How Can You Feel Hatred?

Sitting dog surrounded by flowers by a lake at sunset.

How can you feel hatred
without being angry?

How can you be angry
without placing blame?

How can you place blame
without passing judgment?

How can you pass judgment
without being deceived?

How can you be deceived
without yielding to pride?

On the other hand . . .

How can you offer love
without also being patient?

How can you offer patience
without showing kindness?

How can you show kindness
without feeling empathy?

How can you feel empathy
without having compassion?

How can you have compassion
without being gracious?

How can you be gracious
without being humble?

How can you humble
with yielding your will
to God?

Michael James Fitzgerald

I Don’t Care

Man and woman holding hands next to water at sunset. Photo credit:

I don’t care about your weaknesses.
I have plenty of my own.
Let’s work on them together.

I don’t care about your sharp words.
They are open wounds that need
the gentle balm of sunlight.

I don’t care about your sins.
You know all of mine.
Why remember what heaven
promises to forget?

I only care about the
piercingly authentic,
perfectly imperfect,
tenderly affirming,
unadorned You.

Michael James Fitzgerald

Reclaiming Our Innocence wife and I recently went to dinner with our youngest grandson, along with his mom, our daughter, and his older brother. Our youngest grandson is two.

During dinner, he was smiling at me and trying to get my attention. He was excited to tell me something. I turned my attention to him. Then he told me with a huge smile on his face that he had played with Playdough with his grandma (not my wife but his other grandma). His mom chuckled because that little event had take place four weeks earlier!

What my little grandson told me touched me deeply. Imagine being so excited to tell someone about something as simple as playing Playdough—and it happened a month earlier.

Young children in their innocence. Simple needs, simple joys. Untarnished, pure, and appreciative. Full of wonder, with hearts of gold. No ego on their radar. Of such is the kingdom of God (see Mark 10:14–15). As we read in the Doctrine and Covenants:

Every spirit of man was innocent in the beginning; and God having redeemed man from the fall, men became again, in their infant state, innocent before God. (D&C 93:38.)

Again, in verse 15 of Mark 10:

Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.

Innocence is hard to come by when we are stranded in Egoville, the walled town where most of us adults live. In the town is a hill with a machine gun nest on top, a machine gun of defensive words that we use to position ourselves as the winner of every argument, the victim of every wrong, and the one who is always right. It is hard to be innocent when we are blaming, complaining, and ungrateful—the triumvirate of the ego-bound. It is hard to be innocent when we are stuck. And it is hard to be truly happy without some degree of innocence in our lives.

We can reclaim our innocence through faith in our Savior Jesus Christ, through repentance, and accepting forgiveness, through a broken heart and a contrite spirit. Where else can we find the path back to innocence, back to our childhood?

Wherefore, redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth. Behold, he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered. (2 Nephi 2:6–7.)

I believe our innocence stems from our original infancy, before God formed our spirits (see D&C 93:29–30,36). I believe that this essence—our purest essence—is our true inner child. I believe we must go back to our origins to move forward in the eternities, leaving our false, unoriginal selves behind,

For the natural man [or the ego] is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father. (Mosiah 3:19.)



Important Questions for Engaged Couples

Last week, President Munk sent a list of 18 questions to the bishops in the stake, questions to ask newly engaged couples, or those who are about to be engaged. A few of them really jumped off the page at me. Even if you have been married for years, why not ask yourself and your spouse a few of these questions, as if you were courting again?

Spoiler alert! Brace yourself. These questions are not easy to ask or answer, but they get at the core of what is really important in a relationship. If you want a vital, healthy relationship, you’ve got to give your fears a rain check. Emotional pain is a gift that reminds us of where we need to place our attention, where we have conflicts (mostly inner conflicts) that we need to resolve.

Ready? Buckle your seat belt. Here goes.

How would you rate your fiancé’s testimony. Is it strong? Is it independent? Does it stand alone or does it depend upon you? Does he or she pay a full tithing, attend all meetings, fulfill callings, and obey church leaders?

Have you talked extensively about spending and money priorities? Are you on the same page on this? Do both intend to pay a full tithe? How will you calculate the tithe and how will you determine your fast offering?

Have you talked about what kind of a church family you want to be, that is, what you will do on the Sabbath? What will you do when the bishop extends a calling to you? What will your church attendance be like? How will you magnify your callings? Are you going to try to live every commandment? If not, which ones will take a back seat? Are you on the same page on all this?

Are you both happy and confident in the man’s career choice? What is it? Are you confident that this career choice will be adequate to keep the mother in the home? Are you both committed to having Mom in the home?

Have you discussed roles that each of you will play in the home and are you on the same page? Are the dishes women’s work? Is car maintenance the man’s responsibility?

Are you each making this choice to marry completely of your own free will? If between now and the marriage date you feel as though it is not right, do you feel completely free to delay until you do feel right? Is this the case even if the announcements are out? Are there any other forces at work here other than your sincere love for this person and desire to be married to him or her?

Have each of you told the other everything about your past, that, if found out later, might lead to disappointment or distrust? Many women never knew that their husbands had a pornography issue in his past until it reoccurred after marriage. I encourage every woman to ask the man point blank if he has ever looked at pornography and explore that question carefully. He owes her a complete explanation.

Do you really love each other?

Questions that make us break out in a sweat are probably good for us. There is no intent here to embarrass or ridicule. The point is to get to the truth, because, ultimately, there is only one truth in God’s universe, and that truth is love. Yes, there are many expressions of that truth, but they all lead to love. Without it, what do we have? Why else would there be an atonement? marriage? children? church? heaven? It’s all about love, and that love is light and the “truth is light” (D&C 84:45).

Remember, as the apostle John said, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear” (1 John 4:18). There is a truth more important than the apparent stability of your relationship. Pursue the truth—love—fearlessly. May God bless us all to find it.