Dear Callahan

Dearheart, I write to you as you are on that November night in 2007,

In 9 years, you will not believe that it is possible for humans to hear the voice of an anthropomorphic supernatural entity recognized by the Christian church to be the creator of the universe. But here's the thing that you will never get over: you are going to think that you hear a very clear message tonight at your campus ministry's worship service.

You will think that you hear a voice that tells you the one thing that you don't want to be true. "You need to break up with him." It will have no context, it will have no prelude. It will come completely out of left field and it will knock you, quite literally, to the floor. You will cry in a way you didn't know was possible for the human body. You will have no words to express your deep sadness and your deep understanding. You will be prayed over, hands will be laid on you, your friends will speak in tongues over you. The service will continue, there will be much "falling out in the spirit." Folks will say later that it was a powerful night, that you were one person in many who felt these things in that place. But you will still be in the fetal position on the floor, reckoning with the thing that you do not want to be true.

What you don't understand is that you have not heard the voice of God, but have realized a deep truth from a seat of wisdom that women have known about since we were finger-painting in caves. You're a smart girl and you put together the logical conclusion to the events that you are experiencing these days. Your emotionally-charged world will react to this truth as if it was an external supernatural force. It's not. It's just a truth. The cortisol that your body is releasing through these tears is healthy and necessary. Let it happen.

After about 45 minutes of body-shaking sobs, you will be filled with a beautiful lightness and joy. This is your body's adrenal glands rebalancing themselves. Your mind has just been through an electrochemical hurricane and this is the endorphin response to an exhausting experience. You are going to interpret this "sunshine after the rain" to be a "sign" that you don't actually need to do the thing that you need to do, but that it was a "test" to see if you would "submit to God's will" enough to at least agree to do the thing that you don't want to do. Convoluted, yes, but so is most of the logic you surround yourself with these days.

You will go up to him and tell him your experience and he will do two things. One is that he will not take your experience seriously. This is a bright red flag, dearheart. This is how it will always be. The second thing is that he will tell you that of course you aren't going to break up, because he didn't hear the same message from God.

Stop him there. Stop him in the middle of the street, with campus traffic passing on either side of you. Stop him before you get across the quad and back to the lulling comfort of the dorm. Stop before you get back in your car and drive away from the evening. Stop him, look him in the face and tell him that it is over.

That will change everything. That will change the course of history.

If you do that, you will prove to yourself that you have the lady-balls to take on anything you put your mind to. You will look at all the subtle oppressions that you have allowed to take over your life and you will be righteously angry. You will focus on school. You will take your degree seriously. You will take fun seriously. You will take your classroom friendships seriously. You will meet boys who will become men who will challenge your mind. You will learn that the power that you possess is independent of the men in your life. You will learn that you should never take someone else's word on the subject of your life and happiness.

Listen to these deep places of knowing, because the intuition and wisdom that you carry inside you, dearheart, is more powerful than you know. The power that you put outside yourself and give names like "Yahweh" and "Lion of Judah" is not outside of your body any more than your uterus is. 

The self that is writing this letter did not stop him in the middle of the street, at 9 o'clock on a Wednesday. This self went through one soul-torturing week after another that became months that became years. So much time wasted on dogmatic tedium and mind-numbing platitudes. So much of herself was lost in other people's definitions of her. When she finally made the call that you can make tonight, it was too late for many, many things. She had missed many, many exits towards interesting and exciting challenges that could have offered inspiring love and courageous careers. She's making it work. She's getting things done now - but she's having to go about it backwards, learning, now at almost-30, the things that you can easily put in motion at almost-20.

It's hard work. Either way, in either decision, it is hard work. But let this night be your first lesson: listen to that deep wisdom that comes out of left field and knocks you to the ground sobbing. That is the guiding force for every decision you will ever need to make in your life. It is a wild power that will grow with you as you come into your womanhood. Listen closely to that wolf howling in your chest.

This is the sign you've been waiting for. Now is the moment.

Love,
Callahan