Was Heavenly Father Really Who I Thought He Was?
November 2023

Was Heavenly Father Really Who I Thought He Was?

I was struggling with my feelings about Heavenly Father and needed clarity about Him.

woman with her hands over her heart

Have you ever gone through a phase where you just kind of question what you always believed to be true? I definitely have. Usually it gets resolved when I am diligent about praying and searching the scriptures for answers or when I feel an especially strong presence of the Holy Ghost.

But for the past little while, a certain thought has been kind of breaking my heart. I’ve had experiences lately that have made me wonder if Heavenly Father isn’t really who I thought He was—a kind and loving father. I’ve started wondering if He is more exacting, demanding, or harsh than I imagined. If He really does care about some people more than others.

Listening for Answers

These thoughts were weighing heavily on my mind in the months before general conference, but I didn’t really think about them again until conference started.

And, as they always seem to, answers came as I listened to our prophet, apostles, and other Church leaders. I started focusing on the words they used to describe God, listening for truths that the Holy Ghost would confirm in my heart.

I heard about “a God with infinite love, mercy, power, knowledge, and glory.”1

Heavenly Father was described as “our compassionate and merciful God,” whose “bounty is infinite” and who “will run to us, His heart overflowing with love and compassion.”2

I listened to speakers talk about how “[the] sealing power is a perfect manifestation of the justice, mercy, and love of God”3 and how “we have a loving Heavenly Father who will see that we receive every blessing and every advantage that our own desires and choices allow.”4

I was intrigued to hear about how “the God we worship is not bound by time. He sees … who we really are. So He’s patient with us.”5

I also loved the sweet reminder that “although we are imperfect at remembering Him, our loving Heavenly Father never fails to remember us.”6

And I couldn’t help but notice that so many speakers talked about God’s love for us:

“God loves you so much that He sent His Son to heal, rescue, and redeem you,” “Know your Father in Heaven. He is perfect and loving,” “God’s plan of happiness is all about you. You are His precious child and of great worth. He knows and loves you.7

“It is clear we have a Father in Heaven who knows and loves us personally and understands our suffering perfectly.”8

Seeing Him Differently

But the message that touched me the most came from Elder Robert M. Daines of the Seventy. He said: “You may struggle to see God as a loving Father. You may look heavenward and see not the face of love and mercy but a thicket of rules through which you must wend your way. Perhaps you believe God rules in His heavens, speaks through His prophets, and loves your sister, but you secretly wonder whether He loves you. ...

“Paul says God is ‘the Father of [all] mercies, and the God of all comfort’ [2 Corinthians 1:3].

“If you see Him differently, please keep trying.”9

In that moment, I felt the Spirit settle into my heart, telling me that Heavenly Father really is who I believe He is.

And the words from conference are helping me rebuild my feelings about Him and who He truly is. I know deep down in my heart that He is our loving Father in Heaven—because I have felt His Son’s presence, love, mercy, and healing power in my life as I have tried my best to keep my covenants with Him.

As Elder Daines said, quoting Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “Jesus came to show ‘us who and what God our Eternal Father is like, how completely devoted He is to His children’ in every age and nation.”10

I’m grateful for the reminders and witnesses that God is who I believe He is: our loving, kind, and merciful Father.