“It is better to live in a desert land than with a quarrelsome and fretful woman.”
A few of us females in the house, by shrewd observation and naturopathic testing, have come to discover that certain foods are a diabolical enemy to our mood and therefore, our family’s well-being. No bloating or toilet trauma for these girls. No, it couldn’t be that benign. Certain foods produce in us what I like to call an “Emotional Anaphylaxis.” We’ll define that as an “acute emotional reaction with dangerous implications for people in the immediate vicinity of the sufferer. Especially siblings.”
As a result, I’ve become one of those people who brings her own special brownies to events. And I simply don’t eat certain foods anymore because I love my family. But on a Friday night, after spending a longer time than planned at a theme park with one of my girls, we were out of our “carefully-planned-so-we-don’t-need-a-second-mortgage-to-buy-the-food-there” cooler supply. We wanted to prolong the lovely time we were having and since that required sustenance, we decided to buy subs. Sub sandwiches contain one or two of my enemy foods and though it seemed the relationally correct thing to do at the time, I knew we would pay.
My emotional anaphylaxis is not immediate, but manifests itself over the following two days. Day 1: Exhaustion. As in “I feel 9-months-pregnant, I have to nap or I’ll die” exhaustion. Day 2: Sadness and Intense Irritation. Though I’m trying to be holy so I won’t, I truly want to rip your head off or dissolve into a puddle of tears because my usually sweet life suddenly seems utterly awful & overwhelming.
Fast-forward two days. It’s Sunday and we were at the peak of my deteriorated emotional condition. I had survived the morning teaching the Sprouts class and though I came out with an eye twitch, there were no incidents that needed to be reported to our church’s abuse insurance company. Glen could see my visible struggle to keep it together all afternoon and we were now getting ready for dinner guests. They called to say they would be a little late and I was happy about the traffic delay because, though I had cut the lawn earlier, I hadn’t had time to sweep off the patio. The delay gave me that time so I turned to Glen and said, “I’m going to go get the broom.” With a twinkle in his eye he replied, “Oh. Are you going for a ride?”
Don’t worry. We are still married. It was actually a marvelous moment. All I could do was laugh in spite of my emotional state and concede that his statement was both funny and fair.
Why do I tell you that story? Because as funny as that incident is, a lot of men and children are dealing with women who act like that every day. The Bible gives us a little peek into the secret thought life of family members who live this reality and we would all be wise to use this warning as an incentive to evaluate the atmosphere we are creating in our homes.
Proverbs 21:19 says, “It is better to live in a desert land than with a quarrelsome and fretful woman.” That means that if we are women prone to cause arguments or live our daily lives annoyed, frustrated & worried, our hubbies and kids may find the desolation and discomforts of a wilderness more desirable than our continued company.
Sobering? It was for me a couple years ago. Now in all honesty, I had glossed over this verse and the other one like it (Prov. 21:9) because I am not a quarrelsome woman. I don’t pick fights. I like to make peace. I would read that verse and pity the men who lived with such women.
However, the word “fretful” jumped out at me for the first time and I realized I wasn’t exempt from this possibility. Fretful or vexed means “annoyed, frustrated, worried or irritated.” Hmmm. Yep. I think that’s me on more days than I care to admit. I’m not worried as in wringing my hands and fearful that something bad will happen.
- But I can live irritated. “I just cleaned up the garage. Why I am the only one who seems to put things back where they belong?!”
- I can live frustrated: “Who used my expensive flour for this ‘experiment’? Do you know how much I pay for that?”
- I can live annoyed. “Why is my hand sticking to the fridge handle? Who didn’t put a new bag in the milk jug?” (Yes American friends, our milk does come in bags.)
- I can live worried. “No I can’t sit down yet. There are too many things I didn’t get done today that I need to get done before I can relax. You all watch the movie together and I’ll slave away to finish my never ending motherly duties because my work day doesn’t end at 5:00.”
Can you relate?
That’s not to say that we shouldn’t have calm conversations where we train our children and talk about what we can all do as a family to serve one another and help keep home a peaceful and inviting place to be. But instead of carefully timed conversations that teach, we spit barbs, we peck, we inflame, we berate, we belittle and we play the martyr. Should we be surprised that the stillness of a barren desert sounds attractive? If we were really honest, some of us would have to agree that we would go crazy living with someone like us. I’ve thought that about myself on more than one occasion.
I’m writing about this verse because it’s one of the areas in my life I’ve talked to the Lord about most over the last few years. Being task-oriented, a lover of order and passionate about finishing, my life as a mother and wife means that most of those desires are thwarted on a daily basis. I don’t find it easy to balance roles, responsibilities & relationships without fretting in some way.
I haven’t come up with the magical secret, though I’ve been praying God would give me one if it’s out there. He hasn’t offered me that yet, but He offers me help and grace in my struggle when I fail. Again. And he’s given me ample wisdom and motivation in the Bible which means that’s probably all I need.
This verse is one of my favorite motivators on this subject because I love my family. I want to show them God’s goodness through my character and love for them as played out in my home every day. I don’t want to fret and fuss to the point that they fantasize about escape. Where they think that living in desolate places would be better than living with me. I’m sure you desire the same thing. So let’s take the time to evaluate how attractive our home lives are before our families start looking for one way tickets to Arizona.