After going to PT for five weeks for “frozen shoulder,” my doctor referred me to a new PT. Mike, my new therapist, told me my condition is tricky. He said any treatment will be difficult, painful, and “may or may not help.” Great. Along with the inability to brush my hair and get dressed,

I may never be able to shave my left armpit again.

The PT exercises I have to do (that “may or may not help,”) hurt. A lot (and I birthed two of my children without an epidural). While I was stretching/crying my husband walked by and asked, “Is that all the further your arm will move???” Every time I’m doing my floor stretches, my dog sneezes on my face at least once. And five exercises, three times each, five times a day, is a lot, too. I feel like I’m stretching every five minutes. When it’s time to stretch again, I’ve taken to calling it, “Time to make the donuts” (Google that if you were born after 1975).

When I went back to PT, Mike asked me if I did my stretches five times a day. (He has no sense of humor, so I didn’t share my donut reference). I told him I did, but he looked me in the eyes and without any acknowledgment of what a disciplined donut maker I was, he said emphatically, “Because doing them twice a day isn’t going to do a thing.”

Since Ash Wednesday, I’ve been reading five Psalms, three times a day. When I prayed about what to give up for Lent, the word meditate kept grabbing my attention. So, rather than giving something up, I decided to read my Bible more frequently to help me do just that. I realized reading the Bible once a day and forgetting it, like stretching twice a day,

wasn’t going to do a thing.

But yesterday, was a bit of a hard day. I still read my Bible three times, but I was struggling with some things. In thinking about that later I realized that like physical therapy, there are no guarantees that reading the Bible will make me better. I will still hurt. Things will still be difficult. And in an honest moment I thought about the fact that reading the Bible, like making the donuts, no matter how often I do it, sometimes feels difficult and pointless, and the results are sometimes inconclusive.

But yesterday, today, and tomorrow, I shall make the donuts. I shall read my Bible thrice daily. Both disciplines will be inconvenient, difficult, require intentionality, and I may not be nicer or more flexible afterwards.

But maybe I will.

The Christian disciplines, like physical therapy for a jacked-up shoulder, don’t feel good, take time, and usually don’t seem to make noticeable differences. But in doing them, I have something I wouldn’t have if I failed to do either. Hope. And although hope sometimes feel cliché, when I’m frustrated, struggling with my limitations, and it’s hard to move,

Hope is everything.