Joey Jello on right
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. Read the rest of this entry →
Over the last few days, I’ve been thinking a lot about who I am, and how I can be me – better. After all, that’s what NEVER BETRAY is all about. The hard thing about being totally true to yourself is that sometimes it means that you no longer fit in the places where you had made yourself fit. This is where I find myself now as I tentatively stretch my limbs to occupy the space I was created for. (As I type this, I’m remembering seeing Joey stretch, and being awed by the amount of space he took up – not just physically but with his entire essence).
I’ve written about how I came to recognize my limited understanding of what it means to follow Christ, and as I continue to explore my thoughts about death, heaven, God, and living a life of purpose, the question of who I am seems to be central to the conflict within me.
I know the answer at least begins with “I am a person who loves generously and honestly.” This is something I’ve always known about myself, and it is the thing I’ve struggled with most. I’ve been hurt over and over again by friends who weren’t all in. And it made me start withholding myself. In the last few years, there have been many friendships that I have kept at arms’ length because I didn’t want to be be rejected again. I’ve avoided whole conversations rather than be the one who thinks differently. Read the rest of this entry →
I have always loved my brother, but there were times when I really didn’t understand him. I never let those things get in the way of my love for him, but it did bother me that I couldn’t understand things like why he didn’t bathe regularly.
Now that he’s gone, I wonder why I didn’t try harder to understand. Because it’s pretty obvious that his whole life was about breaking free from cultural norms and saying, “Hey, I don’t have to look (or smell) like you to be awesome and successful at life.” Read the rest of this entry →
One of Joey’s friends said that he was always the one who did stuff and inspired other people to do stuff. He’d say, “I’m going on a ride.” And they might whine, “I’m tired” or “It’s too hot” or some other lame response. And he’d say, “Stay home, chumps. Chumps stay home.”
He challenged people to be better, but he didn’t push. He just had this essence that made you want to be more like him. I often found myself doing things with my little brother that I’d never consider doing with anyone else – like strapping myself into a metal cage attached to 30-ft cables and catapulted into the air like a slingshot (a ride at an amusement park), but somehow he made the decision to DO something the obvious choice. You always wanted him to respect you, not just because he was cool (although he was) but because you knew you would be a better person if you attacked life the way he did.
Over the last few years, I had grown sedentary in my life. Jobs I’d worked had required me to sit for long periods of time, and I’d gained quite a bit of weight as I’d become “fat & happy” with my husband and 3 kids. All attempts to lose weight for me had been about conforming to cultural norms, being accepted, or fitting in. But something happened to my thinking after Joey’s death. Read the rest of this entry →