Today's article about God's love resonated with me. Growing up (and even until recently), I believed that God was a stern, austere judge who wanted to punish me. I am slowly coming to understand that this belief is a fallacy--that God is actually very loving, kind, generous, merciful, and inviting. It is taking time, though, for this new understanding to erase my former misunderstanding.
An excerpt from "God’s Attitude: Pointing in Accusation or Reaching in Invitation?" by Wallace Goddard:
A woman I know was investigating the Church and attended a Gospel Essentials class. The teacher instructed the class that, after our death, each of us will sit across a table from God, the great judge. The teacher said that God would be holding a book listing each of our faults and sins. And we would be accountable before a dissatisfied Lord for each and every sin we committed in mortality. He told the class that it was critical that they always follow the commandments and the counsel of Church leaders perfectly because otherwise they would be adding misdeeds to their judgment books. Those entries would remain there forever and God would someday punish us for every misdeed.
There was no mention of the Savior’s atonement, no discussion of the welcome process of repentance and sanctification. He did not even hint at a loving Father who, desiring us to return to Him, enabled a plan in which the Savior stands with us as our advocate (see D&C 45: 3-5).
Sometime we fear that God only loves us as long as we toe the line. We may harbor—and teach to others—a frightening image of a stern judge who casts us off when we mess up; we may imagine a God who no longer wants us home with Him....
These portrayals of God could make anyone cower. These depictions combined with the reality of our regular and persistent human failing could easily leave anyone feeling desolate and hopeless. (emphasis added)