Telling a Better Story

Written by Plant With Purpose on October 4, 2010 in General

by Aly Lewis, Grant Writer

“What we do comes out of who we believe we are.” –Rob Bell

It’s been awhile since I’ve burdened, I mean enlightened, you lovely blog readers with my most current literary and theological obsessions. Have no fear, the lull in my musings has officially ceased. All of this to preface my shameless ramblings about my latest re-obsession with books by Rob Bell, such as Velvet Elvis and Sex God. (Don’t worry, this won’t become an unsolicited book review and it will tie in to Plant With Purpose, I promise.)

I just want to share a few thoughts that have been thumping around in my head awaiting an audience like the bocce ball set that has been clunking around in the trunk of my car in hopes of a sunny day and a grassy knoll. 

So back to my initial quote: “What we do comes out of who we believe we are.” I came across this in one of Rob Bell’s books recently and was blindsided by the truth of it. As I writer, I’m enthralled by the beauty and joy of stories; as a person, I’m struck by the power of stories to shape my life and actions. I’ve seen the real and life-altering power of stories—about ourselves, about the world, about God—to tell us who we are and, subsequently, to shape the way we act. 

Places like Haiti have a pretty depressing story. When I work on grant proposals for our work in Haiti I start off writing about the poverty, the destruction of the recent earthquake, the massive hunger, the camps filled with thousands of internally displaced people, the severity of environmental degradation, the corruption. But that’s not the only story.

Don’t get me wrong, the needs are real. The pain is real. The desperation is real. But that doesn’t mean it’s the only story. And that doesn’t mean it’s the final story. At Plant With Purpose we seek to respond to these very real and very urgent needs. And in doing so, we hope to tell a different story. A better story.

Too often, the poor have been misled into believing they have no talents. One of the most meaningful and important aspects of our work is the process of empowerment. Through the process of community development, Plant With Purpose helps individuals and communities to discover and release those talents, utilizing their unique gifts to take hold of their problems, develop their own solutions, and ultimately build a better future. Literally, this means that we partner with communities to write and believe and live out a better story. Instead of words like ‘poor’ and ‘hopeless,’ we use words like ‘talents,’ ‘resources,’ and ‘gifts.’ The result is a restoration of people’s dignity and an increased capacity to initiate change. The result is a meeting of physical, emotional, and spiritual needs; in short, a better story. 

In countries like Haiti, there are great challenges, but there is also a great opportunity (and responsibility) to join with our brothers and sisters to tell a better story.

And that makes the writer—and the human—in me very happy.

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