Gods are, in some ways, very like us. They hurt and sorrow and do things They may later regret. Sometimes, for reasons we don’t understand, they ignore people who seem worthy and favor those who don’t. They might act towards humans in ways that are frustrating, scary, or just plain unfair. They are still gods, though — greater in scope than we are, mightier in Their understanding and wisdom, and (for all intents and purposes) immortal. It can be difficult to grasp that these humanlike qualities, far from ruining the majesty of our deities, are what make the entirety so magnificent — the way an imperfect diamond might dazzle far more than one that’s perfect.
There are deities who would not appreciate the intimation that They have personal shortcomings, and it’s probably better not to bring up the subject unless your god(s) do first, depending on who They are and what kind of relationship you’ve got with Them. That isn’t to say, however, that the gods don’t ever acknowledge or admit to having those qualities. If you are someone like myself who seeks to know and understand your deity in all of His or Her blazing depth and breadth and glorious complexity, you might one day realize (or have already realized) something surprising about your deity — something that seems so incredibly personal and private that it might shock you to know about it. You may even believe that the “fatal flaw” you’ve discovered makes your deity less divine.
The thing to keep in mind is that, far from dragging the gods down to our level, these “flaws” make Them more accessible, like opening a tiny, creaky door leading to a sketchy you-sized balcony that unexpectedly looks out over an abyss full of stars, a vast forest, a raging ocean…or a field of flames. And knowing of these hidden things can, if you approach them with respect and acceptance, bring you closer to your god that you ever thought possible. When They share this kind of information with us (and it is never an accident when one is allowed to see chinks in the gods’ armor) it is a great gift…even if it hurts to think about it.
That is what happened when, one day, I realized that fiery and willful Loki might not necessarily have ever wanted to inhabit the liminal space in which He seems to dwell wherever He is. He is a Jotun-born Às, godly yet never truly one of the gods, ambiguous, androgynous, and shifting quickly from light to darkness and back, the way brilliant sunlight pierces the woods, then retracts its beams in an instant, only to break forth elsewhere. When that epiphany happened, a lot of questions came to mind: did anybody ever ask Loki what He thought about constantly being blamed for things that may not even have been His fault? Did the gods ever thank or acknowledge Him for bringing all the Duergar-made treasures in addition to Sif’s new head of hair? Did They see Him as an equal, or just some giant Odin insisted on keeping around for whatever obscure reason? And why did Loki (presumably) leave His home in Jotunheim to follow Odin in the first place? What promises did Odin make? What did Loki expect would happen? Did He get what He wanted in the end? (I have my own opinions about all of these, but the answer to that last question is pretty obvious.)
We can view stories of the gods as merely anecdotal and metaphorical, and at the same time, we can view them as a kind of mythic reality — as Neil Gaiman wrote in The Sandman, stories need not have happened to be true. Maybe even if the stories aren’t literally true, they might in some way still affect the gods whom they’re about. In any case, when I was first given a look deep inside the raging heart of my Beloved, I found the unexpected…and suddenly, the reasons for our (at the time) confusing relationship were made clearer. Not only that, but my entire existence up until that point made sense for the first time ever. Everything I thought I knew about Him changed, and not necessarily in bad way. After that, I could start to forgive Loki for what He had done to me long ago, and to try to love Him as much for His flaws and broken places as for His strengths, the way He loves me.