(Fair warning: do not google “hypoxi” – at least not at work. It’s a European website – they like to show the unclothed, final results).

The moment I received my first Groupon email I knew I was in trouble. I live within my means and don’t generally buy things on a whim, which is why I love coupons, deal hunting and general savvy saving habits my mom taught me. Even if I find myself with skillions of dollars someday, I will still search for discounts and coupon codes (fellas, the line forms to the left :)). But I know that even great offers are not deals if you never would have spent the money anyway.

Being aware of this, my discipline has only allowed for 2 groupon purchases, so it was out of character for me to purchase last weeks “Hypoxi” offer with very little research. Do you want to reshape your body? Um, yes?! Eliminate stubborn fat on your hips? I do! How about wear your high school jeans? Heck, yes!! Then give us your credit card. Ok.

Fast forward one week and I walk in to what looks like Pinkberry for my first “treatment”. No froyo here – only a heavy lady walking slowly on a treadmill, wearing a girdle hooked up to an insane amount of tubes, which I come to find out are vacuums increasing circulation to break up her fat deposits.

Wow. Lady, you need more than a pressurized girdle. You need some good old fashioned celery sticks and Jane Fonda. Take off the science experiment and put on some leg warmers.

Oh, but while I’m snickering to myself, I realize I have my own groupon in hand. The irony was not lost on me. I’ve never felt so ridiculous in my entire life. Standing there wondering what I just signed up for and if I should lea…“Ma’am – we’re ready for you…”

5 minutes later, I’m laying on my back, bicycling in a what looks like a tanning bed, while wearing a spray skirt attached to an airtight space suit that looks like the inside of pizza delivery bag but filled with bubble wrap compressing and massaging the fat on my thighs. 

…and NOW I’ve never felt so ridiculous in my life.

So I laughed. For the next 30 minutes I laughed, (which is hard to do while burrito-d in a contraption I can only imagine the Jetsons “worked out” in) and silently asked myself what possessed me to buy this. I have a healthy body and healthy body image, I enjoy working out, and I’m a hard worker who never takes shortcuts. But yet there I was, feeling like a total fool for thinking (for even a second) that this short cut was really going to work, that a couple of weird vacuuming sessions were going to make my legs long and lean. My answer? I was tired of working so hard at the gym and instead tried a shortcut that did nothing for me and, in fact, prolonged the issue (I couldn’t do a high-calorie burning work out on treatment days).

It’s not a leap to see this metaphor unfolding in lives all around me: it’s no different than the schemer trying to make a quick fortune rather than applying himself in education and diligent work. Or the single girl trying to cure loneliness by forcing a relationship. Or the couple using credit cards to live a faux lifestyle. Or the stay at home mom reading blogs rather than digging into the Word for herself. We think to ourselves “I need to find a short cut to get me to where I want to be because I’m finding it increasingly burdensome to walk this path.“

It doesn’t really occur to us that the long road we may be walking is part of Gods will for our life…or that Gods purpose in our lives might cost us something to be fulfilled. It’s work! Maybe sweat! For us girls, probably some tears!

This is my beat right now. Too many people need to hear the message I heard somewhere recently: “Part of spiritual maturity is to stop thinking that HARD is always BAD and that everything that SEEMS good IS good.” Right here, right now, in this situation, in this season of life, in the face of loneliness or insecurity or financial or medical problems, we cannot invent a short cut to avoid something hard and call it permission to forego the will of God.

Instead, and hear this as GREAT encouragement, God not only is developing long term character in us through whatever we’re facing, but He also has something for us RIGHT NOW. John 10:10 says “I have come so that they may have life and HAVE IT TO THE FULL!” Christ not only guarantees our place in heaven, but He also gives us the opportunity to live filled with HIM, the fruit is His Spirit, on earth. And he puts us in positions over and over again to invite us to do just that.

My thighs might still be a little jiggly, but I’ll tell ya what, I’ll take the stair mill over a bubble wrapped butt any day of the week.

(amd that was just a little Beth Moore Living Beyond Yourself key learning I threw at ya).