I Can’t Breathe

Suzanne Burnett
3 min readJul 16, 2022


Our six-year-old son with the big grin was not smiling today. In fact, even with a nebulizing mask corralling medicine toward his nose and mouth, he was gasping and crying out while trying to breathe. Through no fault of his own, this little man’s asthmatic symptoms had snuck in and taken over. Now every muscle in his body was focused on getting air to his system while we waited for “the big gun” medicine to kick in.

These are helpless parenting moments.

But we found the necessary help, learned from our mistakes, and are doing better at managing the life challenge he has been given.

Do you ever have those times when lots of little things are happening? Perhaps individually none of them major stressors, but compiled together they just seem heavy and unmanageable, pressing until it feels hard to breathe.

“I’m not sure I can do this today.”

Thoughts and emotions whirling, early one morning I stood quietly with my head down trying to sort out all the “little pressing things”. Our two college age children in two different towns were preparing to relocate. The older child had some first-in-a-lifetime social things going on and was checking in and reporting frequently, sending my brain to her city and situation day and night.

The younger child had just acquired employment across the state and was preparing to set out on her own. Every time I walked by, she would toss out a question or five about gathering necessary items, find a place to live, locating boxes, etc.

Our next teenager was experiencing yet another health issue right before a week-long trip. This required calls to and from physicians as well as some unwanted discussions with the child.

Our sweet, happy-go-lucky 14-year-old son had a cousin companion for the week. This circumstance was kicking in “one boy, one brain; two boys, half brain” syndrome, altering his interactions with indignant younger siblings. Also, suddenly he seemed to know everything and mother, doggone it, knew nothing. Pretty much every phrase that fell from my lips was being challenged and questioned, pushing my patience to the edge.

All this mental gymnastics on top of the regular summer stuff of the younger seven children was just a little too much for me to wrap my brain and muscles around today.

In this early morning quiet moment, I began to fold a mountain of laundry and chose to redirect my toxic thoughts of inadequacy by listening to an October 2008 Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints General Conference address by Elder Henry B. Eyring. What I heard stopped me mid-fold.

“It is not surprising that we feel from time to time nearly overwhelmed. Your thought that ‘I’m not sure I can do this’ is evidence that you are [gaining] understanding…..The fact is that you can’t do it by yourself. The responsibility is too difficult and too important for your mortal powers and for mine. Recognizing that is at the foundation of great…service.

“When those feelings of inadequacy strike us, it is the time to remember the Savior. He assures us that we don’t do this work alone.” (bold and italics added)

Whatever is being stacked on you until you cannot breathe, whatever life calls upon you to shoulder until you stand quietly thinking or loudly sobbing, “I’m not sure I can do this today”, I testify with this Apostle of God that we do not do this work alone. When gasping for spiritual air, “the big gun” medicine is available to ease our symptoms.

Call upon our Father in Heaven in the name of His Son in faith and with the intent to act. “Through the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, our natures can be changed. Then our power to carry burdens can be increased more than enough to compensate for the increased service we will be asked to give.”

And breathing will become easier and natural again as we do His work with His help.



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.