Have you heard people describe their “happy place?” Oftentimes it includes a picture of a beach, the sound of rolling waves, and the feeling of sand between their toes. We can practically sense the serenity! I’ve heard friends describe their “happy place” with great delight, whether it was on the top of a ski slope or on the deck of a cruise ship. However, I have never heard anyone describe their ideal location, the place they long to be, as a hot, humid desert where it is difficult to thrive nor on a corner of the rooftop. Yet in the book of Proverbs, we read that these two places are indeed the more pleasant, the more preferred, the better place to be than with a nagging, contentious, or quarrelsome wife. Wow!
Proverbs 21:19 states, “It is better to live in a desert land than with a contentious and vexing woman.” The desert land is known to be a barren area, one where living conditions are hostile. It is one where people have struggled to live throughout the ages of history because of its harshness. Yet this, we’re told, is a better place to be than with a contentious and vexing woman. To be contentious means “to cause an argument or disagreement, exhibiting a wearisome tendency to argue.” It means when someone says one thing, we say the opposite. It means we argue for the sake of arguing, it is our tendency. And as the definition suggests, it is wearisome, both for us and for those with whom we are interacting. To be a vexing woman means to “make someone feel annoyed, frustrated, or worried, especially with trivial matters.” How easy it is to get into an argument over trivial matters and things that just don’t matter all that much! Perhaps we can see why a hot, harsh, barren land is considered a better place to dwell than with this kind of woman!
We also read in Proverbs 25:24, “Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.” One who lives on the corner of a roof would be exposed to the elements of the weather, making it not only an uncomfortable place but even a dangerous place. This is, again, considered the better option?! Oh how this makes me take a second look at the times I have been, or when I am tempted to still be, quarrelsome!
What does this mean for our lives, practically speaking? Does it mean that we can never express a disagreement, concern, or opposing opinion? No, but as women who love and trust the Lord, let’s make it our prayer to live what we believe; to live as those who are trusting in His love and care for us. This is more about our heart than our words; more about our attitudes than our actions. By His Spirit within us and His grace poured upon us, we can pause before we speak or react. In this pause, we can ask Him for His perspective: is this a trivial matter? In this pause, we can pray and ask the Lord to give us the words to say (or not say!) and the ability to trust the outcome to Him. He doesn’t need our fighting or argumentative words to bring about His purpose in our lives!
As we trust in the Lord’s love and care for us, we will experience His peace. When we have this peace, we can then exhibit peace instead of contentiousness. Instead of being vexing, we become delightful to those around us. Instead of being quarrelsome, we become agreeable, forgiving, and friendly. These sound like characteristics that would bless our families (as opposed to the desert-like or rooftop conditions!) because these sound like characteristics of the Lord Himself! Trusting in His love and care is truly the best “happy place” for both us and our loved ones!
We don’t need to use words or arguments to be in control, because He is in control. We don’t need to fight for our way, because His way is better. We don’t need to contentiously pour our words out to those around us because we have been invited to pour our hearts out to Him. We don’t need to major on trivial things because He sees everything in our lives. He loves us that much. We can be women who trust Him with our very lives, including our interactions with others and the outcomes.
“Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge” (Psalm 62:8).