by Lucy Blomfield
My Sales Representative Charlotte has sold gifts to me for several years. I knew that she had been with her company for a long time. She spoke well of her directors and other colleagues. I had spoken on the phone to her friends in her office from time to time, and had found them to be, like Charlotte, pleasant and efficient.
Recently, at the end of my appointment with her, Charlotte mentioned that someone had left their company - someone who had been with the company a long time. "Some people, " she said, "are irreplaceable."
"Why?" I said. "I mean, I know it's hard. You miss the associate who's left, but you re-organize positions or find a replacement, don't you?"
"I think that's what most companies do," she said. "And, yes we will have to do those things. But with our company, it is a little different. It is difficult to explain, but we have become a part of each other. I know that can sound trite or superficial, but I mean it in a literal way. When someone in our company leaves, it is like a divorce - like a death. And I think that those of us who are left feel that a part of us has died."
"How is it possible for you to be a part of each other in a business?" I asked. "I know this is part of marriage, but it is not possible in a business organization. " As I spoke I was thinking it probably wasn't the norm in many marriages!
"Yes it is," Charlotte said.
"How?" I asked.
"To answer you, I would like to tell you a little about how our business began. Quite a long time ago, about twenty years now, a group of us knew each other in university. What drew us together is in itself another story, but we had a similar outlook on life. We saw the inadequacies and selfishness of our lives. We longed for lives of truth and purpose - lives lived not for ourselves. We had come to know Jesus, in a definite way - which made a life free from ourselves possible."
"We began small businesses, which have changed over the years, but the original purpose has not. Some of us decided to live together in staff residences, and we lived together then and live together now in integrity and purity. And we have so much fun!" she exclaimed and smiled. "We became a family. The years passed, and we were a family - at work and at home."
Charlotte paused, perhaps seeing my puzzled expression. I found myself a little lost - trying to understand what she was talking about!
"We have deep ties of love and loyalty to each other. This was because of Christ's love within us, not because of something a home or business or human discipline could create. However, the years together have made a difference - time together putting self aside does make a difference! Those of us who are a part of this bond know it - perhaps in the way you can "know" you are in love with someone - you just "know!" To know in this way is humbling - it is a precious miracle. We, therefore, could not leave each other, anymore than we could "leave" ourselves or "leave" Jesus."
"So how, then," I asked, "Could that person have left you?"
"I'm not sure," Charlotte said, "Because I do not know the private thoughts of the person who left. There is a verse in the Bible which says, '...for I said before, that you are in our hearts, to die together and to live together.' This is Paul speaking about the early Christians - the Body of Christ. Perhaps the person who left us did not know this union - that is what I think. If only he could have known this Oneness, then he would not have left."
Charlotte paused again, and I sat trying to understand. Then she had to go, ...and I had to get back to work. But I would like to talk to her more about this - another time.
Return to Table of Contents