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2008 Conversations

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Connections: Jason Roy

Rebuilding Relationships

As a child, Jason Roy admired his “bulletproof” dad — a weight-lifting champion known as “the strongest man in Texas.” But as Roy grew older, his father’s drug addiction came to light. Roy, front man for the Christian band Building 429, recently spoke with Assistant Editor Jennifer McClure about the journey of rebuilding his relationship with his father, who is now a Christian, and his Heavenly Father.

evangel: What impact did your father’s drug addiction have on you?

ROY: As a kid, all I knew was that he was very quick to lose his temper. I didn’t have a clue about the drug abuse until I was 15 or 16. At that time I was in Texas living with my dad. That’s when I really started figuring out, Wait, there’s a chance that there’s been some drug use here of some sort.

Eventually Dad just told me: “Look, I’ve been into all of this stuff. I don’t want you going down the same road. This is bad stuff. I’ve made mistakes. I lost your mom over it.” He’d always say: “Your mom is such a good woman, and I put her through so much. You are not going to do the same thing to anybody else” — that kind of thing.

But it was hard to listen to that stuff, because after that many years of steroid use, his anger problems were an issue. When your dad sits down and tries to talk to you about serious stuff, and you’re used to being almost verbally assaulted, it’s kind of hard to hear it.

evangel: How did your father affect who you’ve become?

ROY: When you’re around that kind of person all of the time, you become mentally that kind of person. When I was in high school I had the “Come on, you want to mess with me? Come on. I’m not scared of you” kind of mentality. It took many years and a tragic event for me to finally get to the place where I could stand in humility and be confident.

evangel: The tragic event — are you referring to the time in college when you were assaulted during a basketball game?

ROY: Yeah, that’s what it took. I was still a very capable basketball player. I had Division 1 prospect scholarship offers and turned them down. So when I got on a basketball court in an intramural place, I pretty much had my way. I still had that mentality of my dad, which was, “I am the man, watch out.” I passed the ball down the baseline, turned around ... and then I woke up and there were paramedics all around me and blood everywhere. I had no idea what happened. I assumed it was just another shot.

Two days later a police officer showed up at my dorm room and asked if I was having problems with anybody on the court. I told him there was a guy on the other team who was talking a lot of trash and I was talking a lot of trash, too. I just assumed we’d do that and shake hands at the end of the game. Turns out, he was the same guy who assaulted me. The officer said, “He ran up behind you and hit you when you turned and then ran, leaving the scene.”

When a doctor tells you, “Man, you were lucky. You were real close to being in serious danger for your life,” that was the moment where I looked back to seven years before when I kind of half-heartedly surrendered my life to the ministry of music and then ran from it for seven years. That turned my eyes to, Hey, what am I doing here? This life is short. It’s over in an instant, and I’m living for me and for me alone. For my fame and my prestige. That’s got to end. Let’s start living what we believe, Jason. And that’s when I started going crazy writing songs about that, about my life and about Jesus. That’s what kind of gave me the bug to go on the road.

evangel: Were there any specific promises from the Bible that helped you through a certain struggle?

ROY: Jesus’ promise of “I will never leave you nor forsake you” — that’s what I’ve held onto my whole life. If you listen to my music, it’s in everything I write.

The beautiful part about my life is I can look back over the last 10 years and say, Yup, God was there. No question. He was there, too. That promise of His presence really would have to be the one thing I cling to more than anything else.

evangel: Any advice for those in a situation similar to yours who are looking to reconcile their relationship with their dad?

ROY: At some point you have to accept who your father is and who your father isn’t. And at some point you have to love him no matter what he is and no matter what he isn’t. No matter how much I’ve been mad at my dad in my lifetime, the worst thing that could possibly happen for me would be for me to know that my father left this planet without knowing that I loved him.

My dad drives me crazy sometimes. His thought processes do not always make sense to me, but I love that man. I fight for him. I pray for him, and I’m better for it. I get to see the very things I love about him and the things that frustrate me about him, and I get to make up my mind about who I’m going to be for my kids. You can’t see the whole picture if you just turn and walk away from your dad like he doesn’t exist. Learn who your father is, learn who your father isn’t, and love him in spite of all of that.

The other thing I’ll say is, sooner or later you’ve got to forgive him. It’s not worth it to hold onto the past.

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