More Than A Bedtime Story
I love the children's book Goldilocks and the Three Bears. As a child I really didn't care about potential life-lessons in the story too much. I didn't spend time thinking about wanting everything "just right," but I was captivated by the idea of her.
Goldilocks and the Three Bears is a story about a little girl breaking into a house owned by a family of bears. She tries eating their food, sitting in their chairs and sleeping in their beds. Each time she tests something out she finds the one thing that is perfect for her and is happy. The Bears come home to find her asleep in the little bear's bed, because it is "just right."
As an adult now it's funny the little stories and sayings that pop up in my head. Our brains really are sponges, constantly making connections to what we read, say, feel and do. Sometimes I use phrasing in my head such as, "Well, look at me being a Goldilocks right now," or "Don't be a Goldilocks, be a Jesus." Cheesy, I know, but it really just happens.
For me, in my brain, a "Goldilocks Moment" is when I am unhappy with a moment in time that is close to perfect, but still leaves me wanting and crying for something more or different. Where my high expectations are not met fully and my requirements for happiness are blocked and I am unhealthily disappointed. I'm sure most of us would consider my Goldilock's moments as "first world problems."
Living life as a Goldilocks is a lifetime of those moments wrapped into a package of unhealthy expectations, misguided desires, constant demands and a string of personal disappointments. Living as a Goldilocks means I am not content because day-to-day living constantly falls short of my sought-after version of my life's story. There are always 'bears' chasing away my 'just right' ideals.
There are times of grieving, of powerful sorrow that is life altering and we need others to take care of us. These are not Goldilocks moments. Those times of immense sadness are more "I need my God, my Savior, my community, my tribe or I'm gonna give up" moments. Those are seasons where lessons are painful and carry weight in the long term. Sharing each others burdens help, and the lessons we learn from those times carry us through and lay foundations for the next time. Life hands us some tough stuff and it becomes necessary to grieve and grow and learn. This makes us stronger, it does not make us a Goldilocks.
One of my favorite definitions of contentment is this - "True contentment and hope are characterized by a willingness to hope for what is good without demanding that it be fulfilled in our own way or in our own time." (Entrust Ministries, DDH). Contentment does not mean I am settling. Contentment does not mean I stop caring. Contentment means I am turning to God to satisfy my emptiness as I thirst for something more. I am turning away from places of false trust, and instead facing the cross with my cares and concerns. This version of contentment does not a Goldilocks make. This version makes a Disciple.
John 17:3 says, "And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent." (ESV) No matter our season of life, the Giver of life never changes. Our one true God knows what drives us and what we thirst for. There truly is no greater answer than a Savior who provides for us with grace and mercy. Who loves us and understands us because he lived as a human. Jesus knows this world is not perfect and yet we long for perfection. Pointing ourselves to our Creator through our Savior is the only way to receive the perfection we truly long for.
Paul said it so well in Philippians 4:4-7; "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
Paul provides wisdom in how to take our mind off of our lack and instead place it on what is true and honorable and good. He continues in Philippians 4:8-9 with, "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me - practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you."
And just so we are reminded how much Paul suffered he says later in verse 11, "Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me."
We all have our Goldilocks Moments. Hopefully, these moments do not rule our lives. When I am focused solely on my comfort I miss God pointing me to the hurt of others. When I focus on personal satisfaction I am not pointed towards the cross, and the cross is what sustains me in this world where perfection is an illusion. Jesus is real and he fills our thirsty hearts and carries our burdens.
Our lives provide moments of great joy and connection, but also moments of deep sorrow. We have times of sadness where we are at out lowest, and moments of intense happiness where our greatest desires are met or exceeded. These highs and lows produce change. Hopefully, gratitude for life well lived with people we love, and an awareness of others suffering and in need of comfort. Everything in life teaches us something. Paul said his low taught him contentment -satisfaction with what God provides without expecting personal comfort above all things.
What is God teaching you? Are there opportunities for growth and change you are missing in your quest for finding the "just right" circumstances? God is after our hearts, in whatever state they are in. Perfection in mind or body is not possible here on earth, we are too broken and our earthly home is too flawed. God knows the hurts we carry, but he also knows all the messed up pieces and parts of our DNA and our mind.
No matter who you are or what you are going through, God knows the deepest parts of you. For some people that feels scary and awful - we want to hide from God. But, not only does he know you, he also LOVES you. Jesus died for me even knowing the worst of me. His grace provides freedom to live contently even when circumstances are far from "just right." It doesn't mean we always make the right decisions, or make perfect choices. That's impossible. But with Jesus I am better at walking through life.
In our abundance, I pray we Christians remember to pay attention to our hearts and minds. I pray we give wholeheartedly. Give grace, kindness, mercy, compassion, love, and resources to those who are hurting. Ours is not the place to judge, but to serve long and serve well. Sometimes serving others means feeling deep hurt alongside them. I pray we all step out into areas of emotional and personal discomfort as we point ourselves in the direction of the cross. Don't be like Goldilocks. Be like Jesus.
Our podcast today is the first in a series of podcasts on Mental Health and the impact of mental health struggles on individuals and relationships. You will hear personal stories as well as some conversations with experts. We hope you are encouraged and motivated by what you hear.