Chasing After Garbage

Suzanne Burnett
3 min readDec 22, 2020


Have you ever been tempted to give up what you want most for what seems right at the moment?

As a young mother, one such event happened to me that has become a bit of a parable to look back upon and ponder.

While my husband was completing graduate school, my three young daughters and I had time to kill. In an attempt to leave the confines of our small apartment as often as possible, we purchased a used jogger stroller and we walked and walked and walked and walked. We walked to the library. We walked to the grocery store. We walked to visit friends. We walked to every park within four miles of our living facility. We walked in all weather.

Eventually, a small habit formed on these walks. I would pick up accessible litter on our walking paths and place it in the basket by the wheels of the stroller to be disposed of later. Such a little thing helped me feel that our walks were more purposeful.

One day while striding down a small slope of sidewalk, I noticed a piece of trash that was just off the path and a little out of my reach. I paused. Maybe if I moved over to the edge of the path I could reach it. No, that didn’t work. Maybe if I angled the jogger and stretched with one hand.… No, that didn’t work either. Maybe if I let go of the jogger for just a second, I could acquire the desired piece of rubbish and continue on our way. Foolishly, I chose the last option.

My strong hold on the vehicle that held my most precious possessions was released JUST FOR A SECOND while I stepped off the sidewalk to pick up that piece of garbage. It was a good cause. I was being a responsible citizen and helping the community.

To this day, I do not recall what item of trash stimulated such an irrational choice, but I will never forget the horror I felt as I looked up from my two steps off the path, desired garbage in hand, and watched gravity pulling my jogger full of babies down a dip in the sidewalk and into a busy street.

Garbage forgotten, adrenaline pounding, I sprinted after the stroller and caught the handle just before my children were in the line of traffic.

Blood pulsing through my veins, I stood there as cars whizzed by, wondering what had just happened.

I had given up what was most important to chase after that which was of no worth. Even though it was justifiable and only for a few moments, disastrous results were barely avoided.

As I am sure you have noticed, parenting can be tough. There are days of blissful exultation and days of painful mistakes, days of pure joy when children make great choices on their own and days nearing despair as you wonder why you’re even trying.

As Elder John C. Pingree Jr. taught, “Satan..seeks to distract us with less important matters…In addition, Satan discourages us with feelings of inadequacy. He makes our work appear too difficult or intimidating. However, we can trust God! He loves us. He wants us to succeed. He ‘doth go before [us]; he will be with [us], he will not fail [us]’.” (Deuteronomy 31:8) 1

He will be with us! He will not fail us! This includes those moments of poor decision or distraction where we may figuratively (or literally!) chase after garbage instead of staying the course that will bring long-lasting joy.

Elder Pingree also taught that we can rely on God. “He even sent His Son, Jesus Christ, so that we can depend on Him for strength beyond our natural abilities (see Philippians 4:13; Alma 26:12).” 1

I believe that with all of my heart!



Suzanne Burnett

Mother of twelve children and member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints shares spiritual insights learned through parenting and marriage.