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Redding, CA

Singer, songwriter, beard grower.

 

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Website and blog for songwriter Matt Stinton.

The Orphan Heart, Part 3

Matt Stinton

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Earlier this year, I started outlining the belief system held by the spiritual orphan. As you may know, someone’s belief system is the filter through which they see and interpret the world. Any event, challenge or interaction they encounter passes through this filter and is interpreted accordingly. 

For the spiritual orphan, it is a world of lack. It is a world of “every man for himself.” A world where no one will come through for you in your time of need so you must become your own nurturer, provider and caretaker. If you can’t get it yourself, you will never have it. It is very contrary to the principles of the Kingdom and everything that God has promised us as our Father. It is, however, sadly common inside the walls of the Church.

Like all symptoms of emotional wounds, the longer the orphan heart goes unchecked, the more problems it creates.

Often, those with the orphan heart start to become needy, constantly looking for validation and the approval of others. The more attention they get, the more attention they need because it never feels like quite enough.  

Sadly, this seemingly unquenchable drive actually pushes away the people around them. Like a black hole pulls in everything around it, so this void absorbs ounce of attention and energy it can get. This results in people around the needy individual feeling drained and exhausted. To preserve their energy, many people will begin to avoid interactions with these sorts of orphans, which only makes the orphans feel more alone and more desperate. While they are desperately trying to fill in the hole in their lives, they are simultaneously making it worse. They are chasing a shadow of what they really need. A cheap substitute for the real thing.

Sadly, the orphan may even begin to reject the help of others. Because they have gone without so often, they have convinced themselves that they don’t need anything or anyone. Or that they are a burden to anyone who offers to care for them. Because of this, they actually inadvertently rob themselves of the care they need.

In a lot of ways, an orphan keeps themselves orphaned because what they are really after they can never get without other people. They don’t believe that others will meet their needs so they keep everyone at arm’s distance…and then wonder why they always feel so alone. The sad irony of it all is that the very thing they are desperate for is found in the thing they probably fear the most: emotional intimacy, which is the ability to fully know another and be fully known in return.

In my next post, I hope to get at the heart of this issue and shed light on the process the orphan can take to find fulness and healing (spoiler alert: it’s all about serving others.)

The Orphan Heart, Part 2

Matt Stinton

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In my last post, I started to outline a problem I’ve found both in my own heart and in the hearts of many other people I’ve met. I refer to it as the orphan heart, or the spiritual orphan. Like an orphan in the natural, a spiritual orphan is someone who believes they are on their own. That no one is going to come through for them so they must save themselves (see my last post for a more in-depth explanation). As a child of God, we are truly never alone and never in need. However, for someone stuck in this mindset, that feels far from true.

Because of something (or perhaps many things) in their past, the orphan has never been able to fully trust others, particularly caretakers or authority figures. Some event or situation in which care and attention was needed came and went without intervention from those they relied on. As a result, a belief system is formed in their minds. They conclude that there must be some lack in themselves, or some glaring flaw, that they must overcome to be found worthy of attention.

This belief system is typically covert and often people aren’t aware that they’ve formed it. They are driven by a strong need they’ve never really stopped to identify. What is that need? There are many things they may tell you (most of them involving things like success or accolades) but the ultimate need is to answer one question: Am I valuable?

Because they weren’t shown value at some crucial junction in their lives, they don’t feel value inherently. Because of that, they are driven to find some way to prove, to themselves and others, that they are worthy of the attention and care of others. Either through success or talent, or by soaking up every ounce of attention they can get, they desperately try to find a way to feel value. They fear that who they are as a person is simply not enough and they must make up for it.

I don’t belief any of us would argue the point that this way of life is detrimental. Whenever a belief system is formed based on lack, it is unhealthy and detrimental to our development. It robs us seeing with Heaven's perspective and enforces poverty mentalities. When lack is your belief, lack is all you will see. But the real truth is there is no lack in the Kingdom and therefore any belief that is based on or around it, cannot be of God.

In my upcoming posts, I will start explaining some of the problems the orphan heart presents and how it robs us of deep and true connection with God and others. So if any of this is striking a chord in you, please stay tuned and I will do my best to unpack this subject and, hopefully, help you to find healing.

The Orphan Heart, Part 1

Matt Stinton

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“Who takes care of you?”

The question caught me completely off guard. While seemingly simple, it was targeted at something much deeper than surface level. 

I knew as I answered that He had so perfectly pointed out the root of the issues I was facing, “I do.”

I knew He was not after the obvious. He was not asking about a caregiver, a parent, a leader. He was after the thing that told me that no one was going to come through for me in a pinch. That no one would fight for me to be seen or heard. That if I couldn’t make it happen for myself, then it wouldn’t happen at all. He was after my orphan heart.

That one question would mark the beginning of what has been a 3 year process of being healed from a life of isolation and performing for approval. The further I’ve walked down this road of healing, the more I’ve realized how deadly a trap it has been for me and also how common it is in the lives around me. It is an epidemic that has taken society, both inside and outside the walls of the Church, by storm. And the more I learn, the more I realize how important it is for this to be addressed. For the church to step into her purpose, she must know who she is.

While there are many facets to the orphan heart, I have found this one thing to be the central problem: those with the orphan heart believes that they are on their own. 

When a child becomes an orphan, they lose the only source of security and identity they have—their parents. Without parents, they have no one to turn to when they’re in trouble, scared or anxious. The world becomes a unsafe place because there is no one in it to offer them comfort or solace from its storms.

What’s more, they find it extremely difficult to develop a sense of identity. Without the power and influence of a loving parent speaking into their lives, showing them what it means to be a part of a family, they have no point of reference for the question, “Who am I?” The only answer they have is what they can make of themselves.

Like so many other things in life, the natural reflects what happens in the spiritual. When someone becomes a spiritual orphan, the symptoms are exactly the same. They wander through the chapters of life without knowing who they are, because they do not know where or to whom they belong. The world has become an unsafe place for them where there is no one to turn to when they need help. No one they believe that will step in and fight for them. Anything they need, they have to get for themselves. Endlessly trying to earn their worth by being successful, charming, self-made. 

The problem is there are never accomplishments grand enough or attention fulfilling enough to satisfy the void the orphan is feeling. That void comes from a lack of identity and security at a foundational level. Until that is fixed, the problem will remain.

Part 2, coming soon.

8 signs of a performance mentality, or: how to be tired all the time and get nothing out of it.

Matt Stinton

For years, I’ve been a performer. An actor on the stage of my life. The role? Frankly, I played the role of the insecure musician who needed everyone to think he was the coolest and most talented guy around. To do this, I had to control every aspect of my life and image. Everything had to line up or shape up to make me come across just the way I needed to. Outfits, haircuts, social media posts, you name it. It all had to line up.

After years of this, I finally met someone who saw through the facade (enter wife, stage right, looking smart and very cute). One day, she asked me about all the acting. “It’s a lot of work trying to maintain that. Aren’t you tired all the time?” 

I stopped and thought about what I was doing, likely for the first time ever. I was tired. Exhausted, actually, and had been for years. Somewhere in life, I learned that I had to impress people to feel good about myself. That just being me wasn’t quite good enough and I had to try just a bit harder for people to value me.

That, as you can guess, is unhealthy. So now I’m on the exciting journey of how to not care about what people think…in the good way. Not the “I don’t need anyone else” way but the “That person disagrees with me and I’m not going to let it ruin my day” sort of way. 

I’ve compiled a list of things that should help you identify if you, too, are performing for love and approval.

1. You care about what people think of you. A lot.

You are always thinking about other people. You may pick out your outfits to appeal to the people you seek to impress. You may change the way you interact with others from one person to the next. Everything you say, you criticize afterwards and worry that you might have said something you shouldn’t have.

THE LIE: I will feel worthwhile if people have a good opinion of me.

THE TRUTH: You will only feel worthwhile when you finally believe what the Lord says about you. Chasing approval from other people is a fruitless endeavor.

2. You criticize yourself for making mistakes.

You have no grace for yourself so when you make a mistake, you are your own harshest critic. You likely think that this criticism will help you keep from making the same mistake in the future. You think you’re helping yourself but you’re not.

THE LIE: Mistakes make me look bad and if I look bad I am not worthy of approval.

THE TRUTH: You’re slowly killing yourself and sabotaging future efforts because you’re petrified of making mistakes. Mistakes are the stepping stones of success. 

3. You criticize others for the sake of feeling better about yourself.

When other people make mistakes or don’t perform well, it is your bread and butter. You may not be malicious about it but you do feel a bit better about yourself and feel a little more secure in your position when this happens. 

THE LIE: Seeing others fail will help me feel better, more valuable and more capable.

THE TRUTH: Feeling this way is really just a sign of insecurity. Insecurity will keep you terrified of seeing other people succeed, particularly when they succeed at something you want to be good at. 

4. Perfectionistic.

If you can’t do it perfectly, you won’t do it at all. You only want people to see you how you want to be seen. If they see you produce something that is mediocre, then you are mediocre. Even if they compliment you on it, you just HAVE to tell them all the ways you could have done it better.

THE LIE: I must produce quality to be viewed as quality.

THE TRUTH: This is a great way to be tired all the time. It’s also a great way to never be able to enjoy doing anything.

5. High need for affirmation.

Why do you need to be told 100 times that you did a good job? You don’t really know but what you do know is that you need to be told 100 times that you did a good job. Actually 101. Make that 102. You know, a few more times couldn’t really hurt. What’s more, you live for complements. When you don’t get them, you go fishing. “That was good, right?” or “I’m really happy with the way that turned out. (LONG PAUSE) What do you think?” or “This thing I just posted is so funny. Look!”

THE LIE: Affirmation from other people will eventually satisfy.

THE TRUTH: Needing constant affirmation is another telltale sign that you are insecure. You might have noticed by now but that void has never been filled by a complement or any other form of affirmation from another person.

6. Achievements and recognition make your world go around.

Congratulations. You got that promotion you’ve wanted for 2 years. Or you finally got that elite opportunity that only a few people are able to qualify for. Then why aren’t you satisfied? You spend approximately 8 minutes enjoying your new position before you start eying the next bigger and better thing.

THE LIE: It’s always the next achievement that is the one I really wanted and will finally make me feel valuable. 

THE TRUTH: There is no achievement large enough or elite enough to make you feel “special.” This is why the most famous people in the world are some of the most miserable. Wealth and fame were supposed to fill that void but they didn’t.

7. You take criticism from others very personally.

Criticism kills you. You know it shouldn’t but you hate hearing it. You feel like a failure when you’re criticized. You feel like you’ve let the other person down. You feel like you’ve disappointed them. You then revert to point #2 (i.e. criticizing yourself).

THE LIE: If I receive criticism, it means that I’ve failed. Again.

THE TRUTH: Criticism should never break you. Constructive feedback should inspire you. Destructive feedback should be flushed. 

8. You have a RIDICULOUSLY high need to be understood.

“Heavens above! Please don’t think that I said that. That’s only 98% accurate. That 2% might make you think less of me somehow.” Your image must be controlled at all times. To do this, every aspect of your life must be controlled by YOU. That means you can leave nothing up to interpretation or to the imagination.

THE LIE: People are going to misunderstand me if I don't say exactly what I mean and, if they do misunderstand me, I can fix it by explaining myself.

THE TRUTH: No matter what you do, you can't control what other people think. It’s just best to go ahead and accept this. You’ll be surprised how liberated you’ll feel. 

 

Any of that sound familiar? If so, you just might have it in your head that you’re not quite good enough on your own to get love. 

It’s work to undo this kind of thinking and this post is really just to help you identify if you have a bit of a performance thing going on. You’ll need to talk to the Holy Spirit about where you learned this mentality from. It usually will link back to a painful period of time in your life where you experienced rejection. You should forgive that person/those people and move on with your life. I’d also recommend bringing someone you trust in on your process (and don’t ask them if they think you’re so brave for tackling this thing…you know you’re being brave and we don’t need to fish for complements anymore anyway). Having someone walk with you through this will prove invaluable.

In closing, I will leave you with this quote from the ever-so-wise Bill Johnson.

“If you don’t live by the praises of men, you will not die by their criticisms.”