The longer I live, the more I meditate, the more I think that my past spirituality got so much of "it" wrong. I lived by the merit system, toiling my way toward paradise, fearing hell all the way. I felt heaven was hard to attain, and God hard to please.
And then life happened. My merit system did not bring me the peace and security that I sought. The neat answers did not answer. And I sought more. I came upon authors like Hans Urs von Balthasar, who challenged my concept and my understanding of spirituality. I learned that a challenged spirituality helps one find good, solid ground. Accepting that challenge, I also came to a different way of thinking.
Example: Von Balthasar writes that when Jesus came and died for us, it changed everything. In his words, God is not only with us, as in the Old Testament's "Emmanuel," but is ultimately "for us,"...now God is so completely on our side that any (juridical) indictment against us loses all its force. No one can accuse us before God's judgment seat, because the Son God sacrifice is such an irrefutable advocate that silences any human charge...
That doesn't sound like a God who is hard to please.
So when I think of all the fear I've had in the past of not pleasing God, I have to wonder. I wonder if we as humans don't promote the concept of the merit system because it gives us some sense of control. I wonder if we do so because we want to be able to differentiate between those who qualify, and those who don't. We like to have a "club" where all the members abide by the rules or else are banned.
But as I am learning, God does not operate like that. God does not keep a check list, counting our deeds and putting them on one side or the other. When God watches over us, it is to defend us, forgive us, and transform us. We are the ones who put up barriers, live by fear, let our faulty understanding halt God’s love.
So I need to put fear aside. For God is not hard to please. Humans are. And God is not human, God is Divine.