Since my latest tattoo, a person who cares a lot about me mentioned their concern that people would judge me because of my tattoos. Because of who this was, I knew that this concern was real and not a roundabout way of saying that this person was judging me. And I understood the concern because I remember thinking something similar when Joey showed up with the words NEVER BETRAY backwards on his neck – all I could think was that so many people would miss out on knowing my awesome brother because they would write him off as soon as they saw ink on his neck.
But then Joey died, and all these amazing people, many of whom had ink from head to toe and dressed and lived so differently from me, came out of the woodwork it seemed and cared for me and my family as though we were their family. They are truly the kindest, most loving people I have ever encountered (and I know a lot of great people). 😉
And suddenly I realized that throughout my life, without really noticing it, I had been judging people. Maybe I didn’t judge the average person with one or two small tattoos, or even those who had a sleeve, but some random combination of ink and/or style of dressing and/or way of speaking could turn me off to people if it wasn’t what I was used to. And that’s judging a book by it’s cover, plain and simple. How many wonderful folks have I missed out on because I didn’t walk in love long enough to see the person inside?
That’s not the kind of person I want to be. Losing Joey woke me up, and I want to wake others up, too. I think that’s a big part of why Joey lived the lifestyle he did. He wanted people to see that conforming or not conforming to societal norms doesn’t dictate the value of a person. I want people to see that, too. I want those who already know who I am to see that this ink on my arms doesn’t change who I am. I want people who are willing to look a little deeper to be rewarded with love.
Sure, there may be people who will judge me because of my ink, but that’s actually not my problem. People could just as readily judge me for not having ink or for dressing the “wrong” way or for believing in God or for being overweight or for being a stay-at-home mom or for not breastfeeding, or for any number of things that might keep them from making a heart connection. At the end of our lives, you see, that’s what matters – how many hearts did you touch? Joey’s memorials across the country and the world are evidence that his ink didn’t keep him from making heart connections everywhere he went. I purpose to make that true for me as well.