I suppose that the conclusion I have come to (and many saints and spiritual writers have also come to) believe that the essential purpose of the journey of life is to know God more and more each day. I think that as a young person I was headed in that direction, but life got in the way and I started to doubt the God I knew.
I really don't remember the teaching that God is love being very much part of my early formation. That mainly consisted of memorizing prayers and commandments and hearing about how everything was sin. Everything that was fun or pleasurable or happy. Church and things church were serious and there were so many ways to sin without intending to. And yes, I learned that sin was choosing to act against God, but I also learned that if I didn't know about some sin that it was my fault for not knowing, so therefore, sin. There were tricks and double crosses.
And from the Protestants who were part of my close extended family I learned that God rewarded the good and those He was pleased with. (There were a good many Calvinists in that group.) So when Life gave me lemons, punishment. I spent a good bit of time ducking lemons.
When I was about twelve I experienced bullying on the bus too and from school. It wasn't so much that I was the aim of the bullying, but a girl with mental challenges was tormented and I found that I couldn't abandon her even if I wanted to. (And I often wanted to. I even walked home the several miles or intentionally missed the bus so that my dad would have to drop me off to get relief from the torment.) Most of the time I was very aware that the only thing a Christian could do was sit with this girl and fend off the bullying as much as possible.
But, one night I at my prayers I turned to God and asked for a new way to pray. If God knew everything, then He knew that the "Hail, Mary" and the "Our Father" weren't giving me a closer relationship with God. I begged God for a new way to pray. And He gave me a new way. I began to see things on a deeper, spiritual plain.