For example, if a person is a habitual liar, they will see those around them as liars and distrust everything, finding it difficult to recognize truth even when presented with it. If a person is generous, examples of selfishness are easily explained away or enter that person's sphere only with a strong shock.
I believe this is why many people find things in the Church, and with God in a more general sense, so difficult to comprehend. They find themselves leaving the Church, or abandoning God because neither fit their own world view.
If a person is convinced that killing is wrong under any circumstance, for example, they will have a hard time with the passage in the Book of Mormon where Nephi kills Laban. If a person believes strongly in tolerance at all costs, they will find it difficult to reconcile the guideline of tolerating a person without tolerating their behavior.
This realization has led me to a great deal of self-reflection as I ponder over the question of how I perceive the nature of God. How much of my perception of Him is colored by my perception of myself? How much am I creating God (or His church) in my own image?
The first step to unraveling this is to do one of the most difficult tasks imaginable: to honestly categorize how I see myself. So, stream of consciousness came up with this:
I see myself as a relatively patient person with a very impatient streak against which I must guard myself at all times, particularly when I'm tired. I am a perfectionist in myself, and see myself as an ever-failing being. I don't believe that my best efforts will ever amount to much. I am painfully self-obsessed, always criticizing my own actions. I struggle against awkwardness, and long for a place to feel at home. I love living things, animals and plants, and am renewed when I can take care of people and living things. I am woefully inadequate at showing love and affection, and at doing what I need to to care for people. I am very sensitive and emotionally tender, but with a hard outer shell of protection and rigid spine which I must consciously soften at times. I will obey the law to the best of my abilities, even when it means personal discomfort, but I have to always keep an eye open against being judgmental. I like order and cleanliness, but have resigned myself to a certain level of chaos to preserve peace of mind. I feel ignorant, but feel that the blessings of God have begun to lead me down a path of wisdom at times.I think that is more than enough to start with.
So, how do I see God as a result of my self-perception?
- God is loving and caring.
I believe that God derives his power from caring for His children. When He tells us that it is His "work" and "glory" to bring about our eternal life and immortality, I think He means it quite literally. That is why, of all the titles He can claim, His favorite is "Father".
- God is a God of order.
I believe that God is powerful because He knows the laws of existence. He is omnipotent because He works with the nature of things as they really are. It seems ironic that power is gained through compliance and submission, but I feel this is consistent with the Gospel as demonstrated by our Savior, and is consistent with what I have observed in my own life.
- God is tender and compassionate.
I believe that somehow, God mourns for us—with us. Although, with Enoch, I do not understand how an infinite God could have the personality necessary to weep, I feel that He does. He is capable of mourning with us without saving us from the lessons we must learn.
- I feel that God is omniscient, omnipotent, all-wise.
Despite much popular philosophy to the contrary, I believe in the seeming dichotomy of a all-powerful, all-knowing God. I believe this is possible because he is also all-wise. He has recognized that sorrow and pain are necessary to achieve true joy. Therefore, He will suffer us to endure pain despite being able to stop it, so that we might achieve as much intelligence as we are willing to accept. I believe that the process of our choices here creates the future He understands and knows. I believe that it is possible for us to be what He is in every meaningful sense of the word. I believe it because He has promised it. I think that interpreting John 5:19 to say that the Father must have been a Savior as Christ is takes the Lord's words completely out of context and misses the greater point. I know that God has promised that we will be heirs as Christ is an heir, and what that exactly means does not matter to me right now. I suspect I understand far more of it than I remember while on this earth, and am willing to leave that for later without speculating on it, or wresting scripture to match my logic. I have more than enough to manage as is without borrowing trouble from the other side of the veil. I believe that God will always be my Father, however, just as my father on earth will always be my father, no matter that I become a self-sufficient adult, just as he is, with children of my own.
I hope that is the case, for my greatest desire is to be like Him and with Him.