Confidence is born of conviction; it is empowering to the weak and indispensable to the strong. It is born of a sense of safety in being who and how we are, and it comes alive in the mysterious ways humans believe in and enable one another. The dictionary frames it as a “firm trust”. Life frames it as a sense of trust, a trust that is instilled by the power and presence of acceptance and love. It is alive in self and in interactions with others; confidence is a construct necessary to positive relationships and growth. A lack of confidence can be debilitating for a lifetime and whittle away at pride, purpose, and possibility. Self-confidence, on the other hand, enables a strength, a courage, to effectively journey through the complications and complexities of life.
Jesus is the ultimate example of confidence: he spars with rabbis throughout the Gospels, preaches a seemingly simple message, and defies the rational constructs of his time, culture and religion. In the letters of Paul, that same confidence, a sense of conviction comes across. It is there in so many: in Clare of Assisi and her faith first in the uniqueness of her own call and then the larger call to a life of poverty . And yet she pursued it all the way to the papacy and won women an anchor hold in the life of the Church. There was Francis of Assisi, who blazed his own trail and wove a story of simplicity, strength and trust in a lifetime of companionship and surprises. Centuries burst with their stories and the realities of the confidence they had and shared. From Elizabeth of Hungary to Teresa of Avila and Teresa of Calcutta, there are examples of a radical faith that is born of confidence and trust. Even in our time, there is Carlo Acutis, the teenage computer whiz who lived a life of faith and was recently beatified. And while these are the stand-out stories, there are so many more that rest in our very ordinary lives and intersect with ours on a daily basis. Seeing that confidence in another, that sense of conviction and trust, is meant to inspire and empower others in acts of goodness and courage that lead to more.
There is a way in which each of us walks our own pothole-filled path, discovers strength and weakness, the wealth of humanity and the limits that are inevitably part of that. But deep within us each of us lie the seeds of creation and the possibility of more. Jesus sustained that through relationships, and the words of the Our Father (Mt. 6:9-13) echo that confidence and trust:
“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,[a]
but deliver us from the evil one.[b]’
These are words of confidence, of relationship and connection, that empower courage, purpose and possibility.They are words of trust in Other and Hope for self. They are words which show confidence makes all the difference. Be confident and unafraid!