Weekly Devotions for 1/17

Check back next week for a devotion.

“Glory to God, who is able to do far beyond all that we could ask or imagine by his power at work within us; glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus for all generations, forever and always. Amen.” – Ephesians 3:20-21 (CEB)

This past week was my sixth week of physical therapy for my ankle. I sprained it in October and had a boot for a month. After the month, the doctor switched me to a brace and three days a week of physical therapy. He said that by the end he expected that I would be able to do all of the everyday tasks. Since the beginning of December, then, I have been going three times a week to see the physical therapist. At the beginning I could only manage 45 minutes of exercises; for the past few weeks it has been closer to an hour and fifteen minutes each time. Every week a few new exercises were added. After a few weeks, I realized that with each new exercise, the first time I tried it my ankle felt like it was crumpling beneath me. I was able to do it, but it felt like my whole foot was shaking uncontrollably. Yet, the therapist would watch me carefully try it out, see that I was barely able to do it, and then tell me to do three sets of ten of that same exercise before walking away, trusting that I would be fine. Each time I was amazed that by the end of the first set my ankle felt fine doing this new exercise. It was just a matter of making it through the first couple of times and then my body adjusted.

Five weeks in and I was mostly doing very well. I was taking in all of the new exercises and not having issues with them. In most ways I felt much stronger. The one issue I continued to have, though, was walking down stairs. Mostly I was walking down one step at a time. Occasionally, I could walk more normally down the stairs, but my ankle felt shaky so I did not do it very much. It occurred to me this past week, though, that this was just like the other exercises. It felt shaky at first, but if I pushed through the first few times my body would adjust. I went to a staircase with good handrails on each side and forced myself to do five laps up and down. By the end, I was walking down the stairs with confidence. I am not quite back to full strength, but I have been able to walk down the stairs without issue since then. It was just a matter of getting through the discomfort of the first few times.

Not everyone is in the place physically to regain strength in quite that same way, but more generally I think there is something to learn about expanding to new things. Those things might be physical, but they could also be mental or emotional. Often times the hardest part of doing something differently is getting through the first few times. After that we adjust. We are able to do things that we did not realize we were capable of doing. We must be comfortable enough with discomfort to know the difference between what injures us and what is an adjustment to something different. If we can recognize the discomfort that opens us to new capabilities, we can face those discomforts more boldly and trust that the moment of discomfort will be rewarded by what lies on the other side. This includes our life of faith. So often the hardest part is trusting God enough to take whatever step is in front of us. Once we do that, it can be amazing the unexpected things that God might do in our lives. We may indeed be empowered to do things we had not imagined we were capable of doing.