By Summer Stevens
I watched him walk up the stairs to our room. It was the third weekend in a row we’d had a stupid argument, and this one was on me and we both knew it. I flopped onto the couch and sighed in frustration.
Immediately a verse flashed into my mind: “A wise woman builds her house, but the foolish one pulls it down with her hands” (Prov 14:1).
That’s quite a picture—a wild-eyed woman tearing and clawing at the very bricks that protect her from the elements, heaping them into a pile. She’s hurting herself, and she knows it, but she can’t seem to stop. And at the end of the day, she has to return to that broken-down mangled house and live in it.
I don’t want to live in that house. No woman does. Every married woman I know wants a strong marriage, a happy home, and a life of purpose. Yet I allow little destructive behaviors, thoughts, and words into the most sacred places and relationships.
What does it mean to pull down your house, and why do women do this? More importantly, how can we be wise women who build our houses?
First, we must ask the question, what is my house? I am going to propose that our house is our domain of domestic responsibility and authority. How we build or tear down impacts those with whom we live.
Here are five ways we tear down our house:
1 By not being a gatekeeper. There is something significant that happens when someone crosses the threshold of our home. What happens inside our home is our responsibility. Women must be the gatekeepers to guard what types of influences we allow in. Many husbands trust their wives in this arena, so while he is ultimately responsible for his home and family, women can and should provide the first level of defense.
First, examine movies and music and books. We must be diligent here! Not only for children’s media but also for our own. I’ve had to put down an intriguing book series because there was an element of witchcraft woven into each story, and I felt convicted about bringing that into my mind and into my home. When I allow influences into my home that I know don’t honor God, I am not only hurting my fellowship with Jesus, but I’m doing damage to the atmosphere of the house that I have the privilege of building.
As gatekeepers, women also determine what types of attitudes we let through. Are we a family that gives the silent treatment? Do we use sarcasm? Do we explode over little things? Ladies, even if you work outside the home, the home is your domain—you get to control what passes through your door.
Build your house: Ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom and discernment to guard your house from destructive influences and for the strength to make changes.
2 By cutting down our husbands. This is the primary way most women tear down their house—by tearing down their husband. He doesn’t help enough; he doesn’t talk enough; he doesn’t listen; he works too much; he doesn’t work enough; he’s not like my friend’s husband; he’s not like my dad; he’s just like my dad. As the proverb says, “It is better to dwell in a corner of a housetop, than in a house shared with a contentious woman” (Prov 25:24). The wise woman builds up her house by building up her husband. It doesn’t matter how great everything else is, if you have a contentious relationship with your husband, no one wants to be in that house.
God has given your husband to you as your protector, so let him protect you. His presence and provision are the essential elements of the bricks of your house, and when you criticize and cut him down, or when you will not trust his decisions, you remove yourself from his protection and make your house weak.
Build your house: If you have a habit of cutting down your husband, the easiest way to make a change is to start thanking him for big things and little things every day. If your criticism of him is mostly in your head, make an agreement with yourself to arrest those thoughts, and every time a negative thought comes, replace it with three things about him that you’re thankful for (2 Cor 10:5).
3 By allowing discontentment to creep in. A few years back I started watching HGTV. There was something so satisfying about watching a boring home transform into something sparkling and stylish in under an hour. I was hooked. The more I saw other people’s successful projects, the less appealing my own kitchen appeared, and the more interested I became in fixing it up. I would spend hours looking on Pinterest, and then I signed up for Instagram and it got even worse. When we decided to remodel our own “boring” house, my online searches became even more frenzied. I knew my time investment in redoing my kitchen had gone beyond proper stewardship, but by this point I was too far into it to back out. It’s not that the remodel itself was a sin, but my discontentment was. All I could see in my house was what was plain or outdated. I got a beautiful kitchen, but I failed to see the fullness of the beauty of Jesus in that season of life. My relationship with Him was stagnant. I was so thankful when Jesus rescued me from that mentality and restored my perspective. (And we moved into another dated house, but I’m so thankful for my home and the people in it that I’m not consumed by a desire to fix it.)
A foolish woman tears down her house when she allows discontentment to cloud the beauty and provision of God. This isn’t just about your physical house; discontentment can seep into any arena of life, from relationships to church life to body image.
Build your house: Remember, you are a critical part of your house. You set the tone in your home for the rest of your family. May we be women of profound contentment and praise! “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Josh 24:15).
4 By neglecting our house. You might be thinking that this contradicts point 3, but obsession and maintenance are two different things, and they originate from different places in our souls.
Whether you rent a tiny city apartment or own a sprawling estate, women have the privilege of creating the culture of the home. What kind of home do you envision? Is it one of peace and
tranquility, where people come to rest and rejuvenate? Or is your home a place of joy, creativity, and laughter? Perhaps you value hospitality, making guests feel welcomed over a meal shared
or a guest room thoughtfully prepared. The foolish woman does not consider her house a thing of value and therefore not worthy of care. I’m not talking only about the four walls, I’m talking about what her home means to her family and beyond. Do you take time to intentionally cultivate the atmosphere of your home, to make it a place of safety and renewal and love for your husband, your children, your guests and yourself? If not, why not? Where do you and your loved ones go to have these needs met if not at home?
Build your house: With input from the members of your family, take time to describe the home you envision for your family, and make a list of a few things you can do to make that home a reality. If kids’ activities, work, or volunteering have so crowded your life that you have no time to devote to “home-making,” consider reducing your commitments.
5 By starving the builder. Jesus frequently spent time alone with God to rest and recover from the demands of discipling grown men, and somehow as moms we think we can handle the all-encompassing needs of dependent children and run a home without taking care of our own bodies and souls. A builder cannot continue to build if he is starving. Here is the hard truth—we will tear down our house if we do not order our life. If we are physically or spiritually depleted, everything and everyone in our house suffers.
Build your house: Prioritize your time to allow for physical and spiritual restoration—time in the Word, time alone to pray, think, journal, or be still, time to exercise, time for daily hygiene, time for romance, and time to play with your kids.
Summer Stevens is married to Nathanael and they have five children. She has a Master’s in Biblical Studies from Dallas Theological Seminary and enjoys running (but mostly talking) with friends and reading good books to her kids.