It’s taken her a lifetime, but world-travelling preacher, author and rescuer of trafficking victims, Christine Caine, is finally free from shame.
The prolific writer and speaker has written openly about her experience of childhood sexual abuse – and a raft of other challenging life events – in her latest book, Unashamed.
And she’s passionate about helping to free others from the burden of shame too—whether they’ve suffered abuse, or simply struggle with everyday mummy-guilt.
Christine heads the organisation A21, rescuing young women from sexual slavery and abuse, and helping them to build a new sense of their value and worth. But they’re not the only ones suffering shame; even those with a charmed life are prone to being ashamed of who they are, she said.
Shame Affects People From All Walks Of Life
“I’m helping girls in the A21 transition homes who have been brutally abused and raped and are so shame-filled, helping them find their identity in Christ and stand on their own two feet,” she told Hope 103.2, “[but] I’ve seen some of those same shame struggles in some of the most successful women, that battle with the shame of trying to balance life, thinking ‘I’m at the office too much’ and ‘I’m not the mother or wife I could be’—or girls that are in their mid 30s or 40s and are single and struggling with shame over that.
“I’ve found shame to be a dark, dark thing that impacts everyone from the highest social strata in life, to the most vulnerable and disenfranchised.So that’s why I made this book not about abuse, but about people at all levels of society who have struggled with different forms of shame.
“It can come from things we have done, and from things others have done to us.
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“You go all the way back to the Garden of Eden and the very first recorded conversation, right there between God and man, is God asking ‘where are you’ and Adam saying ‘I was naked and ashamed so I hid’.
“So much of our social media imagery shames people and tells them ‘you’re unworthy, you’re not good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, thin enough or rich enough’.”
“So much of our social media imagery shames people and tells them ‘you’re unworthy, you’re not good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, thin enough or rich enough’. And we go to bed at night thinking ‘I didn’t do enough, I wasn’t kind enough’.”
A Lifetime Overcoming The Shame Of Sexual Abuse
For Christine, shame grew out of numerous hardships: schoolyard bullying, the discovery at age 33 that she was an adopted child abandoned by her biological parents, and – most significantly – years of sexual abuse that she suffered as a child.
It’s a story that hasn’t been easy to share. The mum-of-two, who is now 50 years old, said it “took 50 years to write” Unashamed, because she has spent many years overcoming her shame and being confident in her own skin.
“I don’t think I ever felt I could write it before now, because it’s the biggest thing that I’ve had to struggle with throughout my whole life and my Christian life”
“I don’t think I ever felt I could write it before now, because it’s the biggest thing that I’ve had to struggle with throughout my whole life and my Christian life,” she said.
“There was this dark secret going on. When you first start being abused you think that what is happening to you is shameful and wrong, but when it happens repeatedly over a long period of time and no-one intervenes, you begin to think there’s something wrong with you.
“I think that’s where it got into me from a very young age, thinking, ‘what is wrong with me?’, ‘there must be something wrong with me’. I lived most of my life with that thought.
“I had to really get to a place where I felt I’d made good headway in living a shame-free life, to be able to put the stuff that I’ve learnt in writing. I went through such a personal journey the last two years where I discovered new areas God wanted to heal in me. I think I can share a testimony now because I have ongoing victory in this area.”
The Difference Between Conviction And Shame
There’s a great difference between having a healthy conscience, and shame, says Christine. One taps you on the shoulder when you’re doing something wrong, the other tells you that you are, inherently, wrong.
She said the most powerful tool to overcoming shame is knowing how much God values us.
“We need to get that place where we can rest in Christ and get our identity and value in Him and not in media or other people”
“I think we need to get that place where we can rest in Christ and get our identity and value in Him and not in media or other people. You’ve got to make what Jesus did for you bigger than what anybody has done to you, and what Jesus said about you greater than what anyone else said.
“I’m very confident that if we apply those principles on an ongoing daily basis we can walk in victory. My whole goal is to say that Jesus ‘put shame to shame’ on the cross. Isaiah 53 says he died for our shame.”
Keys To Healing And Restoration
For Christine Caine, healing and strength has come from spending time reading the Bible and allowing it to sink in, as well as being part of an encouraging supportive community of friends and a local church.
She said it’s on ongoing process to stay emotionally strong.
“I’m only ever one thought away from thinking how I used to think,” she said. “And on my not-so-great days I can spiral into a pit like anyone else. So I’ve got to do exactly what I’m telling anyone else to do. Stay in the word; get yourself around people that are going to believe in you and speak life to you.
“Although a lot of bad things happened to me, my life is a testimony that God can talk the bad things that happened to you and turn them around for his glory.
“My birth certificate doesn’t have a name on it. I’m an unwanted kid, second generation migrant, marginalised. I think I’m living proof that you can start bad and finish good. You can have a life beyond your past. Now he’s using me to help rescue others.