Ryan Wilkins is a devoted husband, a proud uncle, a protective brother, a skilled attorney, a fantasy-sports aficionado, and a good friend. His educational and leadership exploits range from the dignified (graduating from college with a perfect GPA; serving as Student Body President) to the slightly-less-so (ring-leading fraternity antics gone hilariously wrong; using the phrase “nuttier than squirrel poop” in a published article). Today, Ryan serves his church and community as a Stephen Minister and via his role on the Board of Directors for Ted E. Bear Hollow, a not-for-profit organization providing grief-support services to children who have lost loved ones.
On a more personal level, I have had the privilege of knowing Ryan since our freshman year of college. Over the years, I’ve witnessed his character in moments both big and small, in success and failure, in joy and in despair. Through it all, I’ve seen a man with a unique talent for pondering life’s big questions in unexpected ways. Perhaps this ability is a reflection of Ryan’s multifaceted personality, comprised of traits that might at first glance seem contradictory.
For instance, anyone who knows Ryan knows that he is intensely competitive. (I once witnessed Ryan wrestle a rival baseball team’s homerun ball from the clutches of another bleacher-seat fan and chuck it back onto the field, only to embarrassingly realize his foe was just a dad trying to keep the ball for his son.) But alongside his competitive nature, Ryan is also known for his kind and compassionate spirit. I think of the time when, during a tough winter and amidst his own trials, Ryan opened his door to a homeless man in need of a warm bed. Likewise, Ryan is undoubtedly one of the smartest people I’ve ever met. This is a man who, on demand, can take any word given to him and immediately repeat it, backwards. For example, grapefruit becomes tiurfeparg, instantly. Yet despite possessing the talent, confidence, and wit to easily brand himself the center of attention, Ryan has a wonderful way of making you feel like the most interesting person in the room.
Above all, though, I’ve come to deeply respect Ryan’s humility and vulnerability. He never lived his life in hopes of writing a book about it. And even though he’s a gifted storyteller, Ryan’s journey is not remarkable because of who he is. Instead, his journey (and in turn, this book) is remarkable because of who God is. My biggest credit to Ryan is how clearly he sees this truth, and how openly he shares his intensely personal and at times heartbreaking story—all in an effort to reveal God’s awesome nature and abundant love.
Realer than Real is a book as multifaceted as its author: funny, insightful, tender, quirky, and—most importantly—God-glorifying.