Growing Up in Marriage…Perfectly Flawed
by Tena L. Parker
Bookside Press

"I needed God to give me a second chance at life."

Author and spiritual aspirant Parker has given over much of this latest work to confessions. From her lengthy introduction forward throughout this series of religious-based essays, she focuses on many multi-layered issues surrounding marriage, womanhood, and manhood, utilizing biblical parables and metaphors designed to guide readers to new vistas. One of her first images is that of the mirror—her way of looking, not at a physical mirror, but at an internal one that she has named her "mirror experience." Examining herself frankly, she knows that the experience always indicates her need for a "God intervention."

Her personal dilemma, the war waging within her spirit, is based around her discouragement concerning her divorce. She and her husband were together in marriage for seventeen years, but when the possibility of divorce was raised, it became their reality, preceded by separation. Now she quietly agonizes, wondering how she can rectify the circumstances and recoup the relationship that seems clearly so vital to the couple's Christian perspective. Recognizing that part of her problems stems from hormonal deficiencies that she has suffered from all her life, she offers revealing information that could help other women facing the same unusual symptoms. But too, she admits to a sense of selfishness that has also been her burden.

Throughout her vividly presented, candid, and introspective search for meaning and respite, Parker quotes from biblical lore and reaches deep within her own troubled thinking, admitting that her situation may never change as she wishes but always expressing hope and prayer aimed at the possibility of that positive change. Her formula for improvement will entail these qualities: honesty, faith, surrender, soul-searching, acceptance, humility, willingness, forgiveness, maintenance, contact, and service.

Parker's thought processes come from a woman both intelligent and humble. She embodies a rich personal example: a well-educated, professional black female, a determined Christian, and someone who can regret past flaws yet be thankful that while she once thought she had all the answers, God has shown her that she doesn't. Her writing in this soul-searching composition gives the impression of someone used to talking to herself, questioning and at times ridiculing her limited solutions compared with God's timeless wisdom. She styles herself as having once lived on "Chaotic Confusion Drive." She invites readers to appreciate the positive qualities of each season, each life situation, deriving guidance for herself not only from the Bible but from TV sitcoms. She offers to those experiencing marital crises an acronym given to her by the Holy Spirit: PICKLL—passion, intimacy, communication, kissing, laughter, and love.

Parker urges people in other crises, such as addiction and alcoholism, to follow her lead and use their new understandings to help others. Within her work, the reader will find frustration, humor, and inspiration for moving forward through a variety of human failings with God's oversight. Employing lively examples, a willingness to admit vulnerability and learn to make better choices, and a strong sense that God will be with her at each new step, Parker has penned a book designed for outreach which can easily be used for the study of Christian values by thoughtful readers at any stage of life.

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