I’m No Different Than Anyone Else

Editor’s Note: Today’s story is from our President Darrell Vesterfelt. He lives in West Palm Beach, Florida with his wife Ally where he manages Prodigal Magazine and is a Team Pastor at Shoreline Church.

It had been a long couple of months.

I’d met the woman I wanted to marry and spent every last dollar I had flying her across the country. I’d finished one ministry and was getting ready to start another. I’d packed everything I owned in my Toyota Corolla and driven with my soon-to-be-wife from Minneapolis, to my new home in West Palm Beach, Florida.

I’d loaded my things into a friend’s garage, flown back across the country to Portland, Oregon, to meet her family. I had planned to have a certain nerve-wracking conversation with her dad.

I’d decided to propose, but had no money.

I’d freelanced, spoken at a church, scraped together every last dollar I could, and bought a ring I knew she would love. She said yes. We had planned (with lots of help) a very fast wedding.

We’d packed all of her things to move her across the country.

Now we were three weeks away from the wedding day and, here I was, by myself, trying to find a place for us to live in Florida. This was the last obstacle to overcome and I didn’t have much energy left to overcome it.

I need this to be easy, God. I prayed. I need you to help me.

Thankfully, it took no time at all to find the perfect place. A great deal for the area. I signed the lease, got my keys and thanked God as I walked inside.

Thank you God, I whispered under my breath. And then said, I pray she likes it.

The apartment was perfect for us, for now. It wasn’t the nicest place we had ever lived, or the nicest neighborhood, and the staff at the front desk weren’t the most respectful, or the most prompt to respond to our requests, but it was ours.

I had to return to the front office on three separate occasions to get a fifty dollar gift card that they had promised two weeks prior. The third time I returned I told the woman what I had been told, and asked if they had it ready for me.

No, she said matter-of-factly. We don’t.

I felt heat rise up behind my face.

“I need that money from you ASAP” I told her, but I could tell from the way she kept staring at the paperwork on her desk that she wasn’t taking me very seriously. She barely even lifted her eyes to look at me.

“Sir, you’re going to have to come back on Friday,” she said.

“Look,” I told her. “I can’t come back on Friday. I’m only in town for two more days. Then I’m flying to Oregon to get married. There isn’t another option.

I need that gift card to be ready today!”

I turned to walk away, proud of myself for putting my foot down. But as I turned I heard her voice, turning frustrated, come again behind me. “Good luck with that,” she told me. “There’s no way it will be ready before Friday.”

I whipped back around.

“Shut up,” I said, teeth clenched, “just shut up,” I told her.

With that, I stormed out the office door.

I walked back to my car, climbed in, and put my head down on the steering wheel, where the tears started to flow.

I don’t cry much, but this was an exception. I was at the end of my rope. I couldn’t believe I had just been so rude to the woman at my apartment complex.

And over what?? Fifty dollars??

Here I was, a “pastor” and I couldn’t even keep my cool when things didn’t go my way. I was supposed to be a witness — a living example that things could be different, life could be different, when lived with Jesus.

And instead of showing her that, I reacted just like any other overly tired, worn-out, exhausted human would have acted when things didn’t go their way.

That’s when it occurred to me. I’m no different than anyone else.

Being a Christian does not make me different than any other person around me. It doesn’t give me more patience, or resilience, or make me a nicer person or a harder worker, necessarily.

It doesn’t give me an automatic selfless heart that only ever cares about others.

All that it does Is gives me Jesus.

And when I live my life in relationship with him, when I rely on his spirit good things come out. Love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness and self-control.

But that doesn’t mean that life is all of a sudden easy.

The minute I take my eyes off of him, the minute I rely on myself, I find out that I’m just as messed up as the next guy. Just as likely to yell and curse and make a bad decision. Just as likely to protect myself at the expense of someone else.

And if what separates me from the rest of the world isn’t me, I need to start living my life for something different.

Have you ever said or done something that you regretted later? What did God teach you about yourself?

  • Louise

    Oh wow. Thankyou for your honesty. I love how God can take our weakest moments and transform us through them.

    • Darrell Vesterfelt

      Its in our weakest moments that his Grace is made known.

  • http://savannahlaurenphoto.showitsite.com Savannah Lauren Shealy

    Thanks for this encouraging article! It’s also really cool to see one of my photos up!

    • Darrell Vesterfelt

      You are welcome, and it is awesome! We are honored that you submitted it.

  • Melanie

    Wow, thanks for sharing. This is actually a struggle of mine. I have a strong idea of how things “should be” and sometimes, when I feel there is an injustice against someone or myself, instead of acting according to the scripture on it I raise my voice and say my own mind on things. Truth is, though, my peace should be coming from God and not whatever just shook me. If Jesus didn’t scream at people on the way to the cross I don’t think we have much the right to, even if something has been done wrong. God cares more about the eternal, I think, than our perception in the time. But, it’s so easy just to get lost when all we can see is that small piece of the puzzle that seems to be smacking us in the face.

    Most recently I’ve had a struggle to simply respect my dad. He’s someone I’ve felt injured by time and time again. I should be over this since I’m 30 but life has landed me at home helping him for a few months again and I still get treated the same. I know if he is to see Jesus in me, however, I can’t react the way most people would. I have to be ‘different.’ It’s hard to let go and let God when you feel broken down but I guess that’s why Jesus never promised us it would be easy, he simply said we wouldn’t be alone. In this, for me, God has simply brought an awareness of my need for HIM to fill in the places I lack, because apart from Christ I have no reason to be different. But, WhEN I focus on this knowledge of God and the promise of things eternal in Christ it makes reacting “different” a lot easier because the world no longer revolves around me or my felt injury, it begins to revolve the heart of Christ and those who still don’t know Him. God is so much bigger than our hurt and the world has so much need to see HIM in the middle of their own hurt.

    • Darrell Vesterfelt

      You are so right — God is bigger than our hurt.

      Praying for you in the midst of your difficult situation.

  • Brittany Cornett

    That’s good.

    In my moments of hurt I tend to completely shut down- this has lead to a fear if speaking the good news; for as you said “I am no different than anyone else.”

    Here I am about to make one of the biggest decisions of my life and I am terrified of telling my neighbor about how Jesus can help to fix his marriage. I can show him sure but the speaking it weakens me.

    “I am no different” and that is why the Lord has called me and you and us to step out- because He loves to taken broken people and call them to something greater than we as humans could ever do on our own strength.

    • Darrell Vesterfelt

      Thats good Brittany –

      It takes the pressure of off us a little bit when we have that realization.

  • Cyndi

    Bill Bright (former president of Campus Crusade, now with the Lord) used to say, often, “The Christian life isn’t difficult to live, it’s impossible…apart from the empowering of the Holy Spirit within us.”

    I have regretted what I have said and how I have reacted 1000′s of times. And yet, God graciously and patiently waits for me to come to Him with agreeing confession and then, lovingly restores fellowship when I ask. As I have matured in my 50+ years of walking with God (I know, this is a magazine for 20 somethings…sorry :) ) I have found that the Spirit really does enable me to keep my mouth closed when necessary to keep from tearing down and opens it when helpful for building up. If God can do that for this opinionated and verbally expressive individual, He can do it for anyone!

    By the way, I still cave to emotional demands at times. But it is never one too many for the Lord to refuse to receive me into His arms again. It is what makes this Christian life so completely worth it.

    • Darrell Vesterfelt

      There is a lot of wisdom in that Cyndi. Thanks for the encoureagement.

      PS — this magazine is just as much for 50+ individuals as it is for 20 somethings :)

  • http://www.spiritualglasses.posterous.com Jennifer Upton

    When we as believers act this way I think there is a great opportunity to show Christ. Yes, we may be like everyone else in that moment of weakness, but then we have such a divine opportunity to humbly return to that person seeking forgiveness. This is where we can put faith into action. It isn’t easy, but can be such a testimony to Jesus.

    • Darrell Vesterfelt

      I agree with you Jennifer. Humility is a Christ-like attribute.

  • Tawanna MacFarlane

    Thank you so much for being so honest. Sometimes I try to explain what makes me so different with all my falliable moments and now I know I am not any different as a person. I am thankful for the Saving Grace of Jesus and His strength to see me through my weak moments.

    • Darrell Vesterfelt

      Without that grace we would be helpless sinners.

  • http://shewritesandrights.blogspot.com bethany

    I often struggle to keep my emotions and words under control in situations like this myself. I think the more we admit these weaknesses to ourselves the better we will be about controlling our reactions in future circumstances. I know for me, admitting that this is my biggest struggle has helped me to bite my lip on more than one occasion. Thank you for honestly and humbly sharing your personal struggles, Darrell.

    • Darrell Vesterfelt

      Bethany — I am learning that it is almost impossible for me to control these things on my own, because there will be a day that I am tired and I will slip up.

      I am teaching myself to lean on the Lord in these moments. I need to surrender control and lose the pride.

  • http://www.menreloaded.com Doug

    Had this just the other day. Pulled in front of a lady at the McD’s drivethrough. She was off to the side, not paying attention. I couldn’t be sure she was even in line. So I zipped ahead. Well, she pulled up beside me, cussing and honking and edging back in. And rather than just easing back and letting her in I gave her my scary bald guy, impatient wave of the hand while mouthing less than Christian admonitions to get her poop in a group. I was definitely not pleased with myself. And my conclusion. I’m like anyone else. I have snapping points. And I have Jesus. Thanks for completing my sentence.

    • Darrell Vesterfelt

      I am glad that I am not alone — or crazy.

  • http://weareabeginning.wordpress.com Tor

    I relate but a little differently. I was raised to believe that niceness was the tenth fruit of the Holy Spirit and that whenever conflict arose I needed to apologize excessively and walk away. However, I know I think (and mutter!) things that are not at all godly or reflective of the grace I’ve been shown by Christ. So even if no one else sees it, God knows my heart and that I’m no better than anyone else even if I don’t tend to lash out in a visible way.

    • Darrell Vesterfelt

      Men see actions, but the Lord sees our hearts. You are very right about that.

  • http://breadandglitterjournal.com/ Ryan

    Unfortunately, all the time.

    • Darrell Vesterfelt

      I feel you.

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  • Dale

    I can relate to this on many levels. Last semester I had a group assignment working on. To be honest the girl I was working with wasn’t the friendliest or easiest to work with. She told me to “shut up!” and that is when all Hell broke loose. Mark you we were in a small computer lab and I began shouting on top of my lungs so EVERYONE could hear. At the end I was extremely embarrassed and felt pretty much the same way as you. Asking God to help me to control my anger and help me not make that same mistake again!