How did/does your culture shape your perception of strength? : I grew up around some very strong Filipino women. When my birth mother left my dad and I, my grandma (my dad’s mom) helped raise me. She is a very “strong” Filipino woman. My dad met my step mom when I was 5 and she was also a “strong” Filipino woman. Not to mention all the aunties I saw around me who were also “strong” Filipino women. So I would say that my culture growing up was matriarchal with a lot of “strong” Filipino women around me.
So what did it mean to be a “strong” Filipino woman growing up? It meant being the rock for your family and not letting emotions get in the way of leading your family. Crying was a sign of weakness. It meant managing the household finances and disciplining the children. It meant always having the final say. It meant avoiding any issues to keep the peace in the household. It meant not talking about hard things and sweeping issues under the rug. Women in my culture felt pride and dignity in living out this perception of strength.
As I began to shape and form my own definition of strength, I experienced a lot of tension between what I had seen growing up and what I was discovering. My view of strength shifted from never showing any sign of weakness, to in my weakness there is strength because of Jesus. This continues to be a struggle for me but when I stay true to this belief, I know it only makes me stronger.
How have your trials made you stronger?: The biggest trial I have endured throughout my whole life is the abandonment I experienced from my mother as a baby. Since I was taught to push my feelings down and move on with life, this trauma came out in many ways throughout my life including depression, crippling anxiety, people-pleasing, and major avoidance just to name a few. I have had to learn to face my pain and hurt and that has made me stronger every time something comes up that is rooted in my abandonment. I’ve learned to accept the hurt and work through it instead of trying to avoid it. Every time I have to do this, it creates growth which for me, increases strength. When I learn something about myself and grow from it, it makes me feel stronger to face the next trial to come.
Cassee’s Intentional Acts of Kindness
How did you use your $100? I decided to give my $100 to a missionary who expressed a financial need on social media for some medical bills. She is literally counting on the generosity of other people to live, survive, and do what God is calling her to in San Francisco. I think that is extremely admirable and brave. She does ministry in the most dangerous part of the city with the most crime and drug abuse (The Tenderloin for those who know the Bay Area). She is young, single and SO brave! She works with women and children there to share Jesus and love with them in many different ways through her ministry.
What was the "Intentional Act of Kindness" process like for you? This process was honestly more difficult than I thought. I realized a lot of interesting things within myself. Since it was someone else's money that was given to me to give to someone else, I kept doubting every place that I wanted to give it. What if that isn't a worthy cause? What if it is not a good use of the money? But I had to realize that the whole point I was given the money was because I was trustworthy enough to steward it well.
I also had a hard time finding people "in need" of the money. I realized that people don't always talk about their financial situations openly because it's such a vulnerable thing. Also, that living in the suburbs of Portland, the term "need" is relative AND working from home limits my interactions with people outside my community. So it was difficult finding a place to give the money. I ended up giving it to someone outside of this area because I felt like the need was greater and I know what it's like living in San Francisco on a low income. I felt compassion and empathy for her which was the motivation in deciding to give the $100 to her.
Overall, it was a really neat and interesting experience. It really stretched me. It pushed me outside of my comfort zone and really got me thinking about money and generosity in a different way. I've never experienced anything like someone else giving me money to give to someone else so it was definitely a new experience for me.