“Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back, everything is different…” (Clive Staples Lewis)
Six months is a long time. Like, a really long time. And if you were to ask me what I was doing six months ago from today, I promise I would not be able to tell you, most days. Most days, I could not tell you what happened to me last week. Most days, I would not be able to let you know every person I got a text message from in the past two days. But today is not one of most days. Today, I remember exactly what happened six months ago.
Six months ago, I lost the most inspiring, encouraging, and loving person I will ever have the privilege to know.
Everyone has that pivotal point in their life, that day where everything changed in the world around them. For me, that was it. It was 7:30 on a Thursday morning. I was just about to leave the house after having a wonderful morning, but instead, I cried all the way to school. I cried all through my study hall that morning, all through my first class, all through lunch… And at that point, I just did not care anymore. I did not care who saw. I did not care what people were thinking. I did not care about any of it, because none of it even mattered.
You see, Brian Anderberg was the guy who knew absolutely everyone. He was the sexiest bald man I ever had the privilege of knowing. Ever. Throughout the time I knew him, he played the role of second-father, mentor, brother, basketball coach, team chaplain, youth pastor, campus pastor, regular Caribou customer, best-hug-giver-ever, and many more things to myself and a multitude of other people in the community. He had almost 1500 Facebook friends and was very active in the community. And not only did he know who people were, but Brian took the time to know each person by name. He got to know you personally. He knew your heart and loved your flaws. He judged you by your heart and not by your mistakes. He was kind to everyone, loving to the least of these on this earth. He took time out of his day for anyone and everyone who needed him. Brian loved on everyone around him, but most of all, Brian loved Jesus.
This is what I loved most about Brian Anderberg. I first met Brin as a youth pastor at a church in town. As an elementary kid who was not old enough to attend youth group, my friends and I would sneak into the youth room and hide out, just to listen to him and Phill speak. I can just picture the look on Brian’s face when he saw us there, a look that said “you know better than to be here” that did its’ best to smother the grin he so desperately wanted to share. But finally we became old enough to attend, and we were so excited. Brian spoke at a youth group one Wednesday night many years ago, and what he said hit home to me. He talked about His love and passion for Jesus, and for loving others. I wanted to be more like that, and after chatting with him for awhile, we both agreed that I needed to place some reminders in my life to keep me accountable in loving others. I created habits I still have to this day, just as a reminder to love those around me more and more each day, and Brian lived those things every second until the day he died.
Being honest–vulnerable even–that day I was broken, snapped, crushed, and shattered. I was left empty, needy, and lost. Brian was my main go-to with every problem I would ever face throughout my high school years. But of all of the things I felt in that initial moment, I knew deep down that I was not forgotten. The most important thing Brin ever taught me was that we are never completely alone. And that was his mission. Brian lived his life in such a way as to remind everyone around him that we are not alone in this life. He showed everyone the love of Christ, and because of his witness, many people changed their lifestyles to live a life according to the way God has planned for us. He taught people how to love. He showed us Christ’s love.
The past six months have been so difficult for me personally, as well as for any of the people he came into contact with on a regular basis. I have made many, many mistakes; mistakes I would not take back for anything, nor would redo if I had the chance. The past six months have been memorable, in good ways and bad. The past six months have been a learning and growing time for me. I have learned of God’s love for me, no matter my mistakes and failures. His forgiveness and grace have been outstandingly visible in my own life. Amid the emptiness, I have found fullness in Him. In the neediness, I have found His Provision is more than enough. Even when I feel lost, I have been found in Him. The past six months, not much has changed in my life day by day, but I am a very different person than I was then. In the past six months, I have been made new.
For those of you who know me personally, you know that I am a generally happy person. I am one of those people who is so happy all the time that people actually get annoyed by all of my joy. And on the flip side, many people are encouraged by the smile that is consistently on my face. But that smile would not be there if it were not for Brian Anderberg. He taught me to enjoy life as God plans, to embrace whatever is thrown in my path, and to love those who are around me each and every day. Because each and every moment, I can truly say, “Today is a good day.”
“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Psalm 73:26 ESV)