I doubt many individuals read the fine print in a contract, at least not when things are going well. I am like everyone when it comes to this. I barely read the T&Cs of an airline ticket, rental contract, or booking form. Given the number of times that differences have occurred, you might think I would learn, but sadly I haven’t.
As I listened to a friend complain about the fine print when there was a dispute. Evidently the booking on one side was not what the other side received. There was a middleman, so everyone had a scapegoat and a way of proving the point. Given that the middleman is highly automated, I suspect that the clarity of the website, or in this case, lack of, was the real villain. For both, the fine print mattered! In the end, the dispute had a winner and loser.
As I thought about the situation, I found myself reflecting on how easy it is to think that the surface view is what counts. For me, it goes way beyond contracts and agreements. I let a superficial evaluation of success and failure guide my action, forgetting that the real story is found in the details.
As I look at success, in the bigger story it may not stand. The participants may enjoy the first celebration, but will it last? History is filled with temporary victors, short-term winners, and others with five minutes of fame. David words ring in the background; “Before long the crooks will be bankrupt; God-investors will soon own the store.” (Psalm 37.9)
The terms and conditions of your life and mine are important. Whatever we may think they are, the real story is found in our actions and choices. It is a tale found in the steps we take. While the ups and downs along the way are times for celebration and mourning, our hearts hold the real story. I hope that my story is filled with caring, compassion, and community. In the moment at hand I can act to fill in the details.