Have you ever felt overwhelmed by darkness, not just in the world around you but also within yourself? This was my reality. Every day, I grappled with a sense of powerlessness and discouragement, feelings many of us can relate to. Hello there! My name is Jae Nicole Brown; I’m 19, live on the Eastside of San Antonio, and writing on the Returning to Joy blog to share my journey of finding light amid darkness with you.
My Journey Through Darkness
Some people, in my opinion, don’t understand how difficult it is to grow up in a home where you are constantly invalidated. I had no place to voice my thoughts, feelings, and needs. Verbal abuse and emotional neglect led to a severe distrust in myself, God, and others. Unhealed wounds trapped me in darkness. I tried to escape, but I became severely unhinged, leading to a period of isolation. I didn’t think I deserved anything good because the world I lived in made me feel unworthy.
In the podcast episode Pushing Back the Darkness and Letting Light In, Gabrielle mentions the song Let a Little Light In by Jon Guerra as she speaks about her struggle with pain and injustice in the world. Like her, I was discouraged, overwhelmed, and left yearning for healing and hope.
After so many challenges, I decided I wanted to reclaim the power and strength taken from me at a young age. Self-reflection, a small support group, and seeking the Lord’s grace to heal changed my life. When I surrendered control to the Lord, I found a peace within that I didn’t know was possible. I had more patience for the ongoing trials and tribulations in my life. Things that used to affect my mood and outlook on life negatively were no longer a concern.
For the first time, I felt confident in myself. For the first time, I felt like a powerful person.
When I heard Gabrielle say, “Darkness revealed a light I didn’t notice before,” I felt so many emotions. My spirit was uplifted, and my soul felt cleansed because this was my story. In my deepest despair, I found my faith and, with it, my strength.
Gabrielle's reflections on the podcast and my journey reveal three truths:
Light is Always Present: Even in our darkest moments, Christ, our guiding light and hope of freedom, is present and waiting to be recognized.
"Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.” John 8:12
Darkness Cannot Overcome Light: No matter how overwhelming the shadows are, they cannot extinguish the light God has placed within you and around you.
"The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." James 1:5
Our Presence Matters: We might feel insignificant, but in the darkest places, what we carry within us can illuminate our path and the path of others.
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16
As Gabrielle Leonard beautifully puts it, "Your presence may seem insignificant at the moment. But if you step into a situation dark enough, you will light up the room with what you carry."
If you’re navigating a dark time or looking to make a difference in dark places, I encourage you to listen to this powerful episode. Let it be a guide for how to find light when you’re surrounded by darkness.
Jae Nicole Brown