Seasoned author Cathy Madavan explains how she has come to accept who she is – and how we can do the same
Almost every time I step off stage after speaking at an event, people come for a chat and often say: “Gosh, you’re so much shorter than I realised!” Indeed. I am undeniably short. I can’t do anything about it either. I am also outspoken, musical, grumpy in the mornings and I have the spiritual gift of reverse parking. I am a complex mishmash of my upbringing, my personality, my gifts and God’s grace in my failures. Aren’t we all? Perhaps the joy of middle age is finally finding some peace about who I am. Here are five things I’m finally beginning to accept.
1. You’re a bespoke masterpiece
Many of us could quote Psalm 139, where it says we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (v14). But do you really believe it about yourself? Or do you look at Mrs Fabulous, being ‘Insta glamorous’ with her apparently perfect family and stunning good looks, and think that maybe she got more out of the “wonderfully made” deal than you did? We’ve all been there. But getting sucked into the comparison vortex robs us of the acceptance of who we are. Why would we insult God’s workmanship – us? You are a bespoke masterpiece (see Ephesians 2:10) and the world will never get another ‘you’ again. You’re not perfect, but you are unique, you are valuable and you are needed.
2. Your strength could be your weakness
Have you ever noticed that the thing that you’re best at is also your Achilles heel? You might be a brilliant administrator who gets a little, shall we say, obsessive over the details of life? Perhaps you’re a free-thinking creative person who really couldn’t care less about tidiness or emails. You might love helping others but find it hard to ask for help yourself. I’m a communicator – I could talk for my nation, but I also need to learn to stop talking sometimes. We are all different, but our weaknesses are often the flip side of our strengths. It’s good to be aware of and to learn to mitigate our weaknesses, but let’s also celebrate our strengths!
3. Other people don’t define you
I’ve heard it all over the years. I’m apparently too much of this and not enough of that. I’ve been stereotyped, talked down and defined in extraordinary ways. Occasionally words have truly stuck. I’m sure you have your own back catalogue of less-than helpful comments. At some point we must decide whether we are what other people might say or whether we are who God says we are. For me, turning down the volume on other voices means I hear God more clearly. Like wise, turning up the volume on God’s truth means other voices diminish. Yes, we all need insight and feedback from those we trust (even if it’s uncomfortable). But we are precious children of God, and his voice is the one we can always depend upon.
4. You’re more resilient than you think
Anyone who has ever heard me speak or who has read my book Digging for Diamonds (Authentic Media) knows my favourite Bible verses are from 2 Corinthians 4, where Paul tells us we have treasure in our jars of clay. I love this so much. We are indeed fragile like clay – we get chipped, broken and bashed about by life. But in us, through faith, we have the strength of Christ in our weakness. He is our treasure – precious and strong and he dwells in us. We really are more resilient than we think when we draw on his strength. Thank God for that.
5. You make a difference
I really believe that every day you can make a difference wherever you go. Your presence, your ideas, your smile, your words, your touch – they all have the potential to build others up. You can affirm somebody, you can show generosity and hospitality and demonstrate what love looks like. I think we underestimate the small things – the visit in times of trouble, the text on the anniversary of a death, or the noticing when somebody does something well, for example. God can use you to bless others today and every day.