Heather Bellamy spoke with author Cathy Madavan

Cathy Madavan
Cathy Madavan

Cathy Madavan is part of the Care for the Family speaking team, she is on the Spring Harvest planning group and is a regular columnist for Liberty magazine. And she has just released a new book, Digging for Diamonds. Heather Bellamy chatted with her all about social media, relationships, our flaws and dealing with stress and pressure.

Heather: So you've got this new book out, Digging for Diamonds, what's it all about?

Cathy: I think it was a bit of a heart cry felt need to get beneath the surface of life and dig a little bit deeper into stuff that's really valuable. I felt like everything is so superficial sometimes in my life and on social media. It seems like everything is a competition, even as a mum! I think sometimes there's a sense that everyone competes and has these good impressions we want to make on each other. I really wanted to encourage people, as well as myself, to dig a bit deeper and work out what is important; what God would say is important in our lives and what the things that are worth investing in are. I wanted to dig a little bit into what they might be, so hopefully the book will help people do that.

Heather: So what are those deeper things? What are the things that you think matter to God?

Cathy: A lot of it is the riches of Christ if you like. These things that God has already given us, whether it's our relationships with others, understanding ourselves, or being transformed and seeking transformation.

There's all kinds of great fun stuff in the book. Lots of fun stories about how God's dealt with me over the years and how he's helped me to accept my flaws. Each chapter's like a different aspect of a diamond. So one of them would be accepting that we all have flaws, because all diamonds are flawed, but accepting also that we're still really valuable and that God wants us to be lavished. There's all kinds of different facets that I've drawn each chapter about, which will hopefully lead people to think a bit deeper about their lives and realise that there are riches in even the difficult circumstances. The chapter that spoke to me most was the one about being resilient. Diamonds are really hard; they're really tough and they're really strong, but they're only that way because of the pressure and the heat that has formed them. For me that was powerful. I hope other people will see that God can meet us and make us stronger and we can draw on his strength even in the really tough times.

Heather: So how do you cope with pressure and stress in your life?

Cathy: We all cope with stress and pressure in different ways. I think some of us like to bury our heads, some of us are stewers, some are spewers and we'll lose our temper and some of us are shoppers. I think people have different default mechanisms when they're under stress and when they're under pressure. For me, I think it has been about recognising that stress and pressure and even suffering are a part of our normal human existence and part of life. It's not about being angry with God about that and it's not trying to avoid that or to somehow anaesthetise myself from that, but it's about really understanding that that is part of everybody's life and coming to know how to walk with God in that, and to remember that he suffered too. Jesus when he was walking on the earth, suffered and he struggled and he was mocked and scorned and let down and physically suffered. In him we have somebody who understands what that's like and he can walk with us in it. That has been a very powerful thing that I've learned in some of the ups and downs in life that we've been through.

Heather: When you talk about suffering, your husband is registered blind, so we're not talking about small things in life. How do you handle suffering and how have you seen God use that in your life? Like that diamond being formed in pressure, has it formed you?

Cathy: It has been an interesting journey for us. I think that's quite an obvious thing in our life that most people would see fairly easily, because it is a very difficult suffering. Of course it's not the only thing we've been through.

When Mark was diagnosed in his early twenties with a disease that would take his sight and has mainly now, he's 44 and has only got a small amount of vision left. That is one of those moments and I think lots of people have had those, either diagnosis moments, or a redundancy, or a miscarriage, or something where all of a sudden everything in their life changes. I think those are real corner moments for us, where we have to stop and analyse how we are going to cope. I think a lot of us without meaning to, have a bit of an unwritten deal with God, that maybe we can cope with a certain amount of suffering, you know, maybe not getting the promotion we wanted, or the odd headache, but actually we maybe have said something to him like, not this much, I never signed up for this. I never signed up to this amount of suffering. The only thing I can say is, I don't have any easy answers for any of that except that I know how he has met us in that and how much we've learned; those treasures that we've discovered. There is an amazing verse in Isaiah that talks about finding treasures in the darkness and jewels hidden in secret places. I feel like we've discovered some amazing jewels that we would never have found on easy street; things like how resilient we are; how we can cope with things we didn't realise we could cope with; how amazing other people and other Christians particularly have been in supporting us, but also, how incredibly faithful and kind and loving God has been to us through these years and continues to be. I kind of feel like I'd never want to go through such difficult things and no-one ever would chose to, but there are some things I've discovered during those times that have been incredibly precious.

Digging For Diamonds

Heather: And how important is authenticity through that process and not putting a mask on, or hiding the pain, but being authentic with people and yourself?

Cathy: I think you've hit the nail on the head there, because I don't know why sometimes we feel this need, maybe it's some of the culture that we live in, I don't know - that kind of wants to give this constant impression of everything in our lives being marvellous and fantastic. I do struggle when that also permeates the church as well. My husband's a church leader and we really have to fight this battle about keeping it real with people. I think one of the good things about him having such a physical disability is that people are seeing modelled from the front in our church that Mark is vulnerable; that we are vulnerable and dependent on God and dependent on other people. We don't stand there as people who've got our lives all together and you know that we're all fabulous every day of the week and that we don't struggle - because we do struggle. I hope that that will give people permission to be real about their struggles as well and there's a whole chapter in the book about authenticity and how being real in all of this stuff is so important, because it opens up the opportunities for other people to really get much more honest and have the in depth relationships, because none of us wants to live on shallow superficial relationships, but it does involve some vulnerability.

Heather: And what about the whole thing of knowing your value? Whether it's decisions you've made in your life that have made you feel like damaged goods, or whether it's through sickness and ill health, or things like that, that make you feel like you're not as worthy as the next person who has all their health, or has made all the right decisions in life. How do you find that you are loved and are of value? Isn't everybody of as much value even if we're not as perfect as the next person seems to be?