It’s My Fault That…

“How can you trust him?” Chris asked, hesitating on my proposition. He had been burned one too many times in the past, which cooked a skeptical crust that shielded his gooey insides.

“He’s not that kind of a guy, dude. I promise.” I persuaded him to let me invite a homeless man live with us. After ten months, he relapsed and stole $3,000 of our stuff–mostly of Chris’s music gear. (You can read more about that story here.)

I was out of state for Warped Tour when I picked up the phone to a stranger telling me what happened. In that moment, I couldn’t have made my eyes blink even if I wanted to. My face flushed hot red. I walked away from my tent–jaw slacked in total disbelief.



After a few laps around a lot behind the venue, I surfaced from the shock. Immediately, I blamed myself. I felt like his actions were my responsibility. I told him from the beginning I was going to help him get a job, get a place, and get his own life back. I told Chris from the beginning he was trustworthy. And I didn’t do enough to fulfill what I has promised. This was my fault.

If I were to roll out the details for you, you’d probably think I was absurd. I invited a homeless man off the street, gave him my clothes, gave him open access to my fridge, gave him our entertainment room to sleep in, picked him up at three in the morning when he called lost and drunk, gave him money when he got robbed, prayed with him, drove him to his job, helped him get applications and fill them out, helped him get another job when his first one didn’t work out, took him to recovery meetings, picked him up when he was down, paid for him to come on a retreat with me, reminded him that he could never be too far gone for God even when he felt like he was unforgivable and unlovable. And I loved him. Close.

All of that being said, I still blamed myself when he decided to stick a needle in his arm, rob us, and try to kill himself. He had years of wrong decision, wrong turns, wrongs others did to him, and wrongs he did to others notched in his belt. He wasn’t homeless by happenstance, and he wasn’t addicted to heroine because he fell on a needle. He made choices to get where he was, and others influenced him as well.

In blaming myself, I took responsibility for everything that led up to that decision. The abuse from his father, neglect from his family, bullying from kids at his school. The alcohol and drug abuse, the violence, the laziness, the self-hate, the depression, the crime. It’s my fault that HE chose to relapse, that HE chose to take duffle bags full of our belongings, and that HE chose to buy the drugs to overdose.

And though I may seem crazy, some of you struggle with self-hate for things that weren’t your fault either. When they abused you–physically, verbally, mentally, sexually.

I didn’t go through the same thing, but I blamed myself too. I said, “Why didn’t I…” too many times to count. I replayed all the situations I thought I could have changed the outcome. “If I just hadn’t… If I just wasn’t…”

Forgiving myself wasn’t easy. It took other people looking in and helping me see what I couldn’t see myself. And it took me being willing to let go of the illusion that I’m expected to make perfect decisions in every situation.

The truth is, I did the best with what I had and knew at the time. I didn’t intentionally bring about his relapse or his theft or his attempted suicide. I had to learn to give myself grace for what I didn’t know. I had to let go of what I didn’t do and what someone else chose to do.

No matter what they might have told you, you didn’t try to make them do that to you. You didn’t ask for rape. For abuse. For pain. For tragedy. For years of suffering and self-hate and escape and coping after that. You didn’t.

I’m not pretending to know the layers of your story. But I am saying if you were abused, it wasn’t your fault. Period. Give yourself grace where you didn’t know, and let go of what you didn’t do yourself. That’s not your blame to take.

God doesn’t hold anything against you; you’re not stained. Rather, He smiles at you as He holds you; He’s already cleaned you. You’re fresh, new, loved, accepted. Though in regards to your abuse, you’re actually not forgiven because you don’t need to be. You’ve nothing to be forgiven for. You’re blameless. Let those lies melt away. Embrace the truth that it wasn’t your fault. Because it wasn’t! Because it wasn’t.

Reflect on these questions, and share with us in the comment section below: Are you willing to forgive yourself? What thoughts are keeping you from doing that?

If you have a story where you’ve forgiven yourself, please share with us because it might help someone else going through something similar.

Showing 10 comments
  • Jeremy Boxerman

    Nate, I just read the other article related to this and man, I’m blown away. You sir, are one insanely good dude. The fact that you let in a total stranger/homeless man live with you is an ideology that is unimaginable to most, in my opinion, and it shows how much of a great person you are. You loved and cared for him as if he was your family. It’s amazing how you went above and beyond like that for someone who you didn’t know live with you. I always try to help out others as well, but the thought of inviting a homeless man live with me is kind of a scary thought. I’m currently letting one of my high school friends sleep/eat/etc. in a spare room in my apartment because he’s in need of a place to live, but it’s not like I didn’t know him at first.

    And about those reflective questions, I tend to blame myself for nearly everything and quickly retort to saying “sorry” for things that weren’t anywhere near in my control (might be because I’m Canadian… sorry!). Often times, I’ll say sorry for whatever happened, feel bad about it for a little while, maybe for the rest of the day, but the day after I’ll usually feel better and most likely forget about it. I can generally forgive myself and others as well somewhat easily, but it depends on the situation, but I find that I kind of have a rough time forgiving others when it’s something major that happened. One who I have a hard time forgiving today is my father. It’s been more than 2 years now that I haven’t said a word, I think that I will eventually forgive him but I don’t feel like I’d be able to forgive him tomorrow.

    • Nate Hilpert

      I appreciate that man–thank you for reading and for the encouragement. If anything, that story should show you how crazy awesome God’s love is. He heard the prayers of that insignificant man and answered them through me. And in the process, He grew me in unimaginable ways. He’s the one who orchestrated that, and I think He’s the main character and cool dude of this story.

      And dude–letting someone stay at your place, eat, sleep, etc is a BIG DEAL. Thank you for loving him so well in a time of need.

      What makes you say “sorry” for things that weren’t in your control?

      What’s the story between you and your dad? Not talking to him for two years sounds pretty sucky 🙁

      • Jeremy Boxerman

        No doubt man. It’s only since I started reading HS posts that I’ve been considering looking into Christianity as I’ve never been introduced to it or anything. Jake has been helping me so much via e-mail and I can’t say it enough how thankful I am for that.

        I don’t know why I say sorry for things that aren’t in my control to be honest… It feels like it happens automatically. I’m pretty quick at putting the blame on myself.

        The story behind my dad and I is rather a long and shitty one but long story short, all my life he physically and verbally abused my mom quite a lot. I grew up with no father figure to look up to since he was hardly ever around. I’ve seen him hit my mom rather often throughout my childhood, and at the age of 10 my parents finally went their separate ways after being together for 15 years. 10 years later, my mom somehow thought he had changed and they went back together, and with me being in college with no stable place to live, I decided to go back to live with them. One night when I came home from school/work, I caught my dad holding my mom by the throat against the wall. I intervened, called the police, and when he realized I had called them, he kicked me out. That happened like a week or 2 after my 21st birthday. Luckily I had a friend who welcomed me to stay in his apartment for the time needed, and I stayed there for a month. It happened in Oct. 2011 and it’s been since then basically that I haven’t said a word to him. I don’t know if it’s something people can easily forgive, but I surely have a hard time forgiving him for that.

        • Nate Hilpert

          what makes you consider looking into Christianity? I just replied to your email 🙂

          what makes you put the blame on yourself? what’s your reasoning?

          wow…what amazing timing….to walk in at that point…such a blessing that you did….I can see why that would be something difficult for you to forgive–wow. How is your mom doing? Is she still with him? what happened with the police situation? how are you doing living on your own?

          • Jeremy Boxerman

            What made me consider looking into Christianity was Jake and HeartSupport. I’ve been a long-time fan of ABR, and about a year ago, I decided to finally go further than the music and look up interviews from the band members, which is rather a rare thing for me. I’ve checked out interviews from Jake, and then a few months earlier I found one where he mentions HS, so I checked it out. I’ve read a bunch of blogposts here, seen how people were talking about God and their experiences, and I wanted to feel the same way. What really hit me though was Jake’s testimony, and then I really wanted to give Christianity a chance. His story resembles mine in several ways and if he was able to overcome so many issues thanks to God and Christianity, than I figured it can surely benefit me to look into it as well.

            It’s not as bad nowadays, but what made me put the blame on myself was mostly because I felt worthless, and anything that happened that wasn’t necessarily good, I’d say to myself I could’ve/should’ve done something else. I know it’s dumb and pointless for me to do that, and I’m realizing that now. Whatever happens now that isn’t in my control, I won’t take it personally and won’t blame myself. I’m guessing it was just a mindset that I’ve grown up with, but ever since I’m out of college, I’ve been able to focus on bettering myself.

            Yeah, it definitely was an amazing timing. It could have been much worse, that’s for sure. My mom is definitely getting better herself. After that incident happened, I couch-surfed at my friend’s place for a month, but we spoke on the phone and figured it would be best for us to get an apartment together until we fix our situations, so I’m not living alone. She’s definitely not with him anymore and I HOPE it’s completely over. The police only intervened that day. They brought my dad to the police station while I get the few things I had, and an ambulance brought my mom over to the hospital to make sure she was alright. I had called a friend to help me out that night, and so he came to get me with a few of my things, slept at his place for the weekend, and then went on to couch-surf at another friend’s place for a month. All this while dealing with college (Pure and Applied Science) is pretty insane so that’s why I decided it was best to take a break.

          • Nate Hilpert

            that’s awesome man 🙂 so cool to hear how your journey has lead you here. Where are you headed next? What I mean by that is, what steps are you taking now to explore Christianity and give it a chance?

            when was the first time you remember blaming yourself? it sounds like you’ve been going through some really cool changes through this whole college experience.

            yeaaaaaaaah that totally makes sense….so where are you at in life now? are you living with your mom? you said ya’ll got an apartment together? when you look ahead on your path, what do you see or hope you will find?

          • Jeremy Boxerman

            Actually, Jake is pretty much guiding me through all this haha. I’ve been asking a bunch of questions for close to 2 months now and he’s been great at providing the insight. I’ve started praying almost every night (sometimes I forget, but I just have to get into the habit haha it’ll come though). Next up, I’ll be ordering a bible here pretty soon as well, looking forward to that. Ever since I’ve started praying, it feels like God is already starting to work his magic, or at least I’m noticing it more nowadays. Things are different around me, to say the least haha.

            I can’t remember the first time I’ve blamed myself for something, that would go waaay too far back. Don’t have that much of a good memory haha.

            Right now, I’ve been laid off work recently, so I’ve been taking it easy playing guitar, filming skateboarding, skateboarding when I can, and shooting photos. I’m most likely going to New York in 2-3 weeks or so for a few days to film with 2 buddies, really looking forward to that! I’ve touched a bit on that in that last e-mail I sent you, but yeah, I’m back to living with my mom until we’re fine. In terms of looking ahead, I can definitely picture a much brighter future, especially with certain connections I’ve made over the last year. A friend I met over the last year started his own skateboarding company. Things are going amazing for him, and so if all works well, he plans on making me the company filmer. We’ll see how that goes, but that would definitely be a dream becoming a reality. 🙂

          • Nate Hilpert

            First of all–I’m so sorry for the late reply, Jeremy!!

            Wow! That’s INCREDIBLE!!! How has all of that been coming? Have you gotten the HS Bible yet? I got my own just the other day too 🙂 What differences have you noticed?

            WOW! Sounds like an amazing opportunity!!! What’s the update with your friend’s skateboarding company? And how’d the film go?

          • Jeremy Boxerman

            Ha, no worries for the late reply man, it’s all good! I can’t believe it’s already been 2 months! haha

            To be honest, for a little while I’ve been slacking, almost since I bought/received my HS merch. I did get a bible, along with the hoodie, t-shirt and beanie, a full HS kit! The first night or so that I received the bible, I read a few pages before going to bed, and haven’t continued since. It’s as if I feel intimidated (weird huh?). It’s in my face every day, sitting on my desk, but I’ve yet to pick it up again… On my way back from filming in downtown Montreal today, I opened HS on my phone, first time in a few weeks, and read a few articles on the bus and it made me realize that I’ve been missing out (the last article I read was yours actually, “What’s the point of God?”). I forgot how uplifting this website can be, and I should remind myself to come back on a daily basis, as there’s so much I haven’t read! Coming back here will definitely restore some faith and provide me with the courage I’ve been lacking to keep reading! 🙂

            As for the trip, it was a blast! Filming is an on-going process for skateboarding, but we managed to film a quick 30-45 second ad for my friend’s company in 4 days. My other friend got 1 or 2 tricks in those 4 days but he’ll be using them for his sponsors. Don’t know if you’re familiar with skateboarding, but sometimes just one trick can take hours or multiple days before landing it, depending on so many factors. Overall, it was an amazing trip for sure though, thanks for asking haha! First time I was going to NYC/Philly strictly for skating and it was definitely a memorable one!

          • Nate Hilpert

            I’m so happy to hear that this site is encouraging you in that vein, man…I definitely resonate with your overwhelm at this point in my own personal life. Tell you what–lets both decide to pick it up tomorrow. I’m going to read a chapter in John. You don’t have to tell me you did or didn’t do it. It’ll just be our secret, silent agreement.

            dude that sounds amazing…good luck with the ad, the filming, and everything…I love your passion and your courageous pursuit of it. I’m rooting for you, Jeremy 🙂

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