In an instant—everything changed.
It was a normal morning. My alarm clock woke me up at 6am and I hopped in the shower to get ready for another day at work. This was a new job that I took working for a medical billing company because the previous job I had was grant-funded and we weren’t promised another year. I hadn’t been there long enough to feel comfortable in my routine. And I was still new enough that I woke up with excitement to learn more. Little did I know, just a few hours later I would be sent home, and told never to return again. I had no idea what I was headed into. Even more shockingly, just how much their decision to fire me would change the whole trajectory of my life…
I’ve never shared this story with anyone but my husband. To be honest, it’s embarrassing, and left me feeling like a complete failure. I was so confused, too. I never understood what the reason was behind their decision to fire me. And I still don’t, even 8 years later. But that doesn’t take the sting away.
I was 7 months pregnant when this company hired me as a medical billing associate. My job was to answer the phones, and bill insurance companies for medical equipment that hospitals used on patients. (Things like crutches and braces.) They wanted to hire someone that they could train. Which was great for me because I never worked in medical billing before. I dove in head-first. I tried to memorize the codes and since I can type 75+ words per minute, it was pretty easy for me to sit down with a stack of papers and knock out data input.
After about 3 weeks of working with this company, I remember sending an email to my mom about how amazing things were going and how excited I was about working there. I was just called up to a meeting with the manager to let me know how they thought my performance was and to discuss long term employment, along with a pay raise. I was moving out of the “trial” stage and they thought I was a good fit for their company. Cloud-nine doesn’t even begin to describe how I felt!
Days later – literally, days – I was asked about my maternity leave plans. After all, my due date was coming up on us quickly and I needed to put something in place before my little girl arrived. So, I shot an email to the owner of the company letting her know that my doctor was planning a c-section (my girl was a large baby, over 10lbs!) and I would need some time to heal and bond with her before coming back to work. I asked if it would be possible (unpaid) for me to take 6 weeks off from work so I could heal from the surgery. I had NO idea that would be the last email I ever sent as an employee of theirs.
Fast forward to the “normal day” I opened this blog post with. My alarm went off at 6am and I rolled my very large belly out of bed and hopped in the shower. Just days before having been told that I would be getting a pay raise, and I was a “good fit for the company”. I was super excited to get to work, learn more about how medical billing worked, and push myself to meet my data input goals. My son got on the bus that morning at 6:30am, and my husband and I jumped in our cars and headed to work. When I got there I sat down at my computer, clocked in, and started my day.
The manager approached me while I was on the phone with a customer and told me (very loudly) to put them on hold. Our office area wasn’t closed in with doors. We all worked in cubicles that were connected to each other and could essentially hear everything. Music – you could hear it. Conversations – you could hear it. Phone calls with customers – you could hear it.
When she told me that I needed to pack my things and get out, I stood there with my mouth hanging open. I had no idea what just happened and my first instinct was to crawl into a hole. The world felt like it had stopped turning. I can’t recall every word that was said to me that day, but I do very clearly remember that I wasn’t even allowed to finish the conversation I had with the customer waiting on hold. I was told that I couldn’t even finish the work day and my paycheck would be mailed to me.
That was it. No explanation. I couldn’t ask questions. I was mortified and crying – and it all happened in front of every single employee there.
My biggest fear was that my husband was going to be angry with me. I was afraid of disappointing him too. We had just celebrated the raise I was promised, and this curveball was thrown so fast at me that I was left with my head spinning. When I got to my car I immediately called him and told him what happened. Lunch time hadn’t even arrived yet and I was already on my way home for the day. We were about to have a baby and suddenly we were thrust into life with one income. What in the world do you do when you’re faced with something so immediate and so scary?
I will never forget the comfort he provided me that day. He told me that I wasn’t worthless. He told me we would be okay. He told me that no matter what happened, he loved me. And after the initial shock wore off we talked about what we would do from that point on.
What I didn’t realize was, this manager’s decision to fire me that day was God’s way of opening up the opportunity for me to…
1) stay at home full time to raise and care for our kids,
2) allowed the brickwork to be laid for us to become a homeschooling family, and
3) have the free time I desperately needed to push my photography business full time.
I’m sharing this horribly embarrassing story because I desperately want you to know that sometimes things can happen to you – things that are completely outside of your control – that will leave you feeling absolutely worthless. But even though you may feel that way, it does NOT mean you are that way.
Listen to me right now.
You are NOT defined by the things that happen to you! And you are NOT defined by the things people may say of you. You are NOT worthless. You are NOT untalented. You are NOT useless, or ugly, or undeserving – or any other horrible lie you’re currently telling yourself.
It is so easy for us to fall into a habit of listening to those who hurt us the most. (And yes, I’m reminding myself of this today and every day from this point on.) It is time we stop that horrible voice in our heads that continue telling us these lies.
It. is. time.