"Where Are You?" is an internal reflection of my journey of gratitude and doubt: doubt in myself, doubt in human nature, and doubt in God. I wrote the spoken word to explore my own experiences with spiritual battles and how my life has influenced them. I also took it as an opportunity to be honest about my questions about who God is and where He is while the events of the world are happening, both good and bad.
I want those who feel similarly or might struggle to feel welcome inside of the Christian faith to feel inspired by this piece; inspired to question, to express frustration, anger, and pain. I want them to know that God sees and feels all of it alongside them.
In creating this piece, I wanted the words and video element to represent the duality that can occur within a spiritual battle. I've seen many people struggle with the cognitive dissonance of acknowledging one's struggle while also being grateful. I believe that in the Christian faith specifically, it can be difficult to allow ourselves - and others - to be simultaneously heartbroken and thankful. When I read Ephesians 6:10-20, I'm reminded that you can wear your armor of God and still feel afraid. Soldiers are always afraid when they go into battle. Acknowledging that fear, expressing it however you need, and continuing to push forward with a spirit of gratitude is an incredible symbol of faith.
While the spoken word in this piece is a poetic reflection of repetitive thoughts, questions about God, and questions about life, I set out for the videos to reflect gratitude in a compilation of memory. Whether it's watching an old home video, appreciating the detailed architecture inside of a theater, or taking my dog for a walk, I tried to include moments where I could express gratitude in the midst of struggle.
Written and Directed by Brooklyn Jeunene
Produced by Brooklyn Jeunene
Edited by Brooklyn Jeunene
Music by Brooklyn Jeunene
‘Spiritual’ – relating to or affecting the human spirit or soul. ‘Battle’ – fight or struggle tenaciously to achieve or resist something.
When did mine begin?
Did my spiritual battle begin at my fight to stay alive as a newborn? Why did I have a stroke? Why did I have a seizure? What was that tiny version of myself fighting for? A chance at a life with more struggles? Was it worth it?
Did my battle begin with my parents’ divorce? All my life, I’ve been told that I’m exactly like my mother. My mom says my dad didn’t love her anymore. If I’m just like her, how can he still love me? Am I worthy of anyone loving me, if my dad couldn’t love my mom?
Did my battle begin when the sexual abuse did? Starving for male attention to distract from the fear of being alone, how could any three-year-old have known better?
Did my battle begin when my teacher called me stupid? I was threatened, taunted, and laughed at every day, only minutes before entering her classroom. If she’d known, would she still have expected me to perform well? Was I supposed to prove her wrong?
Did the battle begin when I took an abuser to court? I represented myself when I asked for protection from a man who threatened to break my neck. Did the battle begin when the judge said I should’ve known better? "You’re older than him," she said, as if my birth date somehow intimidated his six foot two narcissism into submission. ‘"This is why you shouldn’t play house," she said, as if our relationship was ever about anything more than my attempt to stay alive.
Did my battle begin when I started healing from the abuse? Some relationships with my family will never be the same, and the one person I wish I could forget is the one I think about every day.
When does the battle end? Where is God in all of this?
Are you out there? The day of evil has come again and again. I see it in my life. I see it in the pain of others. I see it in those less fortunate than me. I see it in the rejected, in the marginalized, in the lost, in those who are afraid. Where are you? How can we stand our ground in the midst of your silence?
I earned my belt. It sits firmly around my waist, reminding me of certain truths: people are flawed, people love hard, some people hurt harder. I wear the breastplate of righteousness. Yet, your soldiers insist I’m wearing it inside out. It doesn’t fit on me otherwise. It’s welded this way. How could it be wrong?
My feet walk in constant search of your peace, kicking up only the dust that years of battle have left behind. Maybe all that’s left is chaos. My shield of faith has withered in each battle. It needs repair. No one seems to have the tools to fix it. My helmet of salvation feels loose, rattling in the violent winds of loneliness and self-doubt. When I reach the frontlines of battle, will you leave me there to fight alone?
The sword of the Spirit… the word of God.. Where are you inside of it? What words have been manipulated and twisted against us? Your children are angry. They’re hurting. They’re hungry, and sick, and lonely. Where are you?
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