A couple of weeks ago there was a talk in church about going through trials. Honestly, the speaker was a bit boring so I can’t share anything he said but it did get me thinking. The first thing I thought about when he started talking was Sisyphus.
If you are not familiar with the Greek tale – Sisyphus was condemned and when he went to Hades he had to spend eternity rolling a rock up a hill. Once he reached the top, the rock would roll back to the bottom. Many people use this example when they feel like they do the same thing over and over with no results. I’ve been using that example working in the store. I feel like I spend all my time sorting and organizing inventory that I don’t have time to do anything else.
From there I started to realize that this example appears quite often. Not exactly the rolling of the rock but the idea of trials and hell. I realized that hell is often depicted as a place where we are stuck – reliving the same moment over and over. Stories are full of trials but only heroes overcome. Only heroes climb their way out of hell.
The more I thought about this and relived some of my favorite myths, I realized that, while many people have seen hell as a place of fire and brimstone, hell really is the place where we can’t overcome. It’s the place where we are stuck.
We need trials – they help us grow and become stronger/smarter. Without trials, we can’t become heroes. We’re just secondary characters in someone else’s story.
I’ve come to realize that hell can be an everyday occurrence or a place we visit on a regular basis. I know I find myself in hell more often than I’d like to admit but I also know that when I push myself to step outside of the gates, I am a better person. When I finally get that rock over the crest and down the other side, I have a moment to stop and enjoy the view. That doesn’t mean me and the rock are done because that’s not the way the story goes.
If I don’t roll the rock up the next hill, then I’m stuck. While it might be a beautiful place to be stuck, there will come a day when I no longer notice the view and begin to curse the lack of shade. So I take a little time, enjoy the scenery and make my way down to the rock. While, in this scenario, life cycles between pushing the rock up the hill and seeing the world from the top but it also moves forward. There will come a day when I no longer have hills or my rock splits. New challenges will come and my life will alter to meet them.
I think the message in all this is that we need trials but we can’t allow them to keep us stuck. Being stuck is hell. While we have no idea what happens when we die (we can guess but we don’t KNOW), I believe that we can glimpse days of heaven and days of hell. It’s what we do when that day is over that makes a difference. I, also, think it’s what we do when other people have those days. While everyone has their own rocks to roll, pushing them up the same hill at the same time can make all the difference.
I’d love to hear your thoughts.