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Intimacy Hangover

Have you ever had that feeling like the world is just moving on without you? That you've had some profound internal (and thus invisible to the world) shift that causes you to feel, think or see the world differently and it is simply unfathomable that the world doesn't see or mirror this change? Like you are awake, only to realize everyone else is still sleeping.

An example could be the loss of someone near and dear to you: grief consumes days, weeks, months... and when you finally come up for air at some point, you are "alone" and everyone else is continuing to live life, seemingly without you.

Or you've had incredible experiences and interactions at summer camp or spent a semester abroad in another country or culture, only to return changed to your world that is unchanged, unmoved, unaffected by what you've seen and heard and done.

This past weekend was my third 4-day intensive for the Training Certificate in Narrative Focused Trauma Care at the Allender Center in Seattle, WA. The training is excellent, the speakers are gifted and knowledgeable, and the information is useful. But more than that, the time spent doing group work, where we put our training into practice, is the real treasure. In group we participate, do the holy and scared work of, engaging each others' stories of trauma and harm using the tools, resources and knowledge we've gained in our readings and instruction-time in the presences of a seasoned and gifted story-sage facilitator.

I have described this group work to my friends back home as having my insides on the

outside. It was jarring at first, to "spill" my guts, the deep places of shame and harm to people who don't even know my kids' names... But after three 4-day intensives (what honestly feels like years!) these group members have become my brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, caring for me with curious and kind eyes, hearing with hearts of love and a desire to see my goodness, and offering healing words that are like salve to an open wound.

It was a taste of heaven.

Dan Allender, the founder of the Allender Center, warned us: You can not have this moment again. You have had a taste of the goodness of God in the land of the living. A taste. This level of intimacy and care received here is not often replicated "out there" in our daily lives. The temptation will be to try to hold on to this, to stay. But alas at the end of our time together, we all head to our homes--scattered all across America.

And so, as I am at home processing the week, the new information and resources, the places where I have been seen and heard in my own story work, the hope for the final four-day intensive in March, I am left in a kind of intimacy hangover. My world, my family, my husband and kids, my friends and co-workers... they have not experienced this taste of heaven. I have. And I am internally and eternally changed.

Intimacy Hangover: the jolting experience of coming out of a place of intimacy, vulnerability, attunement, containment, and repair that leave one with a state of weariness and longing for more, while simultaneously bringing a sense of awe and gratitude for being seen and heard.

I am grateful for my husband, who not only makes it possible for me to do this elite training by taking care of the kids while I'm away, but who also took the day off to spend with me the day after I returned so we could re-connect and unpack the week together.

I am grateful for my friends, near and far, who prayed for me while I was away this weekend, who offered kind support in a text message, or who listened as I processed my experience over a long walk or a cup of coffee (or in my case a glass of water ;-).

I am in awe of the ways God has been moving in my story and how I get the joy and pleasure to see how it affects others; the way God is using my story and my gifts for the benefit of those around me.

I am in awe of the profound impact of the 7 strangers that have become seers into my soul, healers into my hurt, and truth-tellers to the beauty and the brokenness that we each hold.

May it be on earth as it is in heaven.

That, my friends, is hope.

"You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor." Psalm 8:5


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