Like I mentioned before I’m a film major, which means I’ve quickly become the one who gets questions regarding camera settings or the go to person for help on this trip. It also means that when it came to videotaping the story of a refugee, I was one of the first asked to head up the camera aspect. So this morning I walked into the home of a refugee, thinking I knew the protocols and exactly how things would go. I was wrong.
Now I’ve been on dozens of these. I’ve directed sets of my own short films and spent time on interviews with my church. This is no mystery to me, and yet I sat there on the floor watching the monitor, slowly realizing that this was something I wasn’t ready for.
For once, I didn’t have control. The words coming from his mouth weren’t ones that I’ve heard before. I had no clue where it would led or how it would end. All I could do is sit and listen, and accept that this was the reality I had to bare witness to.
On every shoot before this, I knew the end of the story. I knew the happiness and salvation or miracles the subjects would speak of at the end of church testimonies. On my own private films, I would direct each scene with knowledge of their whole storylines in mind. Yes, I would destroy their characters and push them to their breaking point, but there’d always be a reason. I controlled everything to the point that I felt comfortable and brave enough to put parts of myself into each piece.
And there I was with my back against a peach wall, listening to a man pour out his life story about fleeing ISIS after the death of two young girls and a boy in his village. He spoke of his fear of not being able to provide for his children to the point that he would give up everything and work for the rest of his life if that’s what it meant. I was silent, as he told us about how he wanted to return home but was willing to go where God takes him. He even understood the losses he’d face simply because he saw a Facebook post about how in order to follow Christ, one must first sacrifice everything.
I’ve grown up in a Christian life to the point that my whole schooling to this moment has been Christian based, and yet this man has more trust in God’s plan than I ever had.
My whole life has been a struggle with doubt and fear of the unknown. I’ve lost faith in God more times than I can count. I’ve screamed at Him for answers, because I hate not knowing where my story will go. He tells me to be patient for His timing, but doubt of why I’m here on this earth sinks in. I doubt my future as a director or that I’ll ever be good enough to make it. Even the thought of having love or the picture perfect life past college seems like a strange and impossible dream after all the pain that has come and gone. I doubt the fact that God has something special planned for my life, because I can’t know for sure what or when things will happen. I’ve even had several days on this trip where I’ve wondered why am I even here.
And here’s a man who’s been through things I could never imagine, things that would make my life look like a cake walk. He knows that he has every right to be upset at God and to lose his faith, but he still holds tight to the trust that God will bring him out of it. He has the strength and belief that I wish I had.
So as I finished up the interview and packed up the equipment, the weight of his words pulled hard on my heart. Not in the way that’s draining, but instead it was one of being pushed. Maybe I was brought on this trip to learn to embrace the unknown. Maybe I won’t know why for another couple years, and for the first time on this trip, I’m okay with that.
Because this is a lesson I have to learn. I have to learn that I can’t know everything. I have to deal with the story, as it unfolds and trust that God has something beautiful in mind. It’s not going to be easy for me to accept, but this man has showed me that it’s possible. I just have to learn to let go and surrender to the flow instead of fighting the current.