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Journey of Grace
The Joy of Family
The Parents'
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The Rhythm of Life
United As One

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And They Shall Become One Flesh
By Rene McCollum

Married life began for Gary and me at the ripe old ages of 18 and 21. Many times, during those early years, I questioned my sanity and motivation for getting married at such a young age. Nevertheless, we took our marriage vows seriously, believing Godís dictate in Genesis 2:24: "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh." What God did not tell us, in the beginning, was that becoming one flesh would be a lifelong learning experience.

We met and started dating when I was the tender age of 15. Both of our families accepted us as mate-able material from the first. I do not think either one of us gave the subject of being lifetime mates too much thought; we just accepted we would always be together. Our first ten years produced three beautiful daughters. We owned our own home, drove functional cars, were pretty much up-to-date on all the latest gadgets, and we congratulated ourselves on being just like everyone else.

While everything appeared normal on the surface, I was secretly fighting a demon that sucked the life and joy out of what the Lord had blessed. I was suffering from severe chronic depression, and my world was crumbling around me.

Looking back now, I regret not recognizing Godís part in our marriage. Gary, while not particularly religious at that time, was the epitome of love, quiet strength, patience, and devotion. I freely took out my anger, hurt, and frustration on this wonderful man and our children. Divorce was a weekly topic of mine. Most of the time, I did not particularly care whether Gary was there or not.

It took years, but I now understand that depression is an illnessóone of Satanís most devastating; this one warps your mind and steals your soul.

By my late 30ís, this illness had taken its toll on me, both mentally and physically. I found myself devising different scenarios to end my life. The Lordís angels took hold of me before I could seriously act upon any plans; it had to be Godís intervention, as no one was ever going to know my shameful secret.

I remember it was a warm, late summer day. Out of nowhere, I found myself picking up the telephone and calling my family doctor. I was in the doctorís office crying and blubbering, obviously inconsolable. He was in shock, as I always appeared so normal.

I agreed to see a mental health professional that afternoon, who immediately put me on medication.

A miracle happened that dayónot a biblical miracle, but a miracle nonetheless. Not only did hope enter my life, but the Lord gave me a second chance to regain my love for my husband and family.

I still have battles with this demon; however, I now understand the meaning of Matthew 19:6: "So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man [or thing] separate."

I now let Gary help me; I let God work His wisdom through my beloved mate. My heart skips a beat whenever I think about what a lack of faith and trust almost did to separate me from both God and my family.

On December 30, 2005, Gary and I celebrated our 33rd wedding anniversary. I believe that from the day we met, God meant Gary and me to be together. In His wisdom, He knew that I would need Gary for my very survival. Knowing what I put this man through, I am in awe of the gifts He gave Gary to help me.

Despite my illness, with a great outpouring of grace from the Lord, our daughters have grown into intelligent, independent women without any lasting effects from my craziness. I have asked my Lord for forgiveness for past thoughts and actions, and I have accepted His forgiveness.

Gary and I, once again, are going through a trial in our marriage. A diagnosis of a motor neuron disease has left me with limited use of my legs. Once again, God is providing help through my lifetime mate. Gary bears the same character he did years ago, and abundantly more.

I cannot curse God for this disability, as I know He is testing me to see if I have learned what He has been trying to teach me. I thank the Lord every day for His life lessons. I have learned how to love, how to accept love, and how to trust. I have learned kindness, joy and peace. Most of all, I am thankful for my husband and family. We are all of one flesh, with God as our foundation.

(Scripture taken from the New King James Version of the Bible)
Rene McCollum hasbeen married to Gary for 33 years, and is the mother of three grown daughters, and grandmother to four. She shares her life with her husband, four dogs and three cats. They all live together in a campy log cabin, in beautiful Southwest Virginia. You may write to Rene care of the Letters page of this magazine.