life.) Loving Matt was about loving my past…. loving my family…. loving who I used to be…. Poor guy probably didn’t know all those years I was distancing myself from him that he was a symbol of all those things, but it’s true…. In learning to love Matt, I learned to love truly and wholly. This has been the greatest lesson I’ve ever learned.

Now?
Now Matt lives 40 min south from me. We hang out when we can. We talk quite a bit. We have more in common than we used to. He is a much better listener now and I am way more patient. We vent to each other. We laugh and do life together. The treasure I’ve found is that I have found a friend in my little brother. I missed out on it all those years. Not because his personality wasn’t “right” – but because I was too unloving.

I am so grateful to now have him as my local family and my friend. He has grown up into an extraordinary man who loves God and cares deeply for his friends. He knows how to have a good time, throws a great party and remembers the little details about people that make them feel special. (<– rare quality in most people!)

He has also become quite the handsome man.

He shares a love for good country music and being outside like I do. 🙂

Me and Matt a few years ago:

So there you have it. My two brothers. I have grown to love them both – each in their own way. I wish my older brother Shaun lived closer, so that we could also become better friends and so our kids could grow up together. But I am so grateful that Matt lives here in Kansas City…. Maybe one day we will all be within a short drive from each other. (hint, hint – Shaun!)

Family is still family. They always will be.

But my brothers are more than that. They are my friends…. and I thank God for them. 🙂

* * *

Few more pics I couldn’t pass up!

Matt and Shaun being so weird and funny and ridiculous….  I’ve laughed and smiled so much growing up with these two. 🙂

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11 comments on “Matthew Ryan

  1. shaun says:

    the first pic is hilarious! I love it tasha. matt is lucky to have a sister like you.

  2. You could do one for each member of the family and then put them in a book, what a great gift idea! nice job.

  3. Tina says:

    Awwwww! I love Love LOVE this!!! And you!! You’re such a good writer. And I love hearing your heart. You’re so beautiful – inside, outside, and upside down!! I’m glad you’re only 40 minutes from Matt too. Cuz that means you’re only 40 minutes from ME!

    (P.S. We need to hang out. lol)

  4. Lisa Spady says:

    Tasha I haven’t met you but Matthew talks alot about you. 🙂 It was so fun to hear your heart. This was so beautiful written, as is your heart! That picture of you and matthew in the santa hats, is one of my favorites! Lisa Spady

  5. I love this. So great. The Lord has used you SO much in my life as well. So many times, just to have a family member that understood our upbringing and also my Teen Mania experiences.. You truly have been such an influential role in my life. So thankful for you and our friendship. Look forward to continuing to live life together. 🙂 I consider you one of my best friends!

    p.s. yes, you did pressure me into going to Teen Mania. Remember me crying in your living room after my first year out of gratitude? lol 🙂 Thanks again! changed my life!

  6. I still ALWAYS think of you when I hear that Martina Mcbride song! 🙂

  7. Another great page to your story, it would make a fun book. 🙂 you are a talented writer. and isn’t it funny out things work out that you are living closest to the one you got along with the least. i am glad you are good friends now. i love you both! 🙂

  8. Irene Ladd says:

    YOU ARE AN EXCELLENT WRITER….I loved that and Shaun’s too. Good Job!

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