The stories were distinct. A wide range of individuals, managers, line staff, and support personnel independently told her/his chapter. The chapters repeated themselves with an eerie consistency. I knew this was a problem.
In the back of my mind there was a quiet whisper that I should not rely on the way I was hearing the stories. I gently looped back with many, asking the obvious and less so. What was the context? Who was present? Were there circumstances that they may have forgotten to include?
It took some time to sit down with the storytellers. While there were missing pieces in each story, the additions reinforced the conclusion that I was facing a significant challenge. I was certain that this was a headache waiting for the right moment to make its appearance.
It is easy to reach a conclusion. It is equally easy to cynically dismiss a contrarian conclusion as being uninformed. Life demands that we have a view. Even when we do not think we have one, there are decisions to be made that pivot on our perspective and thoughts about the other. The reality that metaphorically I was saying “the only thing we know about this Christian sect is that nobody seems to have anything good to say about it,” (Acts 28.22) is a blunt statement of reality. There is no way that I can personally test every alternative. I must rely on the stories of others. If I trust, it is easier. Regardless it will be the foundation for my decision.
In time, we met. My guard was up. Every sensor was on high alert. This was an adversary that I needed to deal with. The only question in my mind was “how”.
I look back and wonder why I wasted my emotions. Even if the stories were true for others, why did they have to be true for me? Was I open to the idea that there was even more to the story?
In our first moments together, I found myself listening. His story resonated with mine. I discovered a friend.