The Corps, The Cross & The Mirror: Reflections of Faith : Sheila Perdue Guion
The decisions we make and the choices we decide upon are ours and ours alone. Finding our own path and hoping that the forks in the road that take us on many different journeys will be the right ones. But, sometimes life hands us some raw deals and difficult times and we falter. Taking blame for our mistakes, sins and wrong doings not always easy and admitting that we need some help and guidance necessary. But, how many people are willing to face the fact that they needed help? That their careers were falling by the wayside, their personal lives and relationships were tethered and frayed and the truth was staring back at you and each of us as we look into a full length mirror, see the person who is really staring back and take stock of our faults, decide on the changes we need to make and hope that someone will guide us.
Sheila Perdue Guion shares her own very compelling and heart breaking stories about a tough Drill Instructor in the US Marine Corps whose pride, personality, competitive personality would hopefully help her to outside the rest. She begins her journey with readers with A Sinner’s Prayer which focuses on what she sees within the glass of a mirror. Her reflection reminds her of what is wrong and how her appearance has changed. What happens when you think you have taken a destructive road and your life needs to be repaired? Being highly motivated when joining the Marine Corps in 1989 the author never thought that being a Staff Sergeant and doing her job would not reap the kind of rewards she hoped for. She needed to rethink, revisit and assess herself before she would be whole.
Depression is not a new problem. There are many who are diagnosed with this and who seek help as the author did. But, learning how to deal with it, find ways to cope with depression and hopefully rid herself of the anxiety, anger and feelings was going to take time. The signs were there: sleeplessness, exhaustion and just overall sadness. But, meeting with a therapist was not going to be the quick fix she wanted or needed.
Sharing a incident on the Rifle range would bring into question after you read what occurred whether she was at fault and deserved the punishment and reprimands she received. The choices we make belong to us and no one else. As she shares some of her dating experiences that went wrong, a honeymoon and marriage that went bad and issues that involved dating, men and our feelings when things go wrong not so foreign to anyone reading this insightful book.
But, stress levels are tested as she relates in the chapter titled: When It Rains. As some say when it rains it often pours and her troubles were just beginning as the words Congressional Inquiry would ring out loud and clear. Next, she learns to deal with her soon to be ex-husband and describes their breakup. It is almost so clinical and cold the way it was handled and no intervention was required. But, there are 10 things that the author brings inside or to the mirror that will clarify much of what she felt as I share them with you:
Every journey starts at the beginning at the author flashes back to the early days when she first met her husband, was sent to Camp Lejeune and got into an accident that totally her car but gave her the first reality check she needed to realize that things needed to change. Then she goes back to Okinawa, Japan and we learn about her 12 month stint there which was the longest she had ever been away from her family. Meeting many different people that she describes as work-a-holics, alcoholics or physical fitness freaks, she allowed herself to fit into any one of the categories. But, while her battalion was preparing for inspection she was recovering from a huge hangover. It was at this point she realized that her life was once again spared, looking into the mirror she saw someone that had been hit by a tractor. She new that God had saved her again but for how long!
Who to Blame other than yourself? Will God restore her and help her? Was it My Mother is the chapter that focuses on her relationship with her mother and the loss of her father’s presence in her home as the first face you will see along with the author’s which is the central one within the glass of this mirror is one that shows: Mother –daughter issues. Next, you will see right under this face another as the author relates Was It My Dad? In the chapter that deals with living with her grandparents and a dad that was not there. To this part of the mirror she brings: father-daughter issues.
Next where she lived that made her the way she turned out? She lived in a place where kids were tough, gang fights, girls became parents at an early age and housing projects were not the best environment. Growing up in this type of environment helped her to survive but to the next line within this mirror she brings trust issues. Was it My Grandparents: where she talks about living with them, not being abused and watching her grandparents get drug and fight. Alcoholism was the next that she brings to the mirror. Was It the Devil? Did he control what was happening to her and preventing God from helping her? “Jesus is a true hero, the One who sacrificed Himself for all humanity.” It is at this point she is about to change and starts to realize that God was her solution. Praying that night in the bathroom and facing the mirror and saying the prayer was real. The Lord and Savoir : she asked him and told him that she would repent her sins and then things she hoped would change. As she next learned during her stay at Camp Lejeune the meaning of the word Racism and to the mirror she brings the affects of racism. Talking about the influence of the media and how the media and information pipelines have changes is the focus of the next chapter and to the mirror she adds she brings her skewed vision of God. Was it College is next and she tells about the many classes she tried and the times she did not succeed. Academic rejection is seen at the top on the right side of the mirror and followed by what happens when an educator has an impact on a student that is negative and molds their thinking as an adult: Staring back at her was the little girl in the first grade. There are four more faces that she brings to the mirror before her revelation and things changed. But, first the last four faces are: faulty religion, failing career in the Marines and then surrendering herself to God. One night visit would change it all as the author shares what happens when a flash of lightning races across the sky and into her bedroom window. But, to find out just how this impacted her life and what created the peace within her you need to read Night Visit for yourself and then Awakened Thirst. Captured By Love focuses on what she learned about Jesus and how he created “ a sin created a gulf between God and mankind. Jesus, the Son of God died on Calvary’s cross to bridge the gap between Holy God and sinful man.” Imagining getting that message and having rejected and ignored it before and now she was captured by Love. Within the chapter Learning Curve she shares what happens that affected her life, and her career as a nee DI. Learning how to deal with recruits in a different way other than yelling and screaming learning how to learn from her mistakes quite telling. A one -vehicle accident provided more than just a wake up call and a startling truth would change it all. After that one night she found the Bible, read it and realized the many things she never learned before. It was as if she was a dried sponge that became wet and was absorbing all of the knowledge within this sponge without squeezing out the water.
How did she develop a new outlook, release her anger and realize that her life was going to be different from now on? Reading the Bible was first and learning more about Jesus next. The final chapters Restoration, What He did For Me, Honor where her platoon excelled and got the most awards, saying it was God that made it happened and she honored him and he honored her, are just some of the chapters that readers need to read for themselves to truly understand the transformation that was taking place in the author. Deliverance which focuses on her smoking and giving up alcohol and cigarettes and how, Reconciliation where she and her father finally find some common ground find out what happened to change everything between them and How she met the man of her dreams on Surprise Surprise and finally Divine Healing, Promotions Come From God and Graduating College in I Did it, My Boy talking about her son and the final chapters I will leave to readers to learn just how her life changed, where she is now and the prayer that she includes for everyone to read for anyone that has not gotten things right between you and God yet. (101). But the author brings us back to the mirror and find out what she sees now and how looking deep inside your own mirror might change your world when you ask Him to show you your need for Him and He Will.
Told in the first person from personal experiences that book teaches many lessons in life that teens, young adults and adults can learn from. Choices and decisions are all your own but when you make bad ones and your life takes a downward spiral find out what author Sheila Perdue Guion did to climb back up.
Fran Lewis: Reviewer