Jun 21

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Who is deserving?

Today I had lunch with Peggy Nolan, a woman who I can already tell is going to be an incredibly dynamic presence in my life. We connected because both her husband and her son-in-law are deployed National Guardsmen.Β  She runs workshops for stepmothers and a whole host of other really cool stuff. (If you’re interested, she’s @toolboxgirl on Twitter.)

After discussing business for a while, the conversation naturally turned to love (doesn’t it always between two girls?)

It got me thinking about past relationships while I was driving home.

My most recent relationship (let’s call him Keith) was a mixed bag – he was very loving to me, but our life philosophies were so different that it’s breathtaking. He looked for the darkness in people (quite literally). I looked for the light. For that reason alone, it’s a wonder we lasted two years together.

Can I rant for a minute? This has been building in me all day and it’s really bothersome.

For many years I’ve made a practice of paying tolls for the car behind me. It’s not a big thing – with today’s gas prices, it’s barely a third of a gallon of gas. But it makes me feel good; hopefully it brings a smile to the recipient; and it brings a lot of pleasure to the toll-takers (they almost always thank me and say how wonderful it is.)

Keith had a major issue with all of this. He would say to me, “How do you know that the person you’re paying for deserves it?”

That question always stumped me – why would you assume that a stranger doesn’t deserve it? Who can be a judge to whether another person is deserving or not? And why would I curtail my own enjoyment in order to possibly avoid giving a gift to someone who might not appreciate it? Should their lack of appreciation affect my joy in giving? Not in the least. In fact, it’s my favorite kind of giving – the kind where there is no expectation (or possibility) of reciprocation.

More than once I’ve had cars chase me down the highway to wave and smile and mouth “thank you.” Just as often, I have no contact with the recipient at all.

So who isn’t deserving? Is it the business man who won’t notice the extra dollar, but will have a smile in the middle of a long day of meetings? Is it the mother who is scrounging for change while her baby screams in the backseat, and can have a moment of adult connection with the toll taker? Is it the kid who has turned to alcohol or drugs because he believes that no one in his world sees him or cares?

Are you willing to tell any of these people that they don’t matter enough for a small human kindness? Are you willing to tell them that someone else is more deserving of a moment of compassion, of a smile, of human connection?

I’m not willing to do that. Call me a “bleeding heart liberal” if you must. If I can bring one joyful moment to another person in their day, that’s worth a whole lot more than a dollar to me. And it’s selfish too – it brings a moment of joy into my world to do it.

Each time I pay a toll for someone, I love to imagine the phone conversation they’re going to have tonight with their husband or wife. “Guess what happened to me today?”

Who doesn’t deserve to have that conversation?

And I deserve to be with someone who enjoys and celebrates that part of me. We all do.

About the author

Leah Carey

Leah Carey is the Chief Miracle Officer of The Miracle Journal, where she writes about the large and small miracles that happen in her life every day. She is a life coach, speaker, journalist, freelance writer, and lover of life. In all of those pursuits, she works with people to identify what’s already right in your life so you can build an even more joyful and fulfilling daily experience from that foundation. You can find her on Facebook, , Twitter, and YouTube.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.leahcarey.com/themiraclejournal/2011/06/21/who-is-deserving/


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  1. Peggy Nolan

    Leah – it was so awesome to meet you today! And yes, you absolutely deserve to be with someone who shares the same giving spirit as you do!

  2. Leah Carey

    Thanks Peggy! πŸ™‚

  3. Joy

    I am so glad to have read this today! I had been in a relationship with someone who look for dark while I radiate light..I share effortlessly and generously and he can’t understand why…So, as I release this connection, here you are affirming to me how right this decision is. I ditto Peggy’s comment: You absolutely deserve to be with someone who has your spirit (we all do!)..and I’m glad to have “met” you today:)

  4. Leah Carey

    Welcome Joy! I like saying that. Maybe that should be a new mantra around my home – “Welcome Joy!” πŸ™‚

    Congratulations on your decision to honor yourself and release the darkness!

    For me that relationship was a huge stepping stone toward really claiming who I am. I had to fight so hard with him to maintain my own light identity that in many ways I stopped being who I was in order to accommodate who he was (and he probably never knew that was going on inside me). When I got out of the relationship I knew I never wanted it to be that hard again.

    The last year has brought me this realization (which I was sharing with Peggy yesterday): in the past, I’ve dated in order to not be alone. Those relationships somehow always made me feel more lonely. Now I’m ready to find a relationship in which I can be a full and complete version of myself – light, enthusiasm, spirituality – all of it. I am grateful to “Keith” for highlighting that part in me that needed to be healed – the part that was willing to settle for so much less than I desired and deserved.

    All this reminds me of a post I wrote a couple of weeks ago that you might enjoy: http://www.themiraclejournal.com/2011/06/06/being-my-own-soulmate/

    It’s a real pleasure to meet you. YES, we DO DESERVE to be with someone who loves and appreciates our spirit and light!

    Sending you a hug,

  5. Peggy Nolan

    Leah – I know you’ll just love Joy! She and I have been friends in our blog world for nearly three years now!

    One of the things I did in my first marriage was dim my light so my ex could shine or towards the end, he tried to extinguish my light.

    Marianne Williamson reminds us all that dimming our light so others can shine does no one any good. Certainly not us.

    My light shines brightly from the inside out. I will never dim my light for another.

  6. Leah Carey

    Interesting that you bring up the Marianne Williamson quote – someone just posted that in the comments section the other day on this post: http://www.themiraclejournal.com/2011/06/09/appropriate-use-of-power/

    It’s one of my favorite. πŸ™‚

  7. Lisa LaPlante

    I LOVE the idea of paying someone else’s toll! I also fully enjoy giving in those moments when there is no expectation and often no way to reciprocate. I love sending love and generosity out into the universe knowing it is goodness from a pure place, and surely knowing that it will produce happiness even in the teeniest but measureable amount. I love the surprise gift – it opens opportunities as you so perfectly illustrated – for people to lift up their heads and just receive… and maybe remind themselves that they are worth receiving a gift no matter how big or how small.

    In my heart I know we all come from a common “place” because of the belief I hold in human soul and spirit. For me – this kind of gifting, is a way to remind myself as well that I am deserving of the joy of giving, and receiving the joy from doing so, and in the common experience of humanness… the joy of deserving what toll gift or other gift might be waiting for me just down the road. =)

    I love you!

  8. km

    Oddly looking up Whitey Bulger in Google got me here to your website. That is a miracle in of itself:)
    I adore your toll paying . I do a feel good thing. I clip coupons for everything and use them as i shop. If someone is buying something I have a coupon for I go over and give it to them. I love giving out diaper coupons because I remember what a difference it makes !! It’s my feel good thing and it is appreciated.

  9. Leah Carey

    Hi KM! What an amazing way to get here! πŸ™‚
    I absolutely LOVE the coupon clipping idea – I’ve never heard that before! I just posted it on Facebook.
    I’m so glad that you’re here, KM, and that you made a point to say hello. Today you are one of my miracles! πŸ™‚

  10. William

    Beautiful Leah! What joy I felt leap in my heart seeing your recognition that you deserve a man who celebrates your expressions of kindness. Now as I understand it you have made a commitment to accept any invitation for a date. Well do I ever have a date invitation for you … πŸ˜‰

  11. Leah Carey

    Thank you William. I’m intrigued. πŸ™‚

  12. xian

    You are a true daughter of Earth and of Humanity. Simple, yet extraordinary.

    1. Leah Carey

      Thank you Xian. How lovely. πŸ™‚

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    I don’t know why I can’t join it. Is there anybody having similar RSS problems?
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