How did/does family shape your perception of strength? Both of my parents are great role models to me and have shaped my perception of strength. My mother, who went to the best university in Taiwan and has a Master’s degree, gave up her potential career to be a mother to my brother and me. Looking back on her life, she regards it as God’s greatest blessing to her that she never worked when we were young. When I was in 6th grade, I distinctly remember a time when I got a poor grade and she was very upset with me. However, after she had yelled at me, she apologized, and vowed to never become angry about my grades again. Her ability to swallow her pride and recognize her own weakness is a model to me for what true strength means. My father grew up with significant family issues, and experienced quite a bit of suffering. Yet, he persevered through prayer and dependency on God, and doesn’t hold bitterness towards anyone and sees the best in everyone. When we were in elementary school, my dad decided my brother and I were old enough to hear about his childhood, and spent a series of time telling us one story a night of the trials he had faced. The stories broke our hearts, but his vulnerability and strength amazed us. He is a model to me that true strength is showing who we really are.
How did/does your culture shape your perception of strength? I am a second-generation Taiwanese-American. My parents moved from Taiwan to the United States in their late-twenties to pursue their graduate studies. In Asian culture, and most Eastern cultures, strength and identity are found in community, not as individuals. This has shaped me to recognize strength as not just personal, but communal. I grew up in a Chinese church in New Jersey full of immigrant families, where no one had blood relatives in the United States, and where our church community truly became our family. When people got married or passed away, everyone in the church was invited to gather at the church for the ceremony or service. When people were sick, others brought meals and cared for the family as their own. True strength, in my opinion, is shown in how we love one another and by how strong we have made our community.
Iris’s Intentional Acts of Kindness
How did you use your $100?
$65: I brought a meal and wrote a card to the family of a woman in our church who recently suffered a stroke. Since she was being treated a distance away from her home, her family would spend all day with her, and not have the time to cook at night. I wanted to encourage her family, show my support and love for them in a tangible way, and make their difficult situation just a tiny bit easier.
$14: I bought a copy of the book One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp and shipped it to my friend. She's currently an elementary school teacher and has been struggling with wanting to quit. I've been in the same situation when I was a teacher, and this book was really influential for me in learning how to find joy every day, even when it doesn’t seem possible. I hope that through this book she will find her joy in God no matter what her situation is.
$12: I bought my coworker flowers and a mason jar as a vase for her birthday. She came to work on her birthday and didn't really have anything planned, so I wanted to bring her a bit of joy! She and I have become close and have shared a lot of great conversations about faith (she is Muslim and I am Christian).
$9: I bought some cookies for my coworkers from a nearby cafe to add some joy to their day. One of my coworkers had kind of a difficult day at work, and I know that they all really enjoy the cookies from this cafe. I hope that we build more of a culture where we are intentionally kind to one another at work!
What was the "Intentional Act of Kindness" process like for you?
I wanted to use the $100 to encourage others and bring them joy! I specifically wanted to use it for people that I know personally but aren't necessarily close friends I would normally give something to. I wanted to challenge myself to bless people in my life who I don't normally think of.
In some ways, the process was harder than I thought it would be! $100 actually can go a long way, and I wanted to use it in a way that was really thoughtful and intentional. I thought it was wonderful how having the $100 made me look for opportunities to bless others and feel more freedom to be more generous. Although I did think carefully about the cost of each item, I felt more willing to spend more on others, such as bringing enough food to last the family for two meals instead of one. This process made me constantly think about how I could bless other people, and I especially enjoyed how it made me think about people in my life that I can care more about and be more intentional with, such as my coworkers.