Amanda woke up with a start and realized they were late. She woke up her kids and hurried to get them ready for school. Yelling and griping the entire time, filled with frustration due to her own lateness. As she raced through traffic and stoplights, she felt increasingly upset that nothing was going right that morning. She rushed her kids out of the car and into the school and raced to the office as her whole day was now behind because of missing the alarm clock.

She arrives at work and in her impatience, rear ends a car in the parking lot as she’s trying to park her car. More frustrated that the day continues to fall apart, she gives her insurance information to her coworker who was kind and understanding of her lateness and obvious distress.

She walked into her office and sits at her desk and places her forehead on the cold desktop and breaths. She has no hope for this day now. She feels as if it is pointless to bother and wishes she could just go home and cover her head with a blanket and pretend as if the day did not start with her alarm clock going not going off.

She hears sobbing in the cubicle next to her and looks up from her desk wondering what is wrong with Megan. Momentarily distracted from her own bad day she walks around to see what is going on.

Megan tells her that her sister just called and her nephew was walking to school and was hit by a car. He didn’t make it. She was trying to compose herself so she could leave and safely get to her sister.

Amanda’s heart stops. She thinks about her morning with her own kids. How she has been given the time and ability to drive them safely to school every day by her side. She thinks about how, over missing her alarm, she had yelled and griped and been angry with them for the entire morning. She thought about how ungrateful she was that, instead of a giant car accident on the freeway, it was just a tiny fender bender in the parking lot.

She thought about how if she could do it over this morning when her alarm clock did not go off and everyone woke up late that she would slow down and be grateful for those moments. Instead of rushing and being frustrated, she would’ve really spent the time helping them get ready and being kind and pouring love and understanding into them as they got ready for their day.

How often do we get caught up in the moment and not really think about how valuable that moment is? On any given day were given the opportunity to respond to thousands of different stimulus that can make or break our day. How are you responding? Are you giving your emotional control over to little things that don’t matter?

As I drove my kids to school this morning, and I was filled with gratitude for the time I have them in the car. That I am there to help them in the morning as they get ready and make their lunches. I thought about the people who woke up today and didn’t get to make their child’s lunch, and didn’t get to drive their child to school, whether that reason is because they have to work, or if that reason is that child is no longer living. The feeling is the same, and those of us who have the opportunity to spend those moments with our kids  or with our spouse, have a responsibility to be joyful even when it’s hard.

Life can end so quickly and it is already so very short. I challenge you not to waste your time angry that your alarm didn’t wake you, that you were made late for a meeting for work or school. I challenge you to find gratitude in the moments that are the hardest because that’s when our response matters most.

It doesn’t matter if you have a great day and everything goes right and you respond joyfully. It matters when your alarm clock doesn’t go off, when you hit every red light when you’re already late, when you get a flat tire and you feel like that just ruined your day. Those are the moments when your response matters. It matters because how you respond affects everyone that you come in contact with on that day. I prefer not to leave a wake of bodies that have been damaged by me in a bad attitude that I had complete control over. My response to a situation is my responsibility. It is a choice, and not always an easy one. Choosing to evaluate your response before you become frustrated or inconvenienced by one of those moments that didn’t turn out the way you planned.

Today, as you read this, I hope, that if a moment comes your way that is negative, or unpleasant, that you will choose to respond with patience and with joy. Why? Because you are alive, your heart is still beating, and you have the opportunity to change your day and maybe someone else’s by responding with grace.

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