Propel: Tell us about the need you’ve observed for your new book, Unashamed.
Christine: The truth is, I can see shame everywhere I look…Women of all walks of life have been affected. It hides in the shadows of the most successful, confident, and high achieving woman who struggles with balancing her life, as well as in the heart of the broken, abused, and downtrodden woman who has been told that she will never amount to anything. Shame hides in plain sight. It loves the darkness, demands secrecy, and hates the truth. Experience and observation have shown me that countless women of all ages, on every continent, have been schooled by shame…I know I was. I wrote this book because I want readers to know something: we can all be free.
Propel: What power does shame have in our lives? What are some of the lies that shame tells us?
Christine: From my own experience, I know that shame can be a prison. Shame can come from many different angles, and when we are exposed to a violation of God’s intentions, we feel fouled, violated, soiled to the core of our being either by something that was done to us, or something that we ourselves have done. Then shame wraps its deceitful tendrils around our hearts and whispers such lies as I am unlovely, unlovable, worthless, repelling, ugly, repulsive, horrid, loathsome, offensive . . . the list goes on and on. Those are lies, and this is the power of shame.
Propel: Can you briefly tell us about your childhood experiences with shame? What was the catalyst that made you decide to leave your shame behind?
Christine: I learned the lesson of shame well in kindergarten as I was isolated for my ethnicity, challenged on my desire to lead, and violated through years of sexual abuse. I spent the first twenty-two years of my life shackled by shame. Looking back, I realize I had always felt it. It had been a part of my life from my earliest memories.
Once I became a Christian, I began to discover the power of God’s Word to break through the lies I had believed—and to reveal the truth of who I am and why I was created. Notice that the key word in that sentence is began.
I have learned that breaking free from the shackles of shame is not an overnight experience or a quick-fix, ten-step process. It is, however, a grand, ongoing adventure of discovering the depths of God’s love and the huge scope of God’s power to transform us, re-create us, and continually renew us.
I am still discovering deeper aspects of those things, after all this time, and I know the process will not end until I meet Him face to face. I wouldn’t have it any other way. In fact, writing this book has been one more step on that journey for me, because shame loses its power when it is expressed.
Propel: In your book, you talk about “the bungee cord of shame.” Could you explain this to us?
Christine: I don’t like surprises—of any kind. I know it’s a residual symptom of the abuse I experienced as a child, but I have a hard time relaxing and enjoying something that surprises me, even when it’s a good one like a surprise birthday party.
And when it’s shame, I definitely don’t like it. Especially when it comes out of nowhere—like some crazy bridge-jumping bungee cord. Sometimes shame can be out of sight and out of mind for days, weeks, or even years—only to sneak up from behind, knocking us off our feet.
You know what I’m talking about. You can be walking in a healthy level of self-esteem (freedom), but then you’re passed up for a promotion, fail in a new endeavor, encounter someone who calls you out on social media, read a negative review, let someone down, or disappoint a loved one. Immediately, the bungee cord of shame comes flying back at you and your thoughts flood with, Not good enough, never will be; you just don’t have it; go ahead and give up.
I used to recoil at the reappearance of old shame, but over the past twenty-five years of my ongoing journey of becoming shame-free, I’ve experienced a “knowing” entwined with that pain—so much so that I have come to understand there’s a purpose when that bungee cord brings old shame flying back. I’ve learned to anticipate the healing God is about to do in me—if I let him.
Propel: What are some common “shame trigger situations,” and how can we learn to stay free from shame when we’re faced with them?
Christine: Ugh…shame triggers. Every time I come face to face with a new shame trigger situation I have to remind myself to consider and discover what God is up to.
Here are some of my own shame triggers:
Someone I trust unexpectedly rejects me.
I am misunderstood, overlooked, or criticized.
I don’t live up to someone’s expectations.
I’m struggling to complete a manuscript.
I talk and begin to feel like a failure.
Even when it hurts, when it’s painful, when I am afraid, when I cry, when I tremble in the face of conflict, when I see the worst in others or in myself – I have to remind myself to look for God in those situations. I know God is up to something, further conforming me to his image—to the image he originally created me to be before all this shame-filling ever started.
Because I’m willing to work through new shame triggers, new insights take hold. New strengths take root. Each step forward I take with God, I discover that his love is deeper than I knew, that his forgiveness is more complete than I’d dared to hope, that his grace is richer than I’d ever imagined.
Propel: What encouragement can you share with those who feel shackled by the shame in their lives?
Christine: If I can be set free from shame through the love of Jesus, than anyone can! I want everyone to experience his miraculous love. I want women to read this book and know that your influence is not so small that you can’t make a difference. God wants you to fulfill the purpose for which he created you. Jesus made you righteous; he placed his Spirit within you—and all his attributes. Yes, as you are transformed into the image of God, you become more like Christ, but really you become more of the “you” he made you to be.
So be her—and no one else. Influence your world with your freedom.
Propel: Through your work with A21, how have you seen shame affect women around the world?
Christine: Nowhere in my experience has the denigration of women been clearer as in our work through A21 to rescue sex-trafficked women. In one court case, the accused was asked by the judge, “Why do you traffic women?”
The man shrugged. “They are easier to traffic than drugs and guns,” he said. “The penalty is not as harsh, and you can kick them like an animal, and they will do what you want them to do.”
Women are denigrated as often in modern society as they were in ancient cultures. Two children are sold into the human sex trade every minute. Nearly two million children are forced into the worldwide sex trade every year. And 80 percent of all trafficking victims are women and girls. According to the United Nations, there are one hundred million women missing worldwide—and five thousand girls are murdered around the world every year by their parents for acting in ways that shame their family.
But through the work of A21, God has taken the shame I carried of abuse, adoption, and abandonment, and is redeeming it for trafficked victims from all over the world!
Propel: You recently founded an organization that is devoted to empowering women to lead. Can you tell me about that organization and the work you’re doing?
Christine: Propel Women is our newest initiative to help women identify their God-given purpose and potential. Through the initiative of Propel Women, God took the shame of all the leadership qualities the enemy tried to quench in me—starting in kindergarten—and is redeeming them to reach out to the many women struggling to manage life, leadership, and faith. If I were going to help women deal with their internal issues, then this woman that stares back at me in the mirror would have to deal with her own.
Through live events, inspiring articles, curriculum, book clubs and Propel chapters all around the world, we are working hard to come along side working women, stay at home moms, women in ministry, and every woman that is all of these and anything in between.
If any of this resonates with you, we have a gift for you! Sign up here and you will receive a free weekly teaching video Christine’s book, Unashamed, as a gift from us at Propel Women.
Christine Caine is an Australian-born, Greek-blooded activist, author and international speaker. She is cofounder of the anti-human trafficking organization, The A21 Campaign, the founder of Propel Women and the author of the new book Unashamed: Drop the Baggage, Pick Up Your Freedom, Fulfill Your Destiny. For more information visit www.christinecaine.com.
1. “Lives Together, Worlds Apart: Men and Women in a Time of Change,” in State of World Population 2000 (United Nations Population Fund, 2000). Retrieved October 9, 2015, from http://www.unfpa.org/sites/default/files/pub-pdf/swp2000_eng.pdf.
2. U.S. Department of State (2007). Trafficking in Persons Report June 2007. Retrieved from http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/82902.pdf.
3. United Nations Secretary-General’s Campaign (2013), “A Promise Is a Promise,” in Unite to End Violence Against Women. Retrieved October 9, 2015, from http://www.un.org/en/women/endviolence/pdf/apromiseisapromise.pdf.
4. UNFPA. (2000). “Lives Together, Worlds Apart: Men and Women in a Time of Change,” in State of World Population 2000. Retrieved October 9, 2015, from http://www.unfpa.org/sites/default/files/pub-pdf/swp2000_eng.pdf.