My mind was on an endless loop: baby—coffee—baby—coffee—baby.
I was six weeks postpartum, in a hurry to get back to my baby. I walked down the hall of the doctor’s office, flanked by doors leading to windowless exam rooms.
On my right I passed a bulletin board covered with thank-you cards and birth announcements. On my left, I passed the payment counter. I hurried straight out the door to my car parked outside. That was my first mistake.
Another six weeks passed, and I was holding a roly-poly three-month-old. Opening the mail, I found a bill from my doctor’s office. I wasn’t really sure what it was, but I paid it in full and moved on to the next stack of papers. That was my next mistake.
Another month passed and I was looking through the transactions on my debit card. I noticed two identical charges, one right after another. It was the payment to the doctor’s office. It appeared that they had charged me twice. I needed to investigate. I pulled out the bill to look at it. But the more I looked at it, the more confused I got.
Why had I paid several hundred dollars for a routine postpartum visit? I had good insurance with maternity coverage. By now, the check-up was a hazy memory, but I did remember hurrying out the door to get back to my baby boy. Did I stop at the payment counter and give them my new insurance card? No, I remembered, I did not. What was I thinking? Oh, right: coffee—baby—coffee.
Walking past the payment counter in my postpartum mental fog, I had set off a comedy of errors, and it would take me months to plumb their depths. First, my baby was born just after the new year, just when my insurance changed. I never gave them my new policy. Then I paid the large bill no questions asked. Then the doctor’s office ran my card twice for the same charge. In the middle of the whole mess, insurance rejected another big claim for routine services. In all, I had been charged over $700 that I shouldn’t have to pay.
It turned into a never-ending loop of calling the doctor’s office, calling the billing department, calling the insurance company, and waiting on hold. It was a nightmare. I was still in the middle of all this mess when I went back to the doctor’s office with a six-month-old baby in tow for another prenatal appointment: yup, I was happily pregnant again. But this also meant more charges with the same doctor’s office and insurance company.
I got more and more frustrated about the situation. I asked my sisters to pray that I could sort it all out. Each time the bills rose to the top of my paperwork pile and I forced myself to tackle it once more, I told myself I was learning an important lesson. I’ve always been a bit disorganized, distracted, irresponsible…I procrastinate on paperwork, I never really do understand insurance terms, I don’t keep a close eye on my bank statement and I certainly don’t keep my receipts. I’m just not a details person. Although the entire mess wasn’t my fault, my mistake set it all in motion. Every phone call was penance for being incompetent. Eventually, the doctor’s office paid us back for the double charge, but I wasn’t making any headway with the insurance company.
Finally, almost a year later, I had done everything I could do. I had prayed. I had done my penance. Hadn’t I learned my lesson? And still, God did not see fit to send the money back. I figured it was like in elementary school when you forget your lunch. Sometimes your parents don’t bring it to you, just to teach you to be more responsible. Should I try harder to fix it all? Or should I just let it go?
Then suddenly it hit me. Maybe I was reading the wrong moral in this story. Maybe God’s lesson plan was entirely different from mine. “God?” I said. “God, it’s a lot of money. But I know that you have us covered better than any insurance plan. I can see this money isn’t coming back, but I trust you with that. And I trust you with all my inadequacies as a mother and a wife and everything else.”
Later that week, we got a check in the mail from our insurance company, reimbursing us for the remaining amount. I was floored. Turns out, God wasn’t teaching me a lesson for being such a bungling idiot. He was teaching me to trust him.
Is that too obvious of a moral? Yes. But I guess that’s why I needed the object lesson.
It doesn’t always turn out the way it did for me. Sometimes God teaches us to trust Him without the money. But I get the feeling if I had learned the right lesson six months sooner, I would have gotten the check six months sooner.
As moms, we are confronted with our failures every single day. When I talk to myself, most of my conversations go something like this: “Oh honestly, Michal. Get your act together.” But when God speaks to me, He has a different message:
“The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.” —Psalm 28:7