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Be Free

Feb 06, 2023

This post is by Jen Stanbro.


“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1

This time of year, with all of its goal setting and new year resolutioning, can feel very different for different people. For some, it’s a time of hope and anticipation, a time of fresh motivation and determination. For others, it can feel like pressure, overwhelming, discouraging and depressing right out of the gate. The idea of growth, change, and self-improvement can be exciting, but also daunting.

To be honest, for me this year, it’s neither. I’m neither bulldozing into 2023 nor cowering. More like gently padding in, keenly aware of who I am (strengths, weaknesses, and everything in between) and who God is (everything I need).

Any time we set a goal or make a plan, expectations naturally take root. And expectations can be dangerous things, but only if they’re held too tightly, clung too like Bilbo Baggins and his precious ring. It’s here that I think the enemy targets. Because he knows, and perhaps has even made it his mission to know well, that when our expectations go unmet, our native, human response is triggered.  

Disappointment can take on many forms.  Discouragement - literally the depleting of courage - can ensue. And particularly, if the credit for a failure lies squarely on our shoulders, guilt and shame stand ready to cripple us. Sounds heavy and dark, and sometimes it feels that way too, but other times these feelings slip in with stealth, disguised and dismissed. So we don’t realize how powerfully they hinder our growth

My own ‘New Years’ journey started out with a younger, idealistic me, stars in my eyes, goals in front of me. But then, as the proceeding days and weeks, years and failures exposed my weaknesses and proved my inabilities, self-condemnation and frustration took seats at the table. 

The times that followed found me on my knees, regularly reflecting, spilling it all out to the Lord, and then listening for His input. With each passing year, and each conversation with the Lord, I marveled at how His beautiful way could be so gentle with my shortcomings, yet beckon me still forward in hope, fortifying my spirit to try again in His strength and His power. It was inside countless prayers and quiet times before Him, that the Lord has compassionately handled the desires of heart, loosened the grasp of my expectations, and shown me how much better this journey could be. All while ruthlessly taking thoughts of guilt and condemnation captive and sending them to the guillotine. It has led to pure freedom. 

And here I find myself. There will be days when I feel like a pioneer, a trailblazer moving determinedly toward my goals. And there will be days when I feel like JELLO. I’m here for all of it. Me and faithful God, in this together, come what may.

Dr. Caroline Leaf recently shared a post that included this sweet truth bomb: “You can start, restart, and begin again as many times as you need, and whenever. Doesn’t mean you are a failure, it means you are a learner.

If you hear anything at all, please hear this: You don’t have to prove yourself to anyone, including yourself. If God has you, then He can do His work in you right now, right where you are. And however it goes, there will be new mercies for you in the morning, new mercies in a few hours or a few minutes, in the very next moment, or this one right here, whenever needed, as needed. Be free of guilt, shame, and condemnation, and live the glorious life He has for you right now.


Jen Stanbro is the singer/songwriter behind the Hello Mornings podcast theme song, “God Day.” She loves to hear truth, cancel out the lies and see love overcome fear. Her heart aches for the oppressed and marginalized, and she seeks to reignite God’s holy fire in the hearts of His people to love courageously like Jesus.

Photo by Ronnie Overgoor on Unsplash



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