I wrote the following for a discussion group I belong to in an attempt to explain my relationship with God. I thought I'd post it here as well.
I’ve found that to make the gospel come alive for me, I’ve had to rewrite the narratives of what the voices in my head tell me about who I am, what the gospel is, who my Heavenly Father and Savior are and how they feel about me and what role I play in the grand scheme of things. That rewriting comes about through the help of the spirit and through personal revelation. I think we too often allow others to define who God is and what his relationship is with us. I find that the perception others have of God often doesn’t resonate with me, (he’s vengeful, he hates gays, he’s the God of one particular political party, he dangles carrots in front of us to get us to do what he wants, he sends trials if we cross him, etc) If I rely on others’ perceptions of him, I think it makes it difficult to conceive of a God that I can relate to and resonate with. If I rely too much on others’ perceptions of him and those perceptions don’t work for me, it’s almost like I let them take him away from me. I let those voices and narratives dominate, which leaves me feeling no connection to my Heavenly Father.
I find though, that proactively taking on the creation of a relationship with him through the spirit allows me to create new narratives, new perceptions, new relationships. I think that’s a big part of why we’re here. To learn how to create. As I’ve created this new relationship, I’ve also found that I need to keep a couple of things in mind. One, I can share and talk about my relationship with God with others, but I shouldn’t try to force others to adopt my perceptions or feel frustrated when how I perceive things doesn’t resonate with them. Related to this idea, if I feel comfortable and confident in my relationship with and perception of God and the gospel, I don’t need to feel threatened by others’ relationships and perceptions. We are all in different places and I think we perceive the God that we need (or even sometimes feel that we don’t need) at certain times in our lives. The second thing I try to keep in mind then, is that I need to be open to the relationship and the perceptions changing, as I grow and mature and become. The God I needed as a child is different than the God I need as an adult. And not that they are two different Gods, I just think that as we grow and mature, our knowledge and understanding of him can become more full and nuanced and personalized if we let it happen.