When Destiny Defeats Shame

If you recognize me, or my name, you likely fall into one of two camps: you’ve either heard me speak or preach at a Christian event, perhaps you’ve read one of my books, or you may be acquainted with A21. I also recently founded an organization designed to empower women to lead—Propel Women—so hopefully some of you may be acquainted with me through that avenue, too.

If you had told me as an adolescent, even as a child, that I would be doing these things now—preaching, speaking, leading, rescuing, writing—I wouldn’t have believed you in a million years. Because while the gifts needed to do these things were present even then, at such a young age, I was ashamed of them.

Shame was my companion from my earliest memories. At school, I was mocked and teased because of my Greek heritage. At home, I didn’t seem to fit into my culture or my gender the way I should. Instead of being interested in cooking and playing with dolls, I was interested in sports and books. My teachers discouraged my natural leadership abilities, and my mother told me not to be smarter than the boys.

I don’t recall a time in my life when I didn’t feel that there was something wrong with who I was, something deficient in me. My sources of shame, however, went far beyond the ethnic prejudices of my schoolmates, the misdirected messages of my teacher, and the cultural pressures and expectations of my Greek family. What my mom and dad, teachers, and classmates didn’t know was that I carried a shameful secret.

From my earliest memories, I was the victim of sexual abuse. Far too young to comprehend what was happening, I only knew that what was being done to me felt ugly and wrong, and it left me feeling that I was ugly and wrong. All the while, my parents did not know it was happening. 

These secret acts took place behind closed doors, and I had no words to describe them even if I had felt safe enough to try. But shame took hold from the very beginning, so I wouldn’t have dared utter a word.

When you are abused, at first you are ashamed of what is happening to you. Over time, though, you begin to think it is because of you that it is happening. The abuse continued for years—throughout my entire childhood. It was hidden; it had always been hidden; and I believed it needed to stay hidden.

After all, I thought, there must be something very wrong with me. I must be at fault. I must be a bad person. I am not worth protecting. God must not love me. I guess I’m not worth his attention.

By the time I hit my university years, I was so shackled by shame that I had completely lost my way. I had descended from being the victim of shameful acts perpetrated by others to being adrift in a shameless lifestyle of my own choosing. My wounded heart had become hardened.

To protect my heart from ever being hurt again, I emotionally isolated myself. I pushed God onto the back burner of my life, choosing destructive relationships I hoped would fill the void. I hid from him and myself. But God didn’t give up on me. He kept turning my thoughts back to him time and time again.

I wish I could say that as soon as I decided to follow God and dedicate my life to serving him through helping others that the shame in my life disappeared. But unfortunately, that’s not how shame works. I expected that once I’d left my old life and joined God’s team, I would feel free and could simply forget the past and move on. But I didn’t.

I was forgiven and had access to all of the promises of God in Christ Jesus, but I still carried a broken heart, a wounded soul, and a tormented mind—because shame destroys our internal settings.

Walking with God to work through and fight against the shame in my life has been my single most difficult journey. But doing the hard work of healing is the only way we can get to the other side—the freedom to fulfill our destiny.

How amazing is it that God is using the sources of shame in my life—my passion, leadership skills, even my abuse experience—to spread his love and rescue others from the darkness of shame and slavery? This abundant, meaningful life is what God has for you if you choose to do the hard work of healing.

We all struggle with shame, but shame does not have to define our futures. God can set you free, so that you can go and free others. 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.

So be you—and no one else. 

If 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

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.


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