“Between my need for acceptance and desire to do the right thing, I worked very hard to be the good girl and sought approval from friends, teachers, and parents,” said Kora Lehmann. “I heard the gospel on the radio when I was eight. I knew Jesus died for my sins, but the church my family attended had a very legalistic view of Christianity that, in time, was passed on to me.
“When I was five, I was sexually abused by a friend’s father. This experience immediately planted seeds of shame in my heart, and I felt like I was never accepted. I was striving to be good and to obey the rules while struggling with insecurity about who I was. As I grew older, I became tired of trying to fit in and be accepted in the Christian community. I felt like there was a standard I could never meet.
“In junior high, I thought that if I couldn’t fit in by being good, I could fit in by being bad. I started to rebel as I searched for acceptance. But each high only increased my shame. In the end, these outlets left me feeling even more unlovable and unaccepted.
“As I searched for hope and peace in worldly things, I became pregnant at 17. This unexpected change brought me to a place where I couldn’t use alcohol or relationships to escape. I felt like I was at my rock bottom and realized I had a decision to either follow Christ or continue down the destructive path I was on. “Having my son, Alex, gave me a reason to live differently. I went back to church when he was 10 months old. I thought I was going to church for my son, but I didn’t realize God wanted me, too. The church embraced me as a single mom and believed I had something to offer – gifts, talents, and worth. Jesus was what I had been looking for all along. I knew He brought life, joy, peace, hope, and freedom.
“Around this same time, I started a relationship with a guy who claimed to be a Christian. The way he lived his life and treated our relationship was very legalistic and controlling. When I shared my past with him, he didn’t respond in grace or love. He tried to control how I ate, which fueled feelings of shame towards my body and weight.
“A decision to move to Garland with my son and parents uprooted my sense of community and connection to a local church. I felt so isolated and alone. After our move, my relationship with my boyfriend ended, and I was filled with feelings of isolation and loneliness. I tried to numb my emotions with binge eating – dieting during the day and binging at night. That led to struggles with health issues and significant weight gain. The freedom I knew Christ offered was still pulling on my heart, and I started to attend a sexual abuse recovery ministry at a local church. I met a leader who recognized my eating disorder and encouraged me to find a healthy Christian community.
“I attended re:generation, Watermark’s biblical recovery ministry, after a friend suggested the ministry. There, I heard a story about a woman who struggled with an eating disorder as well, and I realized it was possible for me to find hope, healing, and freedom again. Walking through recovery, I discussed things I thought I would never share with anyone – past sins, failures, and where I found my identity. The women didn’t treat me any differently after I shared my past. They reminded me that God loved me, and His love became more obvious to me while walking through my struggles and sins with these women in genuine, deep conversations. My value, identity, and worth began to change as I spent more time in God’s Word. For so long, shame kept me from sharing about the abuse I experienced as a child. But in community, Christ freed me.
“Around that time, I met my husband through mutual friends. The ways he walked in purity and lived in biblical community were so encouraging. It helped me feel loved and secure in my own faith. We married a year-and-a-half later when my son, Alex, was seven.
“Through my marriage and having two kids with my husband, I’ve had opportunities to serve as a leader in re|engage, Watermark’s marriage ministry, and re:generation. While leading, I realized my struggles with perfectionism and shame were still present, they just looked different in my new stage of life. I was challenged to dig deeper so I could be a godly wife and mother. I learned to hold onto what God’s Word says about my identity. I had to stop and ask myself, ‘Am I valuing what others say about me over what God says?’ It is sweet to be reminded of the truth that I am ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’ (Psalm 139:14).
“I’m still learning how to share my feelings and thoughts, while being okay with failing. God is continuing to grow me and help me use my voice to glorify Him, rather than allowing shame or perfectionism stop me. Through leadership, marriage, and parenting, Jesus is continually pushing me out of my comfort zone to share my story of His grace.”
RE:GENERATION Mondays • 6:30–8:30 PM • Auditorium Find freedom from codependency, porn, addiction, eating disorders, anger, depression, abuse, same-sex struggles, and more. You will never be the same. watermark.org/regeneration