More intention, less obligation

A new year, a new decade, a new beginning. A clean canvas to fill. 358 days to paint within. What colours and word are you going to choose for the painting of this next chapter? What will you make space for within the framework of this year?

Beginnings hold potential; potential to transition you into a new trajectory in life; potential for blooming. It often takes boldness to begin, for beginnings can feel both bare and brutal, big and beautiful, blurry and bright all at the same time.

Whether your beginning to this new year feel beautiful, blurry, or brutal (or something completely else), I pray you're awake to your heart's desire.

One of my desires for the new year, and even decade, is to live more out of intention than obligation.

An obligation is defined as a duty, a debt (of gratitude for a service or favour) and being bound morally and legally to someone or something. Obligation is not all bad. The bible speaks about how we are obligated to:

  • Take care of our families (1 Tim 5:4 AMP talks about it both being a religious duty and a natural obligation).
  • Speak in a manner that reflects our fear of God and profound respect for His precepts (James 3:10 AMP).
  • Walk and conduct ourselves just as Jesus walked and conducted Himself if we claim Him as God and Saviour (1 John 2:6 AMP - moral obligation).
  • Follow the Spirit's promptings instead of the flesh's demands (Romans 8:12 AMP).
  • Walk in His ways, His statutes, His commandments, His precepts, and His testimonies (1 Kings 2:3 AMP).
  • Righteousness (Romans 6:20 TPT).

Obligations keep us accountable to the ones we love; to our God and our families.

Where obligation gets unhealthy is when the vision for our own life is altered and others' agenda instead get to dictate our days. It affects our fruit and our freedom. Focus and effectiveness is rarely evident in our lives when we are dragged in different directions due to the pursuit of pleasing others:

"But make sure that you don’t get so absorbed and exhausted in taking care of all your day-by-day obligations that you lose track of the time and doze off, oblivious to God. The night is about over, dawn is about to break. Be up and awake to what God is doing!" Romans 13:11 MSG (my emphasis).

It's so easy to live unintentionally with no aim and just do what's demanded of us each day - to go about our errands, stay long for that birthday party because you feel obligated to, keep meeting up with a friend because you always have done it and so on. It's beautiful wanting to delight others. But when these above examples are done to earn approval or acceptance, you wear yourself out. God cares about the motive for our actions, though they look good on the outside:

"Though they fast, I will not hear their cry; and though they offer burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them [because they are done as obligations, and not as acts of loving obedience]" (my emphasis).

God doesn't wants dreadful, dutiful, dulled actions with no heart in it. He wants our loving obedience to the assignment He is waiting for us to steward. He wants our hearts, our all, surrendered before Him. He wants us focused and awake, not sidetracked by others' agendas, demands and expectations of you:

"Since we are approaching the end of all things, be intentional, purposeful, and self-controlled so that you can be given to prayer" 1 Peter 4:7 TPT (my emphasis).

He has an assignment for you this season which takes prioritisation. He wants to partner with you to give your dreams legs.

If you're up for that shift in life, I believe 2020 can be the year where you’ll live more out of intention and less out of obligation. Jesus' death marked the transition from the old plan to the new one, canceling your old obligations once and for all (Heb 9,16 MSG). Therefore you can resist and refuse those who try to tie oppressive burdens of religious obligations on your back (Matthew 23:4 TPT).

Instead, by your beautiful intentions you can continue to do what brings pleasure to him (1 John 3,22 TPT). You can finish what you started last year without intentions growing stale. Once the commitment is clear, you do what you can, not what you can't (2 Corinthians 8:10 MSG).

As you're intentional with your time, treasure and talent this year, you'll make space for new births. It will move you out of being stuck in transition and into the trajectory for your life.

You've got what it takes to finish it up, so get to it. Your heart's been in the right place all along.

Whether you intentionally begun this new year or you have stumbled into it, the matter of fact is that it has begun! And though what you have intended to build into this year seem insignificant, know that the Lord delights in small beginnings and asks us not to despise them.  

Remember the promise that “[...]Though your beginning was insignificant, yet your end will greatly increase Job 8:7 AMP (my emphasis).

More intention, less obligation in Jesus' name.

Walk in His liberty.

All the best,

Sandra Hultén.

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Picture: Sophie Vestergård (instagram-handle: @sophvest).


I believe 2020 has the potential to be the year you’ll internally hear and believe that you’re ACCEPTED instead of rejected! 🙋🏼‍♀️

“Accepted” will be the soundtrack you walk to. Roots of rejection will be uprooted as you, by faith, receive the grace to walk free from people bondage and past wounds and into your identity in Jesus of being fully accepted - enfolded into the family of God:

“And you did not receive the “spirit of religious duty,” leading you back into the fear of never being good enough. But you have received the “Spirit of full acceptance,” enfolding you into the family of God” Romans 8:14-15 TPT.

To accept means to give consent, say yes to, approve of and to welcome.

How powerful to accept (give consent to, say yes to, approve of and welcome) the Holy Spirit’s stamp on you, His life in you, His breath in you. ✨

When you know you’re accepted, you can give consent to make God stretch you beyond what you’ve currently seen without looking to the left or right for approval of your every move. When you know you’re accepted, you can say yes to who you’ve been created to be. 

When you know you’re accepted, you can approve of the gifts you’ve been given and not reject or neglect using them anymore. 

When you know you’re accepted, you can welcome rather than abandon yourself - that is the redeemed, renewed self. The self which Christ shines through. 

Christ in you is the hope of glory. We share in Jesus’ glory. What a grace and what a mystery. What an ACCEPTANCE. 

So - welcome how Christ in you is expressed... Your personality, your gifts, your abilities, your quirks. 

Challenge accepted? (no pun intended)

I know I want to receive this by faith and apply and align myself accordingly 🤗

Whether you’re carrying perceived rejection, internal self-rejection with a harsh inner critic or experienced an actual rejection in a relationship, from a job, a certain group etc., know that you can apply the Word of God to your mind. 📖

With the mind of Christ, you’ll believe you’re accepted even while being rejected on the outside. 

As you accept the gift of you, you can give of yourself to others rather than neglect, abuse, despise and discard what you have to offer. ❤️

We’re accepted - in Jesus’ name. ✨

Picture by Sophie Vestergård  (Instagram-handle: @sophvest)

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Let the walls fall

Have you ever thought you were smart, later to find out what you have done has been silly and had the total opposite effect of what you actually pursued? I've tried this many times when it comes to creative processes. When I embark to paint something (which rarely happens), this is my experience. I'm thinking what I'm up to will turn out exactly as I envisions in my mind, and because of using the wrong painting tools and not having the regular practise, it ends up looking silly in comparison to what I pursued!

I think this goes for our hearts too sometimes. It's my heart experience at least. 🙋

For years, my heart was surrounded by thick walls built of destructive bricks. Bricks of insecurity, self hatred, control, perfectionism, people pleasing, unforgiveness, bitterness, and that's even only to name a few.

Sin, like these bricks are, always promises us satisfaction and safety, but ends up stealing from us. I thought each brick would build a wall of protection from getting hurt, but instead I built a destructive prison of isolation. What I envisioned would be good for my heart turned out to be silly, even traumatic. Just like my painting efforts.

My heart result was a numb, masked and superficial life filled with addiction. A life lived in denial about the real condition of my heart. I would pretend to be completely fine while I was dying from the inside; isolated in the shame of wrong thoughts which led to lots of negative emotions! Thank God our heart is not static but is ever shaped into His likeness.

So, how do we let the walls fall? How do we let light in?

My experience is we allow ourselves to feel it to heal it, we let Christ take over and be strong for us, and we bring others with us - holding the torch lighting the way for them to be set free as well! ⬇️⬇️

  1. Allow yourself to feel it to heal it

An important step in my healing process was to allow myself to feel again after years of suppressing my emotions. For a season I would write to my mentor every day and simply put into words how I was feeling.

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It was an exercise in being aware. Waking up. Not faking it for myself or others anymore. Coming out of denial. I began to express instead of living to impress.

It was a tough and humbling process to acknowledge my own weakness and not pretend to be strong when I was actually hurt. Daring to ask for help. Smashing pride in the face. Receiving grace. Letting the walls fall.

My mess was met with love and no sense of condemnation. It was so incredibly healing to realize that emotions are not a curse. They are gifts that make life colourful.

As I submitted my emotions to the authority of the wonderful word of God, the great exchange happened. An exchange of what was momentarily true about me for that which is the ultimate, forever truth about who I am in Him! He lowered my walls brick by brick so I could receive His steadfast love that melts lies away.

2. Let Christ take over and be strong for you!

As my walls came down, I began to come in contact with my own fragility and weakness, which is rarely a fun experience for anyone! It’s humbling for sure! But, I keep practising to just let Christ take over. And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become. (2 Corinthians 12:10 MSG)

What a crazy thought! The weaker we get, the stronger we become. This kingdom we are part of is truly upside down!

That’s why we especially as leaders as well need to lead upside down. I once heard someone say: “Before I trust you as a leader, show me your scars.” 

How profound. Jesus, our perfect leader, modeled this when He showed his scars to Thomas after His death and resurrection.

When Jesus let Thomas touch His scars, doubt was turned into belief. Jesus showed that His leadership was trustworthy because He could sympathise with humanity. He knew pain. He knew humiliation. He knew weakness. And conquered it all!

May we be people who dare to do show others our scars so that Jesus’ strength can shine forth and be revealed in our human weakness.

3. Bring others with you - hold the torch! 

We cannot take people where we have not been ourselves. When we allow the Lord to do the amazing work of wall breaking in us, we become carriers of the freedom and restoration we have received ourselves. We become lighthouses.

Figuratively speaking, we become like the Statue of Liberty; holding a torch of freedom in our hand that lights the way for others to follow.

Free in Jesus, we become people not focused on building walls to protect ourselves but rather people focused on building bridges to reach the lost!

God wants to bring our strongholds to ruin. (Psalm 89:40 NIV) With Him it’s safe to let the walls fall and let LOVE rush in.

So the question is: What do you want gracious Jesus to do for you? Will you dare to lower your wall brick by brick?

He is eagerly waiting for your request. He wants to break through for you.

Trust your heart ❤ to the One who sees hearts like we see faces, who hears ache like we hear voices, and who touches wounds like we touch skin. (Ann Voskamp)

Love you and it it together,


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