Breaking the Trap of the Goldilocks Pattern

October 8, 2023

There’s a trap to which we easily fall prey when we follow the pattern of the majority of people around us. Like in the children’s story of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears,” Goldilocks sought what was just right. The oatmeal was either too hot or too cold, the bed was either too hard or too soft, etc. She had to have things “just right.” Likewise, people complain about the weather being too hot or too cold, too wet, or too dry, etc. The Goldilocks pattern is never being satisfied, and therefore never being grateful but always finding fault because things are not “just right.” Do you ever find yourself in that complaining, “non-grateful” pattern?

1 Thessalonians 5:18 (ESV) — 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

When we take on the “nothing is just right” attitude, we sin because we are murmuring and complaining against God and His word is clear that He expects us, even demands us to be grateful.

James 4:17 (ESV) — 17 So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.

When you read the account of God delivering the children of Israel from the bondage of Egypt and leading them by Moses into the promised land you read of their murmuring and complaining over and over. Not once was God pleased with their murmuring and quite often their murmuring brought a judgment of discipline because it was in direct opposition to the call to obey Him and trust Him completely.

Psalm 106:25 (ESV) — 25 They murmured in their tents, and did not obey the voice of the Lord.

Think about how selfish the Goldilocks pattern is. Satisfaction is all about selfishness based on what you feel is “just right” and never considering how your “just right” may impact others and how God has a purpose for any “less than just right” condition in your life.

Many years ago as a radio announcer, I read the forecast of another sunny day with great enthusiasm but was quickly chided by a caller who was a farmer whose crops in the ground were suffering for a lack of rain. It’s easy to overlook the fact that conditions that are “just right” for us may not be so perfect for others.

It’s also easy to overlook the fact that God is in control and all His ways are perfect in the carrying out of His plan.

Deuteronomy 32:4 (ESV) — 4 “The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he.

God providentially governs His creation in an organized way. He has a purpose for everything and everything goes according to His purpose. Therefore, to murmur and complain about anything is really a complaint against God, proclaiming that He is not doing a very good job of governing things in the world. Why do we say that? Because things are not “just right.”

It’s amazing how the negativity of murmuring and complaining spreads so quickly and is so easily received and repeated. My wife and I workout at a local outdoor pool and through the hot summer the pool water temperature has been higher than most would consider comfortable. As you might expect, it’s the topic of most conversations. Even after a rain the night before which drops the pool temperature to a near desirable temperature, some complain that it won’t stay long. 

The point is murmuring and complaining spreads and creates mayhem.

Exodus 16:2–3 (ESV) — 2 And the whole congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, 3 and the people of Israel said to them, “Would that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”

From one person to a mob, to totally forgetting what God has done, to speaking against God – murmuring and complaining can start a wildfire of rebellion and tragedy.

Stop the madness! Goldilocks’ “just right” attitude is not a pattern in which to be trapped, it sends you spiraling down into the depths of bitterness, it wrongly impacts others, and can be the cause of even worse things. Instead, consider the word of God:

Philippians 2:12–16 (ESV) — 12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. 14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.

Please note that the above passage follows the account of the Lord Jesus Christ humbling Himself to become a man, then suffering death on the cross, as now God has exalted Him. Therefore, we ought to be ready to obey as we work out what God has worked within us, namely salvation. If that includes situations that are not “just right” so be it. We are not to murmur and complain, instead we are to display the fact that we are God’s children of which there ought to be a difference between children of God and the world. That should be motivation to get out from under the trap and the next step to take, which, by the way, is also a command from God is to be grateful in all circumstances.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 (ESV) — 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

The time to act is now. Come out from the trap that has a hold on just about everybody with which you come in contact today, to say nothing of the standard on media. You don’t have to be trapped by the Goldilocks pattern. Give glory to God amid your circumstances and watch what the power of gratitude will do for you. It takes discipline, but discipline makes the difference in all aspects of life.


Bob Brubaker, Pastor