When someone asks me what I believe in, I stutter. I don’t have a cookie cutter answer, well pondered and polished for consumption. What do I believe in? I guess for most people it’s simple: heaven and hell. With an obvious affection for the former. But for me, well I believe in what I’ve seen. I’ve never seen God, paradise, or heavenly gates. I’ve never felt content, eternal or even redeemed. I don’t know sanctuary, salvation or security. I don’t know heaven. My life, however, is a beautiful thing. I’ve lived when I should’ve died, I lived when others died. Ive starred directly into the eyes of a man Far more selfless and honorable than I could fathom as the last moment of consciousness left his soul. I’ve watched a fearless warrior become a tired memory. I’ve seen a drunk get violent each night of my life, before I even knew right and wrong. I’ve spent nights praying for God to fix what I didn’t know was wrong. I’ve found love at the moment of loss; left wondering why it wasn’t there before. I have a habitual need to self destruct. A rabid dog kept at bay only by the responsibilities I have to my family. I’ve wrapped my brother’s cold dead corpse in a proud blue uniform on a stainless steel pedestal at the local interment home after his weaknesses culminated in one final moment of irrational judgment. I’ve known to it’s fullest extent; wondering why. I hate people for their ignorance, and praise them for their generosity. I know pain, regret, shame and guilt, but I don’t know heaven. I’ve been beaten, defeated, wounded and forgotten. I know hell. For me, hell isn’t a scare tactic to keep my on the straight and narrow.

No, it’s a tangible thing. It has a taste, smell, sight, sound and touch. Yet, I’ve survived. The idea of heaven, the memories of hell, I’m content with here and now. So, when someone asks, “what do you believe in?” I simply respond, “I believe in me.”