Changing the Lens

Well, I’m back in New York after part one of my Annie shoot. It went so well, and I had an absolute blast.

When I was home, I went digging through some old memorabilia and I found these gems!

I had meant to put them in my post about said shoot, but alas, I was writing from the Chicago airport, and didn’t have access! So here you go: Vintage C-Bear.

But I’ll tell you what, it was quite emotional going through all those dusty boxes in the basement filled with photos and memories from, honestly, what seemed like a lifetime ago.

But even as I was shuffling through old theater programs, and costumes from past shows, and old trinkets and patches from camp, and sports – the thing that pulled at my heart the most…were all of my photo albums from high school.

The photos with my ex-boyfriend, and goofing around with my friends. To see the joy and the life and the love that was so palpable in those photos — it brought me to tears.


Because turn just a couple more pages, and I started to see the anorexia begin to take hold…It was just devastating.

Those photos of pure, unadulterated exuberance, then became scary — painful images of a terrified, and destructive shell of that previously fun-loving, spunky girl, now merely hanging on for dear life. That light behind my eyes was gone. And so was the radiance that literally exploded from my chest, pre-ED.

Later that night, after glass of wine with my parents, I…*ahem*…opened up a little bit. And when I say “opened up” — I mean, I opened the fricking emotional flood gates. Which, frankly, was really healthy to do, but still — to say there were waterworks would be quite the understatement.

But as we were talking, I was finally able to articulate something that, after looking at those photos, became glaringly obvious.

It only took me 11 years of recovery to be able to see it. But the most devastating effect of my eating disorder, is that it completely annihilated my ability to accept love.

The photos in the basement, pre-ED: I was like a little sponge, soaking up all the love from my friends, from my family, from God. And then it was like, over night, that porous sponge turned to stone, and I felt unworthy of receiving that life-source that I so joyfully internalized and embraced before the disease.

And that distorted belief system has lingered long into my recovery. And even though I have made tremendous progress in that area, I can still see traces of that resistance to receive love carry over, even today in 2019 – particularly in dating. But also, if I’m honest, in my faith.

The next morning, on my flight back to NYC, I decided to turn on a podcast: a sermon by Fr. Mike Schmitz. And wouldn’t you know, it was like a little love letter from God.

Fr. Mike so beautifully said, that the one question we are going to have to answer at the end of our lives, is “How much will we let God love us.” Which, after that sob sesh the night before, I literally chuckled on the plane, knowing that only God could have orchestrated the timing of this divinely scheduled podcast.

But the truth is that, God has already declared His love for me and you. He did that on the cross. That is how much He loves us — enough to embrace the nails.

And so our job is to embrace that love. Open our hearts to it. We have to accept His radical, life-changing love.

This brought to my knees. Because that right there is precisely the battle that has been raging in my soul ever since the anorexia ripped through my heart and left it in ruins.

Will I allow myself to receive God’s love for me?

It is a question that you and I and everyone has to answer. And the fact of the matter is that we all have circumstances or past situations that influence how we answer that question.

And in that regard, I think we’re all a lot more alike than we realize.

We all have our “thing.” Our “battle” that we are at war against in our hearts. And the uniting factor in all of that is Jesus. Is the Cross that saved all of our lives and definitively declared His love for us. It undoubtedly commissioned His endless mercy and grace for all of us, no matter our past. No matter our failings or short comings.

The cross was the verdict. The cross was His final answer.

So how will we respond? How much will I let Him love me?

The thing about those old photos – is that there’s a romantic filter I unconsciously put on those memories. Of a simpler time, before heartbreak, before trials, before this detour, or X, Y, Z.

But the truth is that, life is happening right now. And I have the opportunity to create new snapshots, and new memories, equally as joyful, equally as exuberant.

Because the young girl in that photograph, and the young woman looking at those photographs — is loved just the same by the Father. The cross is the same for both of those girls, regardless of the situations, circumstances, shortfalls, and slip ups that happened between the “then” and the “now.” His love and His mercy is consistent.

It’s only the lens through which I am seeing that has changed.

And that, I have the power to change.

“This is what the Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.” Ez 37:5

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110 responses to “Changing the Lens”

  1. I’m forwarding your blog to my daughter who lives in LA. She’s a freelance writer.

  2. In my nearly 7 years since ordination, I have seen countless people with quite obvious pain that they think is hidden away, but in truth they are not willing– at least not yet– to deal with and truly put behind them. Such a reckoning cannot be forced, but I hope in time they will find and embrace the same courage you display. Hugs and love from sultry Kentucky– Mike

    • You’re so right Mike, we can’t force it. It’s all in good time. So glad you stopped by! Hugs and love xox

    • Thanks so much friend. I appreciate that 🙂 thanks for reading it! Hugs and love xox

    • Aww thank you Laura!!youre so sweet to say that. Amen to that! We are ALL loved by Him! Hugs and love xox

    • Thank you love! amen to that! Different – and we’re all in the same boat! Hugs and love xox

  3. Such an invaluable lesson ❤️! You’re truly amazing. Through all the dark season, God used it to have you reach out to others and it’s so incredible to see! Keep up the amazing work, Friend. Glad you were able to see another piece of your heart healed 💕!

    • Thanks love. Yes! Every day is an opportunity to heal! Recovery is a journey!thanks for such kind words. Hugs and love xox

  4. Caralyn–reading your post reminded me of 1 Corinthians 13:12. You talked about seeing yourself differently and I wonder if what you’re getting at is learning to see yourself the way Christ sees you. It’s telling to me that Paul combines seeing things as they really are with charity. As we develop charity, the pure love of Christ, we develop new eyes to see as He sees–to see ourselves and others with His perfect love. Lasting recovery/healing/change can only happen with Christ’s help. It can only proceed when we first see the illness/wound/personal flaw in an honest way, acknowledge it, accept it. Then we can partner with Christ and let Him transform us (Romans 12).

    • Hi Rebecca! Thank you for sharing your heart 🙂 yes!! God is always shaping and forming and developing those aspects of our hearts to mirror Him 🙂 Hugs and love xox

  5. Any love we human beings are capable of giving each other is only a dim reflection of the love God has for us. It takes a lifetime for us to learn to love Him back, and only then are we able to have a genuine love for our fellow earthly pilgrims. That delegated love is sadly lacking in our world today.

    • You’re so right about that, Ian!! It takes a LIFETIME to foster that relationship. How blessed are we to have such a patient and loving Father. I appreciate you stopping by! Hugs and love xox

  6. Allow me, if you will, to set the scene. I am in my apartment, my roommate is visiting his parents, ive got relaxing music on, im looking at notes from a talk i went to this week and working on my Testimony so i can give it to my young adult group. Im writing about some extremely challenging days in my life. I decide to check wordpress. Claire de Lune by Debussy starts playing. I read your post.

    A more perfect confluence of events, I cannot fathom. I may or may not have a little bit of dust in my eyes.

    Thank you for your powerful story and timely reminder. God died for us: past, present, and future. God Loves us, no matter what. We can change the lens through which we look at our past. Thank you for your witness of Gods healing grace. God bless you.

    St. Monica, pray for us.

    • Good luck on your testimony!! I’ll say a prayer for you!! I’m so glad this resonated with you! Praise God for His healing grace indeed. Big hugs to you Scoot. BTW- love your music choice 🙂

    • Awww Amy, you’re kind to say that. Thank you my dear friend! Have a great night! Hugs and love xox

  7. I think that you are more alive and warmer than you think. For example, your video about bloating showed us a Caralyn who cares about her community. I saw a light in your eyes that wasn’t there in the first video you made on BBB introducing yourself.

    Originally on BBB there was no face and no name, although showing corners of your face told us that you wanted to have a real connection to the BBB community. Is caring about your BBB-ers that far from wanting and accepting their love for you?

    After that I asked to have a visit when Julie and I made our first trip to Manhattan to meet some Australian friends. You declined, not yet up to it. Then you later accepted a visit when I was near your parent’s home. Progress! Now YOU are coming to ME for a speaking engagement at my church! Again – how far is that acceptance of friendship from accepting love? Not too far, I think.

    There’s always room for improvement, but you called out to Jesus in rehab and accepted His strong embrace that powered you through recovery. That’s pretty good!

    Last year I went to a therapist over some problems. I found myself bawling over shit I hadn’t ever thought of, but she pegged. Old scars can be deep. Old wounds can still open. You picked a scab that night and felt the pain. That doesn’t mean you aren’t accepting of love. You just got caught in a memory. That doesn’t sound too different from me crying at the therapist’s over things years old.

    Is your recovery finalized? Likely not, but you’re a damned sight further on than you give yourself credit for. Tears over losing your Aussie prove that too!

    Well, I hope I haven’t overstepped. Looking in from outside, I think a might see things you don’t. Or maybe I’m a lousy therapist! 😊

    • Thank you for saying that Jeff. Uoure right – this blog has been quite a journey. And wow when you put it into that perspective — that Lens — it really is quite awesome. Thank you for yet again encouraging me!! You’re right about those old scars. Definitely haven’t overstepped!! Thank you my dear friend! Hugs and love xox

  8. I see the sun out right now in BBB. We do not have to wait for tomorrow. I have been through similar situations although it was not a disease, but the Son comes out and makes it all bright.

  9. You know one of the things that I love about God? The fact that He takes the darkest parts of our lives and turns those parts into something that brings light–something beautiful! Thank you for sharing your story and allowing that beauty to be shared!

    • I love that too! He is the light bringer! 🙂 so glad you stopped by! Hugs and love xox

  10. I love you and your raw honesty, Caralyn, and I so very much love how intimately you share your life journey. If I may, I would encourage you to take your Bible in your hands (not an app, but a real hard copy), pray deeply for God’s touch, guidance and understanding, and then begin to read and study Psalm 139, Verses 1-18. When I was in treatment, Psalm 139:14 became my life verse and was written on my heart and my graduation coin. Now this Chapter is my life chapter. Because when I really studied what the verses say and what they mean to me personally, and asked God to give me understanding, these Words of Psalm 139:1-18 became the most beautiful Love Letter to me from God, my Maker and Creator, indeed the Lover of my Soul, who loves me so much that He never leaves me. Like David Crowder sings, in his emotion wrapped song, Oh, how He loves us (How He Loves), Oh how He loves us! <3 <3 <3

    • Oh Mindy, this is so beautiful. Thank you dear friend for the encouragement. You’re right – God’s word is so full of guidance and love. I will definitely look those up. Love letters – i love that 🙂 Thank you for sharing your heart with me 🙂 Hugs and love xox

  11. My dear friend,

    Thank you for your beautiful photos when you were younger.

    It is the mother’s love that lets the baby start to love the mother, the mother that gives milk to the baby that cares and worries and has much much love for her child.
    The same is with God, God loves his child and we children answer it like watching into a mirror.

    It is our mind that plays thousands of roles in us and we are our best friend and our best enemy at the same time. When our trust in God grows we will overcome those fights in us – we usually fear this last step, the step to really surrender to our Father, to have 100% trust in Him as our mind is playing with us: projecting us in pros and contras and thus leaves us in doubts. We should be like a tender flower that dares to open its petals when the warm sunbeams touch our heart – mind again tries to ignore it – but there are a hundred thousands of signs at our inner sky (experiences) that speaks of love, the sunshine of our divine Father. So, my dear friend, open your petals of love for Him – do not be afraid – not the dark night will embrace you but warm sunshine – God is living in all His creatures He has created – you may not love their minds, but love Him in every tiny thing, as His true temple is in our hearts, as He is the Ocean while we are the drop of it.

    The more we go deeper into ourselves the more we will discover the functioning of our mind that has so many faces. Beside that mind, there is also the great sun living in us, God with love and light who takes us by our hand. So we should be very conscious of each thought, each step we do and do not allow our mind to play a role. As there is only one role – the role of the One.

    Only mind is afraid and fears, but love is consciousness, is divine light, is pure life, the breath of God, is that love that we all wish to reflect.

    When we take one step towards God, He will approach us with thousands of steps…

    Dear friend: have full trust in God, trust in love (not in the mind…)

    Love and light may fill your heart
    Yours friend Didi

    • Hi Didi — wow what an absolutely beautiful response, thank you dear friend 🙂 You’re so right about that — His love – that pure breath of life – is what we long to reflect. And I love that – He really will approach us with 1000s of steps — He runs! Runs towards us as soon as we take that one baby step. I am so encouraged by this. Thank you dear friend. Hope you had a beautiful day in the garden yesterday! hugs xox

      • Welcome, my dear friend 🙂

        Yes, yesterday I ate new potatoes, with a bit salt and butter together with chanterelles (special mushrooms which are here a delicacy) in a pepper cream sauce – uff, it was really delicious. Because of the long lasting daylight we have got in Finland, new potatoes are really incredible tasty, as well as dill, parsley, basilicum, tomatoes, all kind of berries and strawberries, which have an extraordinary taste. End of June and beginning of July we have even 24 hours daylight and in the north of Finland, in lapland, the sun does not set at all. Unfortunately, summer is short but intensive with sometimes more than 30 degrees Celsius.

        Have a happy weekend, my friend 🙂
        Love and light to you

  12. It is an=amazing how we look at our lives from the perspective of years. God’s love doesn’t​ judge, it accepts. Caralyn, you have come a long wat=ys!

    • You’re so right about that – God’s love doesn’t judge. Thank you so much for your encouraging words! I am so grateful! hugs xo

  13. I get this. I struggle with accepting love too. After decades of hurt and rejection and being made to feel like I don’t matter, it’s hard for me to feel like I deserve love. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  14. Caralyn, this is EXACTLY what I and a fellow Christian were talking about this week. It’s so incredibly important to accept one’s journey, and to not let the shame of what has happened to us define us. It feeds us the truth that we’re not worthy of Love when, like you said, Jesus says we ARE! Let’s keep holding on to the truth. <3

    Love, in Christ,
    Annalee 🙂

    • Hi Annalee! Thank you so much for sharing your heart! You’re so right about that – we can’t let that shame define us! We need to just hand it over to Jesus and He sets us free! Amen – hold on to the Truth! big hugs to you xox

  15. Sounds like I need to check out this Fr. Mike Schmitz! What you wrote about his message reminded me a lot of this excellent, little excerpt from Graham Cooke:

  16. I took this message with me to yoga last night during meditation, asking myself how much do I let God love me and my resistance at times. Excellent post. Again, thank you for sharing your heart ❤️

    • Oh wow that’s so beautiful. Thanks Lisa 🙂 hope it was a good practice! 💛 Hugs and love xox

  17. Just awesome. I love how God is taking you through the process of complete recovery. It’s a gentle nudge, yet with an unbending resolve to win your heart for Himself and cause it to flow through you to others. I’m blessed by you tonight.

    People need to hear/read this.
    And well, I am accepting applications for guest blogs on faith-inspiring and personal development articles or poetry on my blog. If you’re interested or know someone who might. Please do visit my blog and email me.

    • Thanks so much James. You’re so right- God is laying the path before me and I am so grateful! And thank you for the invitation!! Hugs and love xox

  18. So, so, so TRUE! Thank you Lord! This post really spoke to me on a very deep level. I love the part way you said that it’s the same grace of God the old self needed and the new too as well. Wow! Immensely powerful right there. It’s truly a changing of the lens. We now see through the eyes of grace and see how much we needed God and will always continue to until He calls us home to glory. To see that we needed His love to heal, embrace and transform our life’s for the better. <3 I enjoyed the lovely images! Blessings & more of God's grace to you.

    • Thanks so much Lane! Aw I’m glad you enjoyed it. I hope your week is off to s great start! Hugs and love xox

  19. You have made mention of Fr Mike before and he did impress every time. Just as you do impress every time. And your making salad oe changing the lens gets to grip my old heart every time. Be so blessed beyond recognitiin! Love from dear old Cape Town.

  20. I love so much how you pose the question of how much we will let God love us. Such a unique question that really changes the way I think about my relationship with God! I think I often forget about continually accepting His love everyday which is a bummer because it’s what it’s all about. Thanks for bringing this up as a great reminder!

    • Aw thank you Brianna. Isn’t it such a perspective shifting thought?! Leave it to Fr Mike to pack the punch ! 🙂 big hugs to you xox

  21. Hey if I can be completely candid for a second, although I have been doing this 10 years. I am an amateur at the blogging side if things in comparison to you. My thing has mostly been video! But I am impressed with your layout and plan to implement some of your strategies your posts are fun and inviting and you are able to relay the info as well as your ads do well! Bravo! Your inspiration?

    • That’s so awesome! Thank you so much! My inspiration is just to offer hope and encouragement to others! hugs xo

  22. Making new memories, dwelling in the present and receiving the love that God has for us now! Good message. Wow, you saw something so powerful, that God’s love and the love of others was always there for you, but you couldn’t receive it. He was faithful to break through in your life! Thanks for sharing that.

    • Hi Ron, thank you so much 🙂 Yes! He was so faithful and for that I am incredibly grateful! big hugs to you

    • Thank you so much Mitchell! I appreciate you stopping by and taking the time to read it! big hugs xo

  23. Reading this post, I was reminded of a video where a mom asked her little boy, “Do you love me?”.. His answer was “Yes”…
    “How much?”
    “This much!” as he raised his arms to the site.
    Ask a little child to quantify something he believes is so large and you’ll see his arms go straight up to the side.
    Jesus himself said that we should like little children, so He set the example. “How much does God love you?” “This much” as his hands were nailed in position for all the world (past, present & future) to see.

    Care, you’re not the only one who struggles in receiving love. There are many with this issue. It doesn’t only stem from eating disorders.. Various others factors can lead to it and I believe this stems of not being able to love yourself.
    The bible talks about loving your neighbor as you love yourself. So if you don’t love yourself, I highly doubt that you’ll be able to love another to the level you’re supposed to. And if you don’t love yourself, you don’t expect anyone else to love you either.

    Why does God love me? Why does this person Love me? Why does that person care for me? I’m this.. I’m that… I’m should not be loved.

    Another factor of the human condition. Man kind will search Heaven and earth to find love, but when it comes to us and appears so easily, so freely, so readily, we are skeptical to receive; feeling forever that we never earned it. I know the feeling all too well…

    Just food for thought I guess. This is what came to mind when reading your post. Which by the way, is awesome. Keep them coming.

    Not sure if you took a glance at my post.. If you did, I’m ready for any feedback or comment.

    • Wow this is so powerful!!! thank you!!!! you’re so right — we have to love ourselves first before we can love others — what’s that saying, you can’t give from an empty cup. And amen – the human condition. big hugs to youxo

  24. “How much will we let God love us.” That is some truth. Letting God’s love change us is difficult, yet so beneficial. He is
    faithful. My therapist has me working on some of the difficult memories I have from my childhood. She reminds me that even though people did horrible things to me, that God was faithful; even when others let me down, he was there every moment.

    • Thank you friend – You’re absolutely right – difficult yet immensely beneficial. Thank you for sharing your heart .God is faithful!! hugs xox

  25. Would we genuinely appreciate God’s light if we had never experienced the darkness of this world? Absolutely not. I don’t know a single person who has a genuine relationship with God who didn’t hit rock bottom at various moments in life. Often times thinking of themselves as believers, but once their world falls apart, they begin to question God.

    The truth is: Every experience God gives us, or allows us to go through, progressively builds in us the complete and utter realization that we would be literally and figuratively dead if it weren’t for him. So, as painful as it was, I believe that everything that happened to you, and everything that happens to all of us, serves a purpose for our own good.

    Not that God “ordered” these struggles for us, it’s the world we’re in that has a powerful, evil pull on us. We all know we aren’t good and that’s why this evil pulls affects us. And God, being the creator of all things and not a limited creature of spacetime like us, knows how to use any and every event in this world to bring forth good in our lives.

    I know millennials have a higher tendency than other generations to preceive certain moments in life as wasted time. And although that might be true for the world, there is never, ever any wasted time with God. With God, a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years is like a day. 🙂

  26. I have to agree kid. I would NOT wish what you went through on anyone! But it made you the incredibly strong woman, and excellent role model that you are. I might not agree with all you say, but I will NEVER stop being damn proud of you and who you have become!

    Now if you would just stop eating Kale…..

    • Thank you Tony, I appreciate that so much. And gosh – thanks for saying that — you’re right – God has brought me through a lot, and I am grateful for that! hahaha kale….hahah

  27. This was right on time for me. I’m in the middle of a battle with my mind and my faith in God. I reading sparked a flame in me to work harder on my purpose and calling God placed in my life.

    • Thank you so much, I’m so glad it resonated with your heart! know that you’re in my prayers! big hugs xox

  28. I want you to know that your blog has truly blessed me, and before I read this post, I had prayed for you last night, and I prayed for another girl that I couldn’t remember her name so I referred to her as orphan Annie, because all I could think of while praying for you was orphan Annie. So today I go to your posts, and I find this one which started out with orphan Annie, and I realized I was meant to read this post for my own healing of my heart. Thank you! Your words are beautiful and encouraging.

    • Oh wow, i am so touched by this. God truly works in remarkable ways, doesn’t He?! Thank you for saying that. And thank you for your prayers. Means the world. Hugs and love xox

  29. Beautiful. I have been struggling with this myself as I have a poor perception of myself, and reading this was a good reminder that God loves me right now, the messy me. Thank you for writing and sharing this. I agree that God has a good sense of humor and awesome timing!

    • Thank you so much 🙂 I’m so glad this resonated with you! Amen!! He loves the messy us! 🙂 hugs xo

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