"A merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones." Proverbs 17:22 (NKJV)
"Better is a dry morsel with quietness, than a house full of feasting with strife." Proverbs 17:1
"Better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and angry woman." Proverbs 21:19
Did you ever notice how many verses there are in Proverbs that talk about how horrible it is to live with a quarrelsome, contentious, or angry woman? I was actually surprised when I was reading through Proverbs again how often it repeats that it's better to live in the wilderness or on the corner of a roof than to share a house with an angry woman.
It is very easy to fall into complaining... it seems to come naturally. But while complaining may feel like a release at the time, but it only makes you more discontent and unhappy. (This isn't to say that you can never talk to anyone about what bothers you, just don't make a habit of remarking on things that you don't like! Save it for the bigger things so that people will take you seriously.)
Here is my favorite passage in the Bible... Philippians 4:4-8 " Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, 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 minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things." (NKJV)
So, looking at these verses, what are a few principles that we can take out of it to help us not complain?
1. Don't wait until you are consumed by your anxiety... pray right away when something happens to bother you
2. when you pray, give thanks for as much as you can. Try to think of something to be thankful for in the worrisome thing that has happened. If you had a fight with your sister, tell God how thankful you are that He has blessed you with a sister. Think about what you like about her and give thanks for that too. This gets your mind started on an upward slant instead of downward.
3. "Let your requests be made known to God". Tell God what you want!
-Now, what about in everyday life when nothing big and upsetting has happened?
Well, still do what the verse says. It doesn't matter whether the discontent in your heart springs from having something really bad happen or from just not wanting to do the dishes.
I have found that if your request to God is not that the other person would change but that YOU would change, it often is granted. (ie "Thank you so much that we have food to eat so that the dishes are dirty. Please help me to enjoy serving my family.")-
4. Try to see the positive side of whatever is bothering you (Like dirty dishes... if there were no dirty dishes it might mean that you didn't have any food!)
5. Make it a point to say at least five positive things a day out loud about your chores (or whatever you usually complain about)
6. Smile at everyone... offer sympathy when needed, but do it cheerfully. Going around with a frown on your face does not present a very attractive picture of young womanhood.
Remember, most of us have little siblings (or young children of our own) watching our every move. You may not realize it, but whatever you do will have a huge influence over the ones that watch you.
For a long time I was cheerful most of the time, but when I had to clean out the dish drainer I would kind of shake my head and sigh as I went sloooowly to put away the dishes. Not too long ago one of my siblings did the EXACT SAME THING before going to do their chore.
I haven't done that in a really long time, so it really struck me how careful I need to be to model a thankful and joyful heart even when I don't feel like it.
Now this isn't to say that you have to be perfect. I'm far from perfect (big surprise, right?). But it is saying that it is important to realize that you are in a position of leadership whether you like it or not.
Sometimes I get worried about the fact that I am not always a good example of cheerfulness, but then I just have to put the principles in Philippians 4 to work again! :-)