“More obedience is always the answer
and will make it all clear, right?”
Brother Brill is known to everyone in the Boca Raton West ward as faithful and easy-going. “Oh, yah, nothing gets Dave down,” reported Jeremy Knowlton, his High Priest group leader. He continued that “Dave is just one of those stalwart saints, you know, doing whatever is asked without complaints or worries.”
What Brother Knowlton and others in the ward do not know, and what David Brill would scarcely admit to himself, is that recent events in his life and in the church have led to difficult questions. David’s elderly parents have drifting into an old age that has brought financial distress, sickness, and despair. Brother Brill often wonders why God would ask these humble, faithful people that he loves so much to pass through such pain.
Brother Brill’s suffering parents are not his only questions and fears. Years of committed church service always helped him feel safe and secure in the sense of place and purpose that the gospel gives him. But as he sees so many good people doing great service in other churches, the idea that he is in the “only true and living church” seems at least questionable. Brother Brill’s gnawing questions include wondering how God would only be leading Mormons and how everyone else could be in error.
Difficult questions like these as well as others have caused Brother Brill to feel adrift and sometimes even out of place at church. These questions, which he views as doubts that reveal a lack of faith, have also caused an unacknowledged sense of inadequacy, unworthiness, and even shame. These feelings have only been compounded by what he understands as God’s exacting standards of perfection and flawlessness.
Lacking the skills, perspective, network of trusted, wise friends, and assistance he needs to acknowledge, understand, and address his concerns, and finding no place to do so at church, Brother Brill has unconsciously decided to increase his scripture study by an extra 15 minutes, to pray for more missionary opportunities, and to attended the temple one additional time each month. Little does Brother Brill know that this additional obedience will not make his questions and fears go away. When his extra righteousness does not alleviate his doubts and fears, Brother Brill will in fact experience even more doubts, fear, and shame. Time will only tell if this will cause Brother Brill to fall deeper into despair, to find relief in some form of unquestioning fanaticism, or whether he will seek the skills and help he will need to learn to honestly, faithfully, and bravely examine and make peace with his feelings and concerns.