My husband informed me that the NCAA tournament is finally underway. He knew my blog posts for the month were about rivals, so I asked him. “Do rivals ever become friends?” He looked at me for a second–about to shake his head, then smile, “Well, maybe.”
I once had a neighbor. We were friends before my family moved into the house next door. It became clear that not every friend makes a great neighbor. Honestly, it was me who could have done better. I spent way too much time trying to prove myself, justifying my actions instead of simply accepting that we were two very different people. With tons of baggage.
The relationship between Caroline Ingalls and Harriet Oleson is no different. Well… of course Harriet does tend to stir up trouble and say things she shouldn’t, but perhaps it’s because she is more insecure than we think. Harriet’s lifetime of disappointments and regrets have molded the way she interacts with the people of Walnut Grove. Her prejudices are built on negative experiences, just like ours are.
Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.
Proverbs 16:18Harriet Oleson – The Richest Man in Walnut Grove
I love that Harriet, in her most prideful voice, recites this verse to Caroline in the episode “The Richest Man in Walnut Grove.” It demonstrates how utterly hypocritical we can be… even while quoting Scripture.
Mrs. Oleson looks down on others to feel okay about herself. We don’t see it too often, but Harriet does have a softness of heart when her defenses are down—when she puts her pride aside. It’s that place of vulnerability where we gain respect for Mrs. Oleson. When her marriage was suffering in season one’s “Family Quarrel”, Caroline helped Harriet see a new perspective to resolve the conflict and when her business was failing in the episode “Wave of the Future,” Caroline stood beside her to the end. It’s during the hard times that Harriet see Caroline in a different light.
Even rivals can be lifesaving friends when given the opportunity. When we lay aside our pride and the damaging effects that it brings to our friendships, we can experience true connection.
My neighbor isn’t my neighbor anymore. Sometimes a little distance is the best recipe—like Caroline selling her eggs elsewhere for a time. My ex-neighbor and I have figured out how to stop being rivals and start becoming friends.
Do you have a rival who could be a friend, if only your ego was set aside? How could your friendships be even deeper without pride getting in the way?
Until next week, my friends. If you get tired of basketball on the screen check out a few of my favorite episodes, besides The Richest Man in Walnut Grove, from season two:
The Spring Dance, The Talking Machine, and For My Lady.