Here is my interview with Sheila Guion, the author of The Corps, The Cross & The Mirror.
Q: In your book, you describe the "mirror" conversion experience. This seems so unusual to me--Weren't there other Christians who had been talking to you before this, who had an influence on you?
This is such a powerful question because we as Christians are sometimes reluctant to talk to non-believers about the Lord. Strangely, enough I can recall most every time someone talked to me about Jesus. I heard the words, but still I couldn’t relate. I had no clue that Jesus was the missing link between me and God. So, when my ex-husband and I reluctantly accepted my great aunt’s invitation to church, we thought we were doing her a favor. She wanted us to know Jesus, but as only real “sinners” could do - we slept through most of the service. She didn’t condemn us for that; instead, she waited patiently and loved us unconditionally.
There were also co-workers and neighbors too, who told me verbally or by their lifestyle about Jesus. So that was more than thirty years of ignoring, denying, and rejecting God. Those seeds; however, were not sown in vain. Why? Because God knew what it would take for me to surrender (all). By the time I had reached the mirror, I was out of options. There was no where else to run, so I cried out to Him. His love was unrelenting, and in full pursuit of me anyway. Finally, He captured me. Now I’m a prisoner of love. I can only hope to be as gracious to others as He has been to me. That fuels my passion for others to know Him.
Q: I have heard that there are many Christian believers in the military. After your conversion, did you meet other believers in the Corps who were supportive, or did most ridicule you?
I don’t have numbers, but it’s not unusual to find people of faith in the military. Most military installations have clergy and weekly services to accommodate Christians as well as other religious groups. I had an awareness of religious activities, but no desire or perceived need for God. Following my conversion, it hit me; there was only one other person in our company who was bold in faith about Christ. She was so happy for me, but she was in the process of leaving, so that left me on my own. If I needed to be around other Christians, I didn’t know it. The training schedule was never ending, and whatever time I had left was spent exploring this new world I had discovered in the bible. It was about a year later before I started connecting with other believers in the Marine Corps. We did regular bible studies and fellowship meetings; it seemed so natural. But now it really makes more sense. Think about it. As long as there are wars, faith will always play a major role in military affairs. You can quote me on that one!
Q: Did you meet other believers who could help you read the bible, find a church, etc? How did you happen to find them?
The transformation from non-Christian to Christian happened so fast it shocked me, and everyone around me. Overnight, I went from “Psycho D.I.” to “Cool, Calm Professional.” Instead of fighting against the system, I quietly started doing what I was reading in the gospels. I was used to doing unto others before they did unto me, but Jesus flipped the script. He said do unto others, what you would have them do to you. Sometimes this was tough, but the more I read (and applied) the word of God, the more I changed. When I would veer to the right or left, immediately I felt the distance (between me and Him). This was quite remarkable, and how I thought every Christian interacted with God. It didn’t take long to figure out that I needed to stay close to Him. God also sent other Christians into my life, but He Himself had laid the foundation. This did not make me a super Christian, but helped me to seek and know God for myself. But no man is an island. Of course God led me to good ministries and godly Christians who added tremendously to my spiritual growth.
Q: Has your experience in the Corps enabled you to help or counsel other young women in the same circumstances?
It’s been said that nothing is ever wasted in God’s economy. That was the bases on which I wrote The Corps, The Cross & The Mirror. God can turn a mess into a message of hope. It’s my life wrapped in God’s grace, making an appeal to anyone who reads the book. Being a woman, of course I’m going to identify primarily with women and our issues. When I retired from the Marine Corps, my first job was as a counselor to victims of domestic violence. Only God could have arranged this job assignment. These women needed protection from their abusers, but also compassion, and occasionally a good dose of tough love:)
If I had gotten this job before my conversion, I would have been trying to whip these ladies into shape. I would have been telling them they could do anything they put their mind to do. And to some degree that would have been true, but the last thing they needed was a drill instructor using bootcamp tactics on them chanting “mind over matter.” On the other hand, they didn't need anyone feeling sorry for them either. Here’s where God’s wisdom and favor prevailed. While this was a non-religious organization, my boss had no problem with me praying with and for these women. Given the stressful nature of the job, I had to also realize my own limitations. God had to do the changing. My job was to love unconditionally. So, now I just remain open to what God is already doing, and join in because He’s always at work.
Q: Looking back, what was it that got you first thinking about spiritual things?
I can’t say there was any one thing that got me thinking about spiritual things, but a culmination of things triggered by a serious bout of depression. Generally speaking, I was a very optimist person. There was never a situation that I didn’t think I could overcome. I had been well trained. I was a Marine. I was Invincible! I was Unstoppable! That was until I met my match - Depression! I loved running, but I was so depressed, I found it hard to even lace up my shoes. Those were dark days. But I now know I had to come to the end of myself. Otherwise, who knows if I would have ever invited Jesus into my heart. Here’s an analogy that might be helpful.
Imagine spokes on the wheel of a bike. That’s how God used people, events, and circumstances to bring my life full circle to Him. One single spoke (away from a bike) seems insignificant, but with other spokes and mounted to a wheel its functional and useful. The car accident was a spoke; the rifle range was a spoke; bad relationships were spokes, and of course, every time someone talked to me about the Lord, those were spokes. In short, God reassembled my life and made me a functioning part of the Body of Christ. Now the ride has meaning and purpose, as I go over the hills and around the bends of life. He is with me.
Thanks, Sheila, for sharing your experience with us!