Standing Tall in Faith

This reflection was written by Principal Jesse Zink for this week’s Wingèd Ox, a weekly news digest distributed to the college community. You will find reflections from previous weeks here.

Dear colleagues, 

I am tall and I always have been. When I was younger, like many other tall people, I had a tendency to slouch or walk around hunched over, the better to fit in. When I started working at a summer camp as a teenager, the director was even taller than me. One day he pulled me aside and said, “Jesse, you are exactly as tall as God made you. So roll your shoulders back, stand up, and be who God has made you to be.” No doubt I still slouch from time to time but I have tried never to forget those words. 

I have been reflecting on the word “confidence” lately, which comes from Latin roots that literally mean “with faith.” Those of us who seek to live by faith are people who are called to live confidently. This can be challenging. Many of us are beset by insecurities. In an academic environment like McGill, it is not uncommon to talk about “imposter syndrome,” the idea that somehow someone made a mistake in letting us in. Frequently during the semester you may think, “Who ever thought I could do any of this work?!” Societal inequities compound all of this. People from some backgrounds, whether defined by skin colour, gender, sexuality, national origin, accent, ability or disability, and so on are routinely excluded or made to feel less than, not just in society but also in the church. It can be hard to have confidence with there is so much systemic inequities telling you otherwise. 

But as the etymology reminds us, confidence is at the heart of having Christian faith. God made each of us exactly who we are, gifted us with a unique set of talents for this world, and calls us to share them with one another and the world around us. God calls the church to witness to the transforming power of the good news of Jesus Christ. In a place like Quebec, it can sometimes be hard to live with confidence as a Christian given all that stands in opposition to the Christian faith. But that is precisely what we are called to do—live humbly but boldly, with humility but also confidently as witnesses to what God has done for the world through Christ. 

Over the reading week, I started my seedlings for the garden for this year. They are now poking their way through the soil and doing exactly what God has made them to do—reach for the sun (or my grow lights). Each of us is called to do precisely the same thing: roll our shoulders back, stand up tall, and reach out towards the love of God, confident in God’s presence and purposes in the world and living with faith that God has acted, is acting, and will continue to act in this world. 

Faithfully yours, 

Jesse Zink