Fallen Soldiers March®

Site Name

Fallen Soldiers March® 501 (c) (3) non-profit

Site Name

Fallen Soldiers March®

Tagline

A 501 (c) (3) Non-Profit Dedicated to
Providing Biblical Counseling,
Service Dogs, and Veteran Advocacy

Elma’s MST Adversity Marathon

Elma’s MST Adversity Marathon

by Elma Bunch with epilogue by Pastor Warren Lamb

I am titling my testimony "Walking Through" because for me, healing was not immediate. It took me years, and I had to "walk through" the process of remembering, forgiving, letting go, and most of all believing I was worthy of the healing I asked God to bring me.

Have you ever read a Bible verse repeatedly and each time you read it, it revealed something new? Well, that is how my relationship is with God. He gives me only what I can handle in that moment. Healing is a process—not a sprint, but a marathon. God will not give us more than we can handle, and He will never leave us nor forsake us. It took me an extremely long time to grasp and believe those promises and understand I am worthy of them!

I served in the United States Marine Corps for 13 years. The first four were on active duty and the remaining nine were in the Reserves. I come from a family of service members: my dad served 30 years in the Marines; my older brother served in the Marines for 15 years; as I mentioned, I served 13 years; my younger sister served 26 years in the Navy; and my younger brother served four years in the Air Force. None of us ever thought about college until we were out of the military. Now we all have degrees. Both my sons joined the Marines right out of high school.

My service began November 16, 1978. I was 18 and ready to do my part to protect and serve our great nation. However, things did not go as well as I thought they would. During my first year of active duty, I was raped twice. The first time I reported the rape, but nothing was done. I was told nothing could be done because it was a "he said, she said" situation. The man who raped me was my SNCOIC (boss). I had to continue working with him day in and day out. He often told me that women Marines were in the service for the male Marines’ pleasure. It was torture being in the same office with him every day.

I started drinking heavily and doing drugs. All I wanted to do was numb the pain and embarrassment I was feeling. Even sitting here typing my story is difficult, but a healthy step for me. I remember telling God, "If I could help just one person with my story, then everything I have been through would be worth it!" My desire is to give God all the glory for bringing me through all that happened.

The second time I was raped it was in my own home, late at night. I do not know who he was, but he knew me. Then I endured late night calls asking me if I had enjoyed it! He told me he would be back and the next time it would be even better—better for him and worse for me.

I did not report this rape, because I was already being labeled as a whore, easy, a good . . . It was easier for me to bury everything and move on with my life the best I could.

For more than 40 years I buried those memories. But on February 1, 2000, I started having nightmares, disrupted sleep, and insomnia and became fearful of everyone (including my husband). I refused to leave the house and I cried all the time.

I did not know what was happening at the time, but as I look back on those days, I believe God was telling me it was time to deal with my past. God’s timing! It is always perfect, even if we cannot see it at the time.

I ended up in Vanderbilt Psychiatric Hospital for a month. It was hard, but it was also necessary because I could not function. I was diagnosed with severe PTSD, insomnia, hypervigilance, major depression, agoraphobia, and anxiety. I need to add that I did not have a relationship with the Lord at the time of the rapes. I did, however, have a relationship with the Him when my memories reared their ugly head!

Even though I knew the Lord, I did not know how much He loved me. I struggled with thoughts of suicide. I harmed my body by cutting, hitting, and biting myself. I knew it was wrong, but it was the only way I knew how to feel my pain.

Shortly after my memories returned, I lost my relationship with my husband, children, church, and close friends. They did not know how to help, so it was easier for them just to walk away. Some tried to help by telling me Christians should not be depressed and that I needed to improve my relationship with God, pray more, pray harder, and get some exercise because it would help me feel better. But they did not understand the loss I was feeling.

I had no one to lean on except for my therapists, and I am grateful I had them. I really wanted to kill myself—not because I wanted to hurt my family but because I needed to be held, comforted, and understood. I needed someone who would understand and love me despite what had happened to me. I knew deep in my soul that when I got to heaven Jesus would hold me and He would not let go until I was ready.

I never attempted suicide, but I came close. I had a plan, but I could not do it. I really do know that those who gave me advice were trying to help, but their words only made me hate myself more. They made me believe that I was not good enough for God, or I was not a strong enough Christian.

I went through years of pain and heartache, but I am here to let you know that it was worth every bit of it. I am much stronger for all I went through. I can honestly say I would not go back and change a thing. God really does use what was intended to harm us, intentional or unintentional, into something amazing.

I tried several different avenues for my healing. I saw psychiatrists and therapists. I did Bible studies, homeopathic treatments, meditation, journaling, poetry writing, and praying, and I attended support groups. I do not regret any of those paths because they got me through that season in my life. However, the biggest change came when I found the Fallen Soldiers March organization.

I was asking everyone I knew where I might get some information on how to obtain a service dog when my VA rep told me about Fallen Soldiers March. That was a blessing from God. The day I contacted them, I was told a service dog had just been returned to them! God’s timing! After I filled out a request form and told my story, I was gifted with a service dog. The best part was that her name was GLORY! I received Glory that following Veterans Day.

Jim Retzke, president of Fallen Soldiers March, told me about their biblical counseling. At first I was kind of "on the fence," but then I thought, What could it hurt, right? I loved the Lord, so I started biblical counseling, but it did not last. Not because it is a bad program but because I was not ready to do the work.
Healing requires INTENT! Intent requires action and action requires work! Yes, I said work—you must be willing to put in a lot of hard work to be successful in your healing. It took a lot of work to get through the ugliness of my past. And it will take a lot of work for you to get through the ugliness of your past! Just going through the motions does not work! But I promise you, if you do the work, saturate on God’s Word, and believe you are everything God says about you, you will be glad you put your heart and soul into your healing. No one can do the work but you!

Back in September of 2019 Jim contacted me again about Pastor Warren Lamb. He told me if I wanted to start back with biblical counseling, Pastor Lamb would love to work with me. Contacting Pastor Lamb was the best decision I had made in the previous two decades.

The first time I talked with the pastor, he was amazing. He explained to me how he counsels and that we would be starting with the book Unbound. Between the Lord, Pastor Lamb, and Unbound, I am here to declare that I have had more growth in every area of my life during biblical counseling than any other season of my life. You see, everything else I tried worked for only that season of my life, but this program changed me through and through. The biggest thing I learned about myself was that I was believing the lies people had been telling me all my life and that Satan wanted me to believe the lies— lies such as I am not worthy, I am loser, I am good only for sex, I will never amount to anything, I am stupid, I am worthless, I am not wanted, I was a mistake, I . . .

You get the point! Even though I gave my life to Christ April 11, 1982, at the age of 21, no one has ever discipled me like Pastor Lamb has. Once I accepted and believed what God says about me (about all of us), I started seeing myself the way God does. Then the Holy Spirit started moving through me as never before. I stopped living through my Avatar (Chapter 4 of Unbound), and now people are beginning to see the real me. I know, it is a scary thought! I still have my moments of fear and rejection, but I no longer stay there for days at a time. Regardless of what I might be feeling, I just claim God’s Word and His promises. I learned in Unbound that feelings are real, but they are not the truth! What a revelation!! My feelings change on a whim, but the truth does not!
If you are considering biblical counseling and you are ready to put your all into it, you will not regret it!

Blessings to all and in the name of Jesus,
Elma Bunch

Epilogue
Elma's Journey and Transformation through the Eyes of Her Fellow Marine Veteran and Certified Biblical Counselor, Pastor Warren Lamb

In the fall of 2019, Jim Retzke of Fallen Soldiers March reached out to me and asked if I had room in my calendar to provide specialized counseling care for a woman Marine veteran. When he described the turmoil she was in at the time, my saying yes was the most natural response I could make. After all, a fellow believer and a sister Marine was in trouble!

Elma and I began meeting via Zoom within a short time, and it was apparent that the darkness of the trauma and abuse she had experienced were being kept at bay, but barely. We discussed key truths that our counseling team talk about with every trauma survivor we meet with.

We discussed how our history is not our destiny. Our history does not define us; it merely explains us. The way God defines us is who we really are, and God defines us as His priceless image bearers.

 

One of the challenges faced by trauma survivors is that the toxic shame they carry ("this is who I am") has been saturated into their minds and hearts and souls more than the truths of Scripture.
So, this is where we begin: saturating on the Word of God and the truths it contains. We help counselees take God’s truth and roll it over and over in their minds in place of the lies and self-loathing messages they have been saturating with.

Romans tells us that what we saturate our minds with is what we live and believe (Romans 8:6). And the way we experience the caterpillar-into-butterfly transformation brought only by the Holy Spirit is through the renewing (replacing with new thoughts) of our minds (Romans 12:2).

As Elma began daily saturating her mind and heart with God’s truth, she began to be able to understand it, to connect with it, and to believe it. She already had an intellectual understanding of the basic truths, but they were stuck in her thinking.

As she diligently read and saturated on the truth every day (what else would a Marine do with a mission?), and as we counseled together regularly, she began to recognize that her thinking and her believing were holding more steadily to God’s truth and the lies were quieting down and being replaced.

Yes, she went through emotional and spiritual pits of darkness and gloom during the months of counseling. But those pits got shallower and further apart until she was living more and more in the reality that she is God’s adopted daughter, that no one can take that away from her, and that, no matter what anyone else thinks, says, or does, being "in Christ" is always going to be her identity.

The joy of the Lord has become her baseline for life. She and the Lord did the work; I had the honor of being His instrument for helping this sister along the journey.

Jesus Christ and the Word of God are mightier than any darkness we have witnessed, any evil we have been involved in, and anything contrary to God’s Word that we have believed. It is always a delight to see one of God’s adopted children lay hold of and learn to live out the freedom that Christ died to give them.

Becoming part of the Fallen Soldiers March biblical counseling team is a yes I will always be glad for.

 

SDG
Warren Lamb

 

. . . .
 
If you are Veterans or a friend/family member of a Veteran and would like request our counseling, please use the link below:

Request Biblical Counseling

If you are a counselor and would like to join our network, please use the link below:

Join the FSM Biblical Counselor Network

If you like what you've read , sign up to receive quarterly newsletter articles and updates via email!

Email Newsletter Signup Form

 

 

 

This entry was posted on Thursday, June 24th, 2021 at 4:07 pm and is filed under Featured, Newsletter, Spotlight. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.



Comments are closed.



© 2020-2021 Fallen Soldiers March®. All Rights Reserved • Website Design by Visionary Design Group