Hello friends! And happy Monday!
I hope everyone had a beautiful and delicious Thanksgiving! We’re now officially in the Christmas season!
Oh my gosh, what a whirlwind it’s been!
Let me catch you up in two sentences: Last week, I was in Miami. I flew straight to Ohio for Thanksgiving, and then turned around less than 48 hours later and flew back to New York for a wedding yesterday!
Talk about a dizzying schedule! But oh my gosh – SO WORTH IT!
My special gentleman, Steven and I went to the most beautiful wedding in New Jersey yesterday – holy cow. Talk about a gorgeous night!
It was my first time getting all dressed up since before the pandemic, and boy – let me tell ya! I felt like Cinderella!
Steven was in the wedding, so he was looking like Prince Charming in his all-black tuxedo. It was a magical night to say the least.
The mass was in a stunning church with high ceilings, and bright white marble. The bride’s classy color palate of black, white and silver really made it feel like a royal wedding!
But the reading really stuck out to me. It was your classic wedding reading from Corinthians – “love is patient, love is kind…” but it started several verses earlier in the chapter — a passage I had never heard before:
“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.”
Sitting in the church, watching our friends get married, listening to that beautiful – and hauntingly powerful passage – be read aloud, it really hit home with me.
God is absolutely right – without love we have nothing.
Over the last few days, I’ve had the joy of running into several old friends who I haven’t seen in a long time, and the first thing that they all say to me is, “Wow – Caralyn, you’re glowing. You have never looked happier.”
And despite me wanting to believe that that is the result of my extensive skincare routine working…the fact of the matter, is because I’ve allowed love into my life.
I’m going to be honest with you about recovery from an eating disorder. The physical part — i.e: the weight restoration — is the easy part. And yeah “easy” is in quotes there, because to gain 40 pounds when you’re petrified of food and terrified of putting on weight…is no walk in the park to say the least.
But in the grand, life-long-journey perspective of recovery, putting on weight is really the easy part. The mental/emotional/spiritual part is where the real work begins.
But it’s also the invisible work.
You see, the world sees: Oh, Caralyn put on the weight, she’s back in a safe rage, she “looks healthy” — all’s well that ends well. She’s fixed.
But the truth of the matter is that, just because someone “looks healthy” on the outside, doesn’t mean that they’re not still battling the toxic thoughts and mindsets that got her to that previous place of deprivation.
And the two areas of “unseen struggle” that so many previous-ED sufferers grapple with are 1) body image and 2) accepting love.
Having gotten so used to living with body dysmorphia, it can be dang near impossible to see your healthy body for what it is: healthy and beautiful. And the battle with the mirror is one that can extend decades, with women never liking what they see in their reflection. (I posted about this on Instagram this weekend – you can find that post here.)
But when it comes to love – that is a hurdle that some women never really overcome. The eating disorder literally beat into submission one’s belief that they are unworthy of love. That their eating disorder disqualified them from love. That they’re undesirable. Broken. A burden. “Too much” for someone to handle.
And let me tell ya — no amount of weight gain is going to *poof* “fix” that little doosey.
But for my entire life, that was me: pushing love away. Keeping people at arm’s length, because that was safe. If no one got “too close,” then I would never have to be rejected as unlovable. If I never let anyone in, I would never have to “face the music” that I really was a burden that no one wanted to take on….
Or so I thought.
Little did I realize, God had been planting the seeds, cultivating my “heart garden,” tending to it with the most gentle patience over these past 14 years of my recovery. Even though during that time, I still wasn’t believing it, God kept telling me the truth: that I am worthy of love, that I am not a burden. And that all I need to do is look upon the Cross to see just how much He loves me, and declares me forgiven and free from my past.
But it took 14 years of His persistence, never giving up on my. Lovingly removing the many weeds, shooing away the birds, being the tender Gardener of my heart, knowing that one day, my heart will finally be ready to bloom. That beautiful day when it will finally all come together – and I’d finally believe those truths He had been whispering to me all along.
And sitting in that church, with a bloomed heart that is being lovingly taken care of by an incredible man here on earth, listening to that passage from the Bible, it just made so much sense to me.
God was so right: without love, we have nothing, we are nothing, and life means nothing.
And reflecting on the journey my heart has been though, I can wholeheartedly say (no pun intended) that that is absolutely right. I didn’t realize how void my life was of fullness, until experiencing now how rich and intoxicating life is when you’re living with a heart full of love!
I know it is so cliche, but the sky is bluer. Mundane things are more special. I wake up with a joy and a lightness in my spirit that is unbreakable.
God created us to love. And I see that clearly now.
Maybe I’m gushing. Maybe I’ve got googly eyes. But I truly feel God’s hand on my life, and His love poured over me so abundantly, and for that I am so grateful.
So why am I sharing this? Because a dormant heart garden can be one of the most lonely, despairing things. Yes, I had what I thought was a full life, with friends, and activities, and distractions that kept me busy — but all of that was so superficial, because I was never truly letting anyone in. I was never really letting my wall down, and the fullness was just artificial to the abundance that comes with a heart open to love.
Dormant is not dead.
Though it may seem it in those quiet moments, when you let yourself truly feel. Dormant means that God is cultivating your heart so that one day it will be able to receive the love that God created us to enjoy and relish in.
And so I just want to encourage anyone that may be in that stage: keep believing. Keep trusting. Keep listening to those whispers from the gentle Gardener.
Because love is everything. And we deserve it.
“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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