March 27, 2015

Emmaus Walk / Debra Tomaselli

It’s Lent, but I didn’t plan to make this sacrifice

Debra TomaselliIt’s Lent, and I can tell.

They’re changing the seating arrangements at work, and I have to move. I don’t want to.

Doesn’t’ sound like a big deal, but it is.

First of all, I’m in an office. My new workspace will be a cubicle.

But that’s not the worst part. The problem is that I’ll be losing daily contact with Jeanette, the co-worker who currently shares my office with me.

When we were asked to move into the space last year, we hardly knew each other. That’s since changed.

My day job is in insurance, so what are the odds that I’d end up in an office built for two with someone who is also a writer? Better yet … a devotional writer. Jeanette’s been a blessing. Her faith drives her. She wants to share it, write about it, and live it.

So here we have this office within the office, filled with two devotional writers. A co-worker dubbed our space the “conclave.” We began writing short, faith-based messages on the whiteboard. (Surprisingly, it’s the only office with a whiteboard.)

Sharing the space worked for us. We stayed focused on our work and never annoyed or interrupted each other, but the conversations that arose were rich in faith. We’d help each other with the day’s particular challenges or joys, viewing them through the lens of the Gospel.

Additionally, our office was big enough to host our department’s birthday celebrations or impromptu business meetings. The space took on a life of its own.

Somehow, we thought we’d escape the latest restructure. However, we were wrong.

I know it sounds silly, but the news hit me hard.

Jeanette felt the same way.

“What do you think of that?” she asked, after we learned we’d be losing our office, the whiteboard, the impromptu meetings, and the holy conversations.

I prayed for a positive response.

“I think we had a good run at it,” I said, forcing a smile. We both laughed.

Then we discussed our disappointment, our concerns, and our resistance to the change.

Finally, I looked at her. “You know this is bigger than us, right? This isn’t just a management decision. It’s bigger than that.”

I pointed skyward. “God is orchestrating this. Who knows whose life you’ll affect in your new area? Who knows whose life will affect you?”

She nodded, adding that she was thankful just to have a job.

Gratitude … the true mark of a Christian.

That night, I worked late. Before leaving, I stood before the whiteboard, saddened by the upcoming change, and prayed for just the right words. I knew Jeanette would arrive earlier than me the next morning and read them, but I needed the message as much as she did. Even as the words arose, they strengthened me.

“To everything, there is a time and a purpose,” I wrote.

Jeanette would know the rest. I knew too.

We’re onto a new mission.

(Debra Tomaselli writes from Altamonte Springs, Florida. She can be reached at

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