Externally, I could see the results. I had insight into the deadlines and commitment. Given the multiple data points, I assumed I knew the answer. Lots of data, the results beyond discussion, the path to conclusions clear. My initial assumptions had evolved into clear distinct conclusions.
In a late day debrief, I outlined the situation. As I walked though my analysis, the underlying facts, and the outcomes, my confidence grew. I could not see that I had missed anything. I had seen enough. It was time to act.
“There is more to the picture.”
“Really? My analysis is complete. I cannot see that I have missed anything.”
“You may be right. From what I can see, the picture could have more to it. Do you want to hear?”
My voice hesitated while I reflected. What could I have missed? Even if I missed something, would the additional data points change my conclusion? I was certain my conclusions were truth filled.
As I listened I could see my view reshaping itself into a bigger picture. None of my facts changed, however they were now sitting in a different context. The intent that was so clear earlier was now evolving into something more different. In a way, as I knew less I also knew more. My hard conclusions were rapidly involving into a situation where I could see conflicting motives and actions in each player. In short, a simple view of life had changed to something resembling a normal day in your life and mine.
As I look back at three conversations over the past week, I find that different friends have given me an extraordinary gift. They expanded my vision as they pushed me to see more. In the course of doing that, each has played the role David described to God. “God met me more than halfway, he freed me from my anxious fears.” (Psalm 34.4) I come out of the conversations seeing those around me as individuals struggling with life, doing the best they can. We share many of the same fears and doubts.