As I watch Arthritis At Home and Arthritis Consumer Experts from the sidelines, I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be in community with others. Community (communities) can be people you actually live with, or work closely with, but it can also include people you’ve never met but share a common goal and as it turns out, are all working together in some way, shape or form to meet this goal.
Along this line, there’s been a phrase banging around in my head for a while, challenging me to really consider how I respond and interact with my (numerous) community members…ok…here’s the phrase…
When living in community, “What happens to one of us happens to all of us.”
One of the teens in our home has been struggling with their mental health for a couple of years and together as a household, we love and encourage them, learn with them and make ourselves available when they needs our support. Although they are not one of my own children, I am experiencing life alongside them and “feel” the ups and downs of their day.
Their struggle is my “struggle”…they are my community….
Another interaction that really got me thinking about this idea, was a conversation I had with a 70 year old woman at my church. Just from looking at her it would appear she has been struggling with some sort of inflammatory disease for a very long time, which has truly taken its toll on her body. She knows I have RA and sought me out to ask me, very specifically, “What should I do about my arthritis?” She then proceeded to show me her hands, riddled with nodules and the tell-tale signs of an inflammatory disease (which in her case are significant joint deviations and deformities), and followed it up with a list of other maladies, none the least of which is her inability to sleep well…or really at all…😭
I thanked her for sharing her struggles with me and that I was so sorry to hear of her suffering. I then asked her a few questions about the ongoing care she receives, her medications and any other things she is doing to reduce the inflammation in her body. She didn’t know about inflammation…just pain, and thought that’s what her medications were supposed to help with…she didn’t know the name of her arthritis but my guess is Psoriatic Arthritis – noticeable plaques, Rx mediations she takes etc…and mostly…she doesn’t know what to do about how quickly her function is declining.
I truly “felt” her pain…she is my community…
During Arthritis Awareness Month in Canada, I am inspired by the many advocates and organizations in the arthritis community that have made and continue to make waves and impressions, challenging the way many people see and understand Arthritis care and the impact it has on the lives it affects. I love the community’s determination to influence and change the delivery of care, especially to remote places in our country, like our First Nations brothers and sisters…your passion is contagious, and you ARE making a difference!
I am celebrating “with” you and cheering you on…you are my community…
Life is better when we intentionally live in community. We hold each other up when we can’t make it on our own and we celebrate personal and collective victories together (a bigger party is always better! Amirite?! LOL). But living in community can be hard, very hard. It can illuminate our own shortcomings, especially when we allow ourselves to fully engage and interact with what is happening in our community. It moves us from comfortable places to places and spaces where we face new challenges and are left with the realization that our own personal growth is required…but it’s still a better way to live and be.
May your day be filled with much sunshine and with people who know and recognize your true worth. May you find community with those around you and beyond, to live, work and experience joy with, enriching each other’s lives, growing together and supporting each other…knowing…we are better together.
person with rheumatoid arthritis