Ten Year Challenge

I’ll tell you what, internet culture is a fascinating thing.

The way in which viral trends can literally sweep the globe in a mere matter of minutes is nothing short of miraculous.

Everything from planking, to gangnam style, to the ice bucket challenge, to KiKi-ing, to the mannequin challenge…it seems like every couple of months, a new craze is flashing across our desktops, each one more ridiculous than the next.

Photo: Voolas

Well, if you’ve spent any time online in the last week, you know that, yet again, another fad is making the rounds. This time, originating on ye olde Book of Faces…The 10 Year Challenge.

If you’ve somehow missed it, people are sharing photos of themselves, from 10 years ago, along side a recent photo from today, to see “How Hard Aging Hit You.”

Photo: Harper’s Bazaar

And while some conspiracy theorists are saying that this is just a data mining ploy for facial recognition software advancement, you can’t deny: there has been some pretty premium content, as a result. I mean, some of the photos celebrities are posting are pretty priceless.

Phtot: RyanSeacrest Instagram

But I’m going to be honest: sitting here as a young woman, who has been in recovery from anorexia for ten years now — looking back at old photos, and going back to that time — it’s a painful exercise.

Because even though my recovery is thriving, and I am embracing the abundance of joy and life that God is calling me to, there is still a lot of pain in my past. And even though I have been forgiven and freed, looking at it — literally in the face — is not something I want to do, let alone blast on the internet.

Close the doors that lead to nowhere. - BeautyBeyondBones From her MUST READ post, Ten Year Challenge #10yearchallenge #edrecovery #recovery #faith #catholic #quotes

But, of course, as often happens, my curiosity got the best of me, and I found myself one chilly weekday night, scrolling through my private Facebook albums, hidden in the dungeon under lock and key, and looking at my photos from ten years ago.

And it wasn’t fun. I’m not going to sit here and tell you that, Oh, I had this earth shattering experience that resulted in me billboarding it across social media that I LOVE ME! 

Because…no, that didn’t happen. The fact is, the photos I saw – they were of a girl, fresh out of inpatient treatment, and in the midst of a relapse.

Relapse is a really scary word, that I don’t often talk about. Probably because of my struggle with pride, but I hate to admit that I “failed” that first round of recovery. Or maybe because I’m afraid that people will think I could relapse again. I don’t know. And to that end, I will just say that, I think that relapse is nothing to be ashamed of. Recovery is a marathon, and a journey. And I personally believe that relapse is part of the process. You’re going to have hiccups and slip ups, but that doesn’t mean that you’ve failed. It means that you’re trying. And getting up the next morning, and rededicating yourself to your recovery is part of the growing process.

Something will grow from what you are going through, and it will be you. - BeautyBeyondBones From her MUST READ post, Ten Year Challenge #10yearchallenge #edrecovery #recovery #faith #catholic #quotes

My relapse, it was more than just a hiccup. It was an entire semester of my first attempt at college in South Carolina, where, arguably, my anorexia gripped me tighter than before. And not only did my weight and health plummet, but my hair fell out again, for the second time.

So looking at those photos of my hairless, hurting, self, I felt a sense of deep sadness, for the destructive life that girl thought she deserved.

But then, as He so often does, the Holy Spirit swooped into my heart, before I could start down that terrible road of “coulda/woulda/shouldas.” And I don’t really know how else to say it, so just…here’s what was placed on my heart:

There is so much more to my story, than can be captured in a stupid Facebook post of my two photos pinned, side by side.

BeautyBeyondBones - the difference recovery makes. The difference Jesus makes. #10yearchallenge #edrecovery #wellness
Sick vs. Healthy

There is so much life that was lived. So many lessons learned. So much growth that occurred between those years that no photo could ever, ever be able to capture.

Some progress can't be captured in a photo. - BeautyBeyondBones From her MUST READ post, Ten Year Challenge #10yearchallenge #edrecovery #recovery #faith #catholic #quotes

I feel like I have lived a thousand lifetimes in that 10 year span!

The woman today is a result of the challenges and trials I went though – The relationship I established with our Father – The surrender to His plan – The plodding and trudging through the mud of hard work that is recovery.

In that ten year span, I had the incredibly difficult task of restoring my then osteopenic, severely malnourished, and nearly destroyed body. The road to becoming the healthy young woman I am today – was a long and arduous process, that only through Jesus’s help was I able to do.

In those then years, I’ve learned how to take care of myself. Not only have I fallen in love with nourishing my body, but I’ve adopted a therapeutic diet that has healed that Ulcerative Colitis, and I am now in my 7th year of remission, symptom and medication free.

And I’ve found peace with my story! And have embraced it to the point of sharing it with others in a book, with the hopes of helping even one person.

None of those things can be seen in that photo of a sick, hopeless, and terrified girl who is hiding behind a smile, and hanging on for dear life.

And most importantly, none of that growth could have been possible, without one very important person: Jesus.

You are a new creation. The old has gone. The new has come. - BeautyBeyondBones From her MUST READ post, Ten Year Challenge #10yearchallenge #edrecovery #recovery #faith #catholic #quotes

It was only until I gave my recovery to Him, and surrendered all my fears and anxieties into His hands, that I left the eating disorder – and the desire to relapse – behind for good. It was His comfort – His strength – His guidance that I clung to in those moments where I felt I could not go on another day.

I young woman I am today: she’s a fighter. She’s an overcomer. And together, with Jesus, we’ve clawed tooth and nail to emerge from the pit of hell I was in, depicted in that photograph.

There is nothing I will face today, that Jesus & I cannot get through, together.

You, too, friend, are more than your photographic history.

There is a depth to you that cannot be captured in an image, because you are a dynamic, soulful, work of art, that is constantly being shaped by the Father’s masterful hands.

He is never finished. No story is ever over. It has only just begun. Let’s look ahead to the next ten years, and pray for the transformation that He will facilitate in our lives, one day at a time.

You are allowed to be both a masterpiece and a work in progress, simultaneously. - BeautyBeyondBones From her MUST READ post, Ten Year Challenge #10yearchallenge #edrecovery #recovery #faith #catholic #quotes

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Don't start today with the broken pieces of yesterday. Today is new. - BeautyBeyondBones From her MUST READ post, Ten Year Challenge #10yearchallenge #edrecovery #recovery #faith #catholic #quotes

187 responses to “Ten Year Challenge”

  1. What an amazing post!! You know what? You are a walking miracle! One word came through loud and clear as I was reading this – grace! Some people capitalize it because it is soooooo important. Grace. You are a walking testimony to God’s grace! Hallelujah!

  2. I have to tell you again that I am so proud of you and the Holy Spirit within us both smiles when I ponder the bravery and humbleness you took up to journey to recovery and I praise God for helping you through it. You have helped so many as a result, taking something horrible and making it something beautiful, my beautiful friend. As always, I love you. Hugs!😄❤

  3. That was good, it takes a lot to be able to share like that. You are right also, surrendering all to Jesus and allowing Him to take control, He gives us the strength and help that we need day by day! I don’t know what I would do without Him in control and His strength to go through each day. Thanks for sharing this with us.

  4. “The woman today is a result of the challenges and trials I went though – The relationship I established with our Father – The surrender to His plan – The plodding and trudging through the mud of hard work that is recovery.”
    Powerful statement. Thank you. And yes, Caralyn, you are that woman. Know what? You also were that woman 10 years ago. You didn’t know it or recognize it or want it or whatever else that led you to your trials and that which you don’t want to see face-to-face or on the internet. You don’t need it on the internet to know what you’re made of and what brought you to where you are. Simply be the beautiful and beautifully created daughter of the One true King you are now and know you were also that 10 years ago. Live in triumph of all you have established through “the plodding and trudging through the mud” and know that the love and peace of Christ rests in your heart. Peace Caralyn.

    • Thank you so much Tim! Gosh what a beautiful thought – you’re so right – He has always claimed me as His daughter. What a thing to celebrate and be grateful for! Thanks for that awesome reminder. Hugs and love xox

    • Hi! Thanks for asking! You just click on the link and it will bring you to the page where you can order it online! 🙂 let me know if you need any help! Hugs and love xox

  5. I love this. And oh, so true. I didn’t participate because it was too painful for me too. In a different way. 10 years ago was before I had cancer. Before I realized my priorities were all messed up. Before I realized how precious life really was. I was a different person then. Not a bad person, but a person who was running full speed to nowhere. God used cancer to change my heart and to teach me many lessons. Reading your story touched my heart. I am so happy for you and so proud of all you overcame. And I am in awe of how powerful God really is, and how He used terrible things like anorexia and cancer to bring us closer to Him. God bless you. May you look back in ten years and see yourself for the strong woman in Christ you have become.

    • Hi Jennifer! Thank you so much for sharing your story. So powerful, wow. You’re right – God will use all things for good and bring beauty to all situations. Thank you for this incredible encouragement. You are a blessing to me! Hugs and love xox

  6. it’s quite interesting, I was following you with my original blog after you found it and while I had to stop using the blog for personal reasons I still read those I follow including you and lo and behold yesterday you randomly find my recently new blog! I’m curious if it’s something to do with how I tag, just happenstance, or solar flares! I remember all those years ago when I first started following I saw your posts as insightful, personally challenging (in a good way), and naturally very well written. Keep it up!

    • Haha hmm I don’t know!! Stroke of luck! 🙂 thanks so much for stopping by! Glad this resonated with you 🙂 Hugs and love xox

    • Thank you friend, gosh that means so much 🙂 How blessed we are to have such a Father. Hugs and love xox

  7. How on earth is that 10 year recovery post nearly 2 years old? 😱 Honestly I don’t know if I met that person her and I would be friends like we are but without her we wouldn’t be the friends we are today

    • Thank you Benny, I’m so grateful for your friendship. I know, how time flies! Hugs and love xox

  8. Love your post, Caralyn. We are not on our journey alone, when we have Jesus to help us. All of us struggle with one thing or another. The key as you said is surrender. We let our burdens go and don’t pick them up again. If we fail, we repent and get back up again and let the garbage go and leave it! Congratulations on your journey! Love and hugs!

    • Thank you friend. Amen amen amen! we have such an incredible helper in Jesus! And yes! Let that garbage go! I appreciate your encouraging words! Hugs and love xox

  9. I’m so thankful that you are thriving and happy. Facebook memories and photo albums can remind me of good and bad times. The current time of life is not an easy one, so it’s easy to look back at the happy memories from a couple years ago and wish I could go back. But I trust and lean on God. All this to say, life’s path will be up and down, but God is still faithful. <3

    • Thank you friend. You’re so right – we can lean on God. He is, was, and always will be faithful! How beautiful of a truth is that! Hugs and love xox

    • Yes! The fruit of His work is beautiful to behold! Thanks for sharing that, Steve! Big hugs to you xox

  10. I can still hear and feel the pain in your words because of the empath side of me and I am so happy you are in a better place today. You were always beautiful and you know that beauty is skin deep and well goes beyond bones. I am glad you are here to share your journey and I wish you only the best for the future, dear strong and beautiful warrior.

  11. I love how honest and real you are! You give people hope with your stories. I truly cherish that about you. I was unable to do the 10 year challenge because I just got Facebook a month ago and Instagram at the end of 2017! Lol! I’m not much of a social media person but I use it to promote my writing. Its not all bad but it sure can make you feel bad about yourself. Have to have a strong backbone but even then it can be rough. Thank you for sharing 🌷🌷🌷😍😍

    • Thank you so much Rose! oh gosh, that’s so sweet of you to say! yes! there is joy in knowing that! hugs xox

  12. Great post. I sometimes tell some of my friends that “The past is a great place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there.” It’s such a blessing when you can look at the past and be amazed at how far God has taken you.

    • Thank you Michael. what a great quote! So true! God uses all things for good and teaches us from everything! Hugs and love xox

  13. Thank you for sharing another inspiring story of yours! =)

    You’ve been transformed by God from glory to glory.

    Better days, months and years ahead! =)

    God bless you always! =)

    • Oh gosh what a kind thing to say! I am truly humbled and touched by your words! Hugs and love xox

    • Thank you so much Anna! That means a lot 🙂 i appreciate you stopping by! Hugs and love xox

  14. You speak from a place of pain in reflecting upon the past to a place of joy now reflecting HIM… HIS grace, mercy, and compassion was at work then and now working in and through you to help others… Beautiful redemption in being risen from the ashes… HE is able to do this for anyone who gives their lives to HIM freely to work within wonders of HIS unfailing love… Love never fails…

    • Thank you friend. Amen! He makes breath from ashes. He has been so good to me. I owe Him everything! Hugs and love xox

  15. What an expression!

    It’s amazing the way you gave a deep meaning to the superficial ‘ten year challenge’, using the ordinary to bring healing and hope; and of course, attributing all to Jesus. Amazing!

    More grace unto you.

    • Thank you so much, friend. It’s amazing to see God’s work side by side like that. I felt i had to share 🙂 so glad it resonated with you! Hugs and love xox

  16. Oh, the interwebz! Fascinating indeed, and sometimes flat out dumb. This 10-year challenge is fine, even fun for some. But last few years people simply risked their life unnecessarily just because of the urge to be a part of dangerous challenge acts. I condemn the irresponsible organizers of such. Some young lives got lost, thanks for them.

    • Thank you Robert, for sharing this powerful perspective. Yeah there have been so many tragedies as a result of people “doing it for the ‘Gram.” Hugs and love xox

    • Gosh thank you Victoria! I really appreciate your kind words. Means a lot. Hugs and love xox

    • Thank you Douglas! Oh my gosh I humbled and touched by such generous words. And I’d be honored if you shared it! Thank you! Hugs and love xox

  17. “I feel like I’ve lived a thousand lifetimes in that 10 year span.”

    Yes. Wow. My eating disorder started the summer of 07, and when the 10 year mark of that hit I was in the middle of graduate school to be a counselor.

    Now I’m a licensed counselor, and, despite running vigorously from the eating disorder client population due to my own fears of inadequacy, God kept leading me back and nudging me towards greater understanding of the clinical need for me to work in that arena. He healed me to do His work and I am now so full of life and fulfilled by that beautiful work I get to do.

    God does lots of powerful things in 10 years, and you’re right, before and after photos rarely show all the hills and valleys in the middle.

    Praise God for redemption. Keep writing! I’d love to connect with you if you’re ever in Texas.

    • Thank you so much Alli for sharing your story. Wow what a beautiful gift you’re giving back to the community through your counseling. That is so inspiring. Keep rocking, sister. Yes! If I’m ever in the Lone Star state I’ll look you up! Hugs and love xox

  18. My friend, what a lovely, strong article. It reminds me of the old adage that the dash between years on a tombstone is a poor receptacle for the life that was lived. Only a select few ever really knew what went into that dash.

    Your ten year pictures and the dash between now and then is something that thousands…TENS of thousands…can know a lot about and benefit from. The dash on a tombstone commemorates the life now gone. The dash between your pictures celebrates the battles won, the glory of God that is the light in your heart. It looks forward to the life still to be lived and the battles yet to be won.

    I don’t know how many readers started with your very first post, but EVERYONE should. That is where they will truly learn of – shall I say it? – your dash to freedom in Christ! (I tried not to, but the pun won)

    Prayers and hugs to you!

    • Hi Jeff! Thank you my dear friend. Yes! That is so true – it seems ludicrous to represent it with a silly little dash. And wow what a generous thing to say. Thank you. God has certain been good to me and has taught me so much. And has blessed me with wonderful friends, like you, along the way 🙂 hahaha love the pun! I can always count on you to make me smile! Happy New year my friend! Thank you for the prayers – know that you and yours are in mine too. Sending big hugs to you and Julie! Xox

  19. #200th like! This is a very well-written post. You have a real talent. I think your message is fantastic in this post. Have a blessed day!

  20. Thanks so much for sharing your story — I was reading my old journal this weekend and struggled with many things 10+ years ago as well that God has made new! Sometimes remembering the darkness is a way for us to see more clearly how powerful He is and how much He truly loves us and never gives up on saving His children! I pray He blesses you for giving Him the glory!

    • Thank you so much Matthew, what a kind thing to say. God is so good and always works everything together for good! Hugs and love xox

  21. Thank you for sharing your story. It will help those who still struggle to know that recovery is not a straight line, moving up and to the right always. There are many zigs and zags along the path of the line, praying that the good days far outnumber the bad.

  22. I pray your story makes an impact on everyone who reads it. We are all so much more than our histories and saved by the grace of God. You have a beautiful way with words and I’m glad to have stumbled across your blog.

    (PS… age showing… what is KiKi-ing??? Anyone? )

    • Thank you so much Lindsey! haha KiKiing is from the Drake Song, “Kiki do you love me?” And it’s a video of doing a dance outside of a car. lol very strange when you actually spell it out like that hahahahahah thanks for your encouramgent! hugs xo

  23. It’s these stories of redemption that are meant to be told! I commend you in your journey! I’m in recovery of a different sort but understand the fight just the same! Praise be to God.

    • Thank you so much 🙂 Yes! And thank you for sharing your story. Praise be to God indeed! hugs xox

  24. Yess! Thank you for sharing how far you’ve come. Healing from an eating disorder is such an arduous journey. But praise God for the way He has used your life as a testimony of His goodness and healing power 🙂

    • Thank you so much Rachel! Yes! Praise God indeed, for His healing power in my life! big hugs to you xox

  25. It’s a delight for me to have met and gotten to know (a little) the young woman who’s taken such an extraordinary journey, Caralyn. Here’s to the next ten years!

    • Hey there Mitch! oh gosh, thank you so much. I am so grateful for your friendship 🙂 Yes! To the next ten, for both of us! 🙂 big hugs xo

  26. I’m so happy that you overcame and that Jesus has been with you through your journey. You’re an inspiration to every woman and I hope your book is a bestseller.

    • Thank you so much Rhonda! Yes! Jesus has been so good to me 🙂 thanks a million! hugs xo

  27. I, too, did not want to do the comparison on facebook or on any social media platform. I see pain but I also see growth to who I am. No picture can explain that nor do I want it explained in public. I rather see a therapist for that. 😛 As always, you are spot on and I enjoyed your post.

    • Thank you Stiina for sharing your story. Amen – no picture can explain your story! Hugs and love xox

  28. This was a fanatastic post! So true – God can transform what seems to be untransformable. I too was in a dark place ten years ago and had no wish to revisit that time. My mother, best friend, and third parent to my children had just had a storke. 38 days later she died after never having regained consciousness. It utterly destroyed me and much of the time that follows that month in the hospital with her is a blur – My children were small 2, 5, & 7 and even still, I could not shake the cavernous depression that gripped me. Ten years later, though the weight of her loss still catches in my throat, threatening to choke me at times, I am stronger. God comforted me and filled a hole in my heart so large I thought it was unfillable. Thank you for your post. By the way – your beauty shines from within and I’m glad to have found your page.

    • Hi friend, oh gosh I am so sorry for your loss. Oh friend my heart breaks to hear what you and your family went through. I’m sending you the biggest hug in the world. I’m so glad that you’ve found comfort and strength in God. He is with you today and every day. I pray that you feel His loving arms around you. Love you friend. Thanks for sharing your heart. Big big hugs xox

  29. Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us all! Every one of your posts shows that you are a beautiful young woman and a beautiful soul. The ten year challenge… I never really pay that much attention to those internet challenges anymore. Mostly, they are so silly… but now, thanks to your post, I know I am going to go down memory lane. 🙂
    Thank you also for reading my humble posts.

  30. Well I never took part in the 10 year challenge because I never took many pictures of myself back then and I still don’t … LOL..
    But this is a great post Caralyn.. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  31. 10 years ago I was fully into my anorexia and thinking that it was the best lifestyle, and that people who recovered were weak. Only 2 years ago the Lord enlightened me to change my life! And He used you for that <3

    • Hi Paola. Thank you for sharing your story. I am so glad that you have embraced the recovered life that God has for you!! And gosh I cannot tell you how touched I am by that. Thank you, friend. Praise God!! You and I are worth recovery and the abundance of joy and life that He brings with it! 🙂 Hugs and love xox

  32. Another beautifully written article. I don’t know you, but I am very to happy to see the progress you have made. Never forget that Heavenly Father is aware of all his children. Thanks you for using your gifts to spread positive and uplifting messges.

  33. Yes we the people embracing each new internet craze Its yet to be determine if this is unhealthy or just a faze, are we sinking into an emotional maze. Your story intensifies then indeed clarify what the photos don’t say, in each of us their is a 10 yr story from tragedy to glory but what will never be the same! those two faces with the name.

    • Hey there friend! Thanks so much for your kind words. You’re right! Tragedy to glory! God is so good! Hugs and love xox

  34. Just want to say how refreshing your blog is. Nice to hear such purity and freedom from anger in your tone and that of those who leave comments. Refreshing to not hear the vitriol and foulness that are found in so many blogs. Thanks and God bless you and your readers.

    • Oh my gosh what a kind thing to say! Thank you so much for your generous words. Yes! Hugs and love xox

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