This is a short story I wrote when thinking about the word 'zeal.' The definition of which is having 'great energy or enthusiasm in pursuit of a cause or an objective.' Having been meditating on my own life, I have been meditating on what I have really 'zeal' for. At the bottom of this story, there is a comment about the zeal I, as a Christian, should look to have after God. But this story challenges us really, whatever our belief system, whether we should more zealous for a career and looking successful to others, rather than being zealous after relationships and the things that really matter?
Tina and Her Zeal
“I’m still on 25.” Josie said as she pulled the chain of her silver necklace back and forth across her chin, the shimmer of its metal reflecting in the glass of her empty martini glass.
“It’s just crazy that.” Isabel responded as she downed the last of her cosmopolitan; her long curls flicking behind her as she tipped her head back. She swallowed gracefully. “I got a pay rise after a year. You’ve been there almost two.”
“Yeah being in London, you should be on more.” Tina leant forward, joining Isobel’s bandwagon, as she always did. She sipped delicately at her paper straw, now turning soggy in her mouth. Its uncomfortable taste was quite in keeping with the bitterness she felt. She wasn’t going to mention her salary. It wasn’t worth the hoo-ha. They’d only end up convincing her to get a grip and have the conversation with her boss. She knew she’d rather sip through thousands of wet straws before placing herself in that situation. This one, though, was starting to disintegrate in her mouth. Bits of paper would soon be joining the springs of mint floating in her mojito. She took the straw out and placed it on the table next to the sticky faced, brightly coloured menu.
“I’ll just see what happens.” Josie said, quite indifferent. That was her usual demeanour. Acting like things weren’t a big deal when, Tina suspected, they really were.
“I’m getting another. Anyone?” Tina shook her head at Josie, already filling the effects of mixing her drinks. Cocktails were lethal. Too many times had it gone badly for her. They never tasted quite as sweet and fruity as they’d made their way back up. That wouldn't look good, they weren't in university anymore.
Isobel asked for another cosmo and Josie headed to the bar, walking across the empty dance floor. The tacky disco lights danced around on her back. She was wearing a lightweight black, turtle neck top, tucked neatly into a blue suede skirt with a zip up the front. It was just the right balance between modest and attractive. Tina knew she could never find that line. She’d always aim for it, throwing everything out of her wardrobe before then just reverting to a nice blouse with black jeans. It was a classic combination. Safe. Unjudgeable.
Her and Isobel sat in silence for a moment as Isobel tapped on her phone. Tina briefly looked over her shoulder as they sat side by side in the leather upholstered booth. She could see Isobel’s fake nails composing a WhatsApp message to the boy she’d been talking to. Tina wondered how serious it was. Serious enough for his name to be followed by a heart, she noted.
Isobel sighed, and quickly placed her phone face down to the table. She started to sway her shoulders in time to the moderately loud music. They’d never been the closest. It was Josie that kind of glued them together. Tina often felt jealous that it was Isobel who also got a job in London and not her. She didn’t mind still being in the at home in Yorkshire. Actually, she rather liked it. It was just hard to watch those two get closer, and quickly more accomplished, without her. She also imagined Isobel enjoyed a night out in London much more than this average evening. Her suspicions were confirmed by the bored look Isobel was carrying as she picked up her phone again. For instance, Tina assumed they’d probably be chatting to a group of well-to-do lads in some swanky, overpriced bar boasting chandeliers and ornate wine glasses, rather than sitting silently in a ripped-seat booth in a cheap, run down Slug and Lettuce the brand had clearly neglected. She knew that was properly stereotypical. All of London wasn’t glitz and glamour. Though she reminded herself she’d never been invited down there to know any different. Yet she still strained herself to hold onto their friendships. She didn’t really know why. She'd just have to keep trying with those London job interviews. She wouldn't tell them how many rejections she'd got. Screw it, she thought, calling over to Josie for another drink.
When thinking about this word ‘zeal’, God reminded me of the parable of the lost sheep. It teaches us, of course, about how zealous God is for sinners and that He will go to the ends of the earth to find us and chase after us. However, there is something else in this. What if we turned the parable on its head? What if we are looking for the lost sheep? It says in Luke 15:4 that the man ‘went after the one which is lost until he finds it.’ I always remember watching cartoons of this parable in Sunday School. They would depict the man going above and beyond to find his lost sheep, battling through the wilderness, looking under every rock and around every corner. Whilst they exaggerated what was specified in the bible, it does highlight the zeal the man had to find his sheep - he.did.not.stop. Until he found it. This is similar to Tina in our story. She had a real zeal and passion to find the job she was looking for - one she believed had been stolen from her, one that she believed she deserved. A high-flying career was her lost sheep.
What is your lost sheep? What are you striving for and is it the right thing?
God challenged me on this; rather than striving after always getting stuff done or looking good to others, He has given me a new zeal for Him and His kingdom.