Ever have one of those mornings? You know what I’m talking about – a morning where nothing goes as planned and life is chaos. One of those mornings.

I woke up feeling a little unexcited about work, a little overwhelmed by some recent major life changes, worried about my daughter’s upcoming birthday and still in discomfort from an embarrassing and painful fall down my stairs, but I was feeling positive anyway. Until…

In the shower I dropped my bottle of body wash, which of course landed on my foot. Where else in the shower should it land? Somehow the flip-top lid cut my foot requiring the need of a bandage.

When it was time to wake up my daughters for school, I spied cat puke on the kitchen rug. Not on the easy-to-clean wood floor but on the large, fits-under-the-table rug. I decided to wake the girls then clean it up.

Sadly, my heavy sleeper must have had too much to drink before bedtime, resulting in sheets that I would need to wash.

I gathered supplies to clean the cat puke, but it was gone. Only a wet spot on the rug remained. The dog appeared with his guilty tail between his legs. He better not even think of licking me!

As I packed lunches, my oldest daughter made a discovery. Someone – dog or cat, both equally rotten at the moment – had pooped on the downstairs carpet. Again, not the easy-to-clean wood floor or tile or even a small rug that can be thrown in the washer but on wall-to-wall carpet.

Once the girls were off to school and the dog had been walked, I found a puddle of water from an undetermined leak in our home office. Did I mention we moved in less than two weeks prior? 

With a morning – or only an hour – like that, what the rest of my day be like?

In moments like these I have a choice on my perspective and how I react. I can laugh or cry or get mad or allow these moments to bring defeat. I can let these moments define the rest of my day, my week or even my life. Sometimes I don’t choose wisely. I grumble, complain and take out my stress on my loved ones.

One summer while fishing in my grandparents’ pond, we accidentally caught a snapping turtle, which tried to attack everyone. My uncle and brother had to kill it, but it wasn’t an easy kill. Snapping turtles have a tough shell and are vulnerable in few places.

When we choose to let the tough moments get to us, they crawl under our skin. As protection against them, we build a hard barrier around our heart, like a snapping turtle’s shell. When faced with one more thing, we act like a snapping turtle, attacking anyone who dares come near. This forces others to defend against us. Our loved ones know our vulnerable places and sometimes they lash back right where it hurts the most.

I don’t want to be like a snapping turtle. I don’t want to attack others. I don’t want my vulnerable places to be hit because that’s the only way to stop me.

I want to be able to take life in stride. I want to be able to laugh at those mornings and those moments. I need to remember that it’s not what happens to me that matters, but how I handle it.

How do you react to those days? How do you wish you reacted?

What do you need to tell yourself the next time you have one of those days?