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Redding, CA

Singer, songwriter, beard grower.




Website and blog for songwriter Matt Stinton.

The Orphan Heart, Part 2

Matt Stinton


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


“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.”

Breaking up with anxiety, or: What renewing your mind looks like

Matt Stinton


For years I’ve lived with a level of anxiety in my life and, for the most part, I would say I was unaware of its presence. After you’ve had something present in your life for a while, you tend to become blind to its effects. I suppose it’s because we just get used to things.

The Lord began breathing on this area of my life about 2 years ago and gave my wife and I a fire to see it broken off. It’s been a hard journey, to be honest, consisting of tears of frustration and long, difficult conversations on the couch. It has been, however, completely worth it. No one is meant to live with anxiety.

This journey first started with the realization that anxiety was present in my life. It had been a voice I listened to for years and had become so familiar with it that I had accepted it. But all of the damage was about to be undone. With the patience of my wife and the goodness of the Lord on my side (not to mention a few counseling sessions), I began to fight to gain back my peace. All of the momentum I gained over the previous 24 or so months was pushing me toward a single moment. The moment I broke up with anxiety.

It was a simple moment, really, perhaps even a bit odd. A few weeks ago, I was driving my car and felt prompted to call it all off so I did. I spoke directly to my anxiety and said, “I don’t need you. I’ve listened to you for a long time but I can’t anymore. I’ve made you a friend but you’ve never helped me. You’ve never made any aspect of my life better and I can’t live with you any more. As of this moment, I’m ending our friendship. You no longer have access to my mind or my heart and I will never listen to you again.”

There was no clap of thunder or earthquake to accompany this moment. Like I said, it was simple but I felt something shift and the first rays of sunlight started spilling into my heart. I felt joy and excitement where only hopelessness and fear had been.

Sometimes, I believe we become so used to a struggle that we actually become familiar and comfortable with it. We look for it. We expect it to show up. Whether it’s anxiety, shame, rejection or any other struggle, when this level of familiarity happens, we’ve made friends with something very dangerous and disloyal. It will never help us and will never add to our lives. Ending our friendship and dependence on it is vital.

Should you decide to end a relationship like this, fantastic! It might seem silly but there is power behind it. 

If the issues don’t fade immediately, it’s okay. Don’t freak out. There is nothing wrong with you and this is perfectly normal for two reasons.

Here’s the first reason. Our brains are fascinating. Science has shown that pathways are actually created by recurring thought patterns and trauma. This is why whenever you encounter a “trigger” you can find yourself reacting before you’ve even processed what’s happening. The part of your brain than processes logic actually gets bypassed by these pathways meaning that you react or feel an emotion before you’ve had a chance to assess the situation. You hear a certain word or phrase and you react. You get a text message from your boss and you immediately remember the time you missed that meeting and start feeling anxious before you even check to see what the text says.

So what does all of this mean to you? If you’ve dealt with something like anxiety for a while, your brain will naturally fire off the part of your brain that produces anxiety because it’s always done that. In essence, it’s become a habit of your brain. But the amazing thing about our minds is that they can be retrained to form new pathways which will break the association that has been made (you know, the whole “be made new by the renewing of your mind” thing). This can be accomplished by reminding yourself of the truth of the situation. That anxiety is a liar and that the Lord has promised to be your help in all situations. And you do this as many times as it takes. If it takes 1000 times every day, that’s totally fine. It will change. Your inheritance as a child of God is peace and a sound mind.

The second reason is that your mind is the most crucial battleground in all creation and the enemy wants to own it. For thousands of years he has preyed on minds—weaving just enough truth into his lies to keep people bound up by believing that things will never change or that they deserve to be punished. He tries to whisper those lies to all of us but they will only have power in our lives if we listen to them. 

So many of us go through life without realizing that we live with these lies screaming in our ears. 

“You’re not good enough to do this.” 

“This is never going to change and you’ll just have to live with this for the rest of your life.” 

“You’re going to be just like the person who hurt you. See? You’ve hurt people already.” 

Listening to lies like these will keep us living in the realm of anxiety because we will feel trapped and insufficient to break free.

My friend Jason says that you can’t be anxious and trust God at the same time and this is such a true statement! If you fully trust in God, then you’ll remember His promises over your life. These promises are designed to give you hope and will keep your head above water no matter the ferocity of the storm.

Hope is the biggest weapon against the enemy because it stands in direct opposition of his oldest trick: discouragement. You can’t have hope and be discouraged at the same time. They are opposites and cannot co-exist. Hope is the seed of breakthrough. If you have hope then victory is only a matter of time. If you don’t have hope, get some!

I can’t tell you what breaking a friendship like this will look like or feel like for you. You may feel something drastic, you may not feel anything at all. Not having an emotional response is not an indicator that nothing actually happened so don’t get tripped up by that. Often, we don’t live in our breakthrough because it didn’t look or feel the same way it did for someone else. If we don’t think we have breakthrough, we probably won’t live like we do.

Since I broke up with anxiety, I’ve had to remind it several times that our friendship was over. And, if it continues to try sneaking back into my life, I’ll just keep sending it away. Eventually it will get tired of not getting results and will just stop showing up. If I believed these persistent, annoying little knocks on the door of my mind were indicative of my friendship being still active, then I’d let it back in and stay under it’s influence.

Your mind is a battlefield. Love and fear both battle to be the victor and it’s up to you to decide which one will win out. Which voice will you listen to? The voice that builds you up or the one that tears you down? The one that promises life and freedom or the voice that tells you that you’re doomed to a life of captivity? The voice you listen to is the voice you empower and the voice you will serve.

God is about to change everything for you. Know how I know? Because that’s who He is. He is always turning night into day and winter into spring. He is a God of promise and redemption. Whatever you’re dealing with right now, He is bringing the answer. Not only that, but once you have victory, He’s going to give you authority over the problem you’ve struggled with. He’s going to make you a threat to the enemy and is going to use you to break people out of the same bondage you were in. How’s that for revenge?

Now, here’s your first assignment: believe that instead of the voice that tells you it won’t work out for you. You’re not friends with him anymore anyway.