What Is Joy?

What is joy?

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A quick google search provides these descriptions of joy:

  • “a feeling of great pleasure and happiness”
  • Synonyms: delight, great pleasure, joyfulness, jubilation, triumph, exultation, rejoicing, happiness, gladness, glee, exhilaration, exuberance, elation, euphoria, bliss, ecstasy, rapture.

We can agree there’s a difference between “joy” and “happiness," but how are they different? We’re not going to necessarily talk about those differences in this post, but I will be writing about happiness in a couple weeks, so hopefully the differences will be communicated between the two posts. 

I’m a HUGE fan of practicing vulnerability through storytelling, so what better way to share about joy than to tell you a story from my own experiences?!

Experiencing Joy

My wedding day is to date one of the most joyful days of my life. Not only was I getting to marry my best friend, but so many of my favorite people were all together in one place. People from all facets and seasons of life traveled to one central location to celebrate this union. 

Don’t get me wrong, the whole process of dating, engagement, planning the big day, trying on dresses, and everything in between was great (most of the time), but absolutely nothing compared to the wedding day. I woke up that morning to friends jumping in my bed screaming “Happy Wedding Day!!!” I couldn’t help but smile ear-to-ear. 

The minutes leading up to the moment I would walk down the aisle to meet my groom were full of all kinds of emotions: excitement, anticipation, a tiny bit of nervousness (because what if I fall down in front of everyone), impatience, and pure bliss. 

The time finally came for dad to walk me down the aisle and pass me over to the care of Josh. I think we both smiled throughout the entire ceremony: the greeting time, the explanation of marriage, the communion, and the vows. 

When we finally got to the end of the ceremony we walked away hand-in-hand, full of joy and excitement, ecstatic about the celebration to follow. And celebrate we did! If you’ve known me longer than 30 minutes, my passion for hip hop and dance music has probably been a topic of discussion, so you can imagine the fun playlist I created for our dance party. 

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I remember the amount of exhilaration I had as friends and family gathered around the dance floor to bust out their best moves and shout “TURN DOWN FOR WHAT?!” 

As we came to the end of the celebration we were escorted out by a tunnel of golden sparklers. We waved good bye to our friends and family and prepared for the beginning of our honeymoon adventure. 

When the Unexpected Happens

The bliss, excitement, and “Oh my gosh I can’t believe we’re finally married” emotions quickly faded as we rolled into Sylvester, GA (which is in the middle of no-where), and our car made an awful noise. I think we both wanted to ignore it, because, well you know why, we had a destination to get to and this obnoxious noise was putting a damper on our plans. 

Due to our best efforts of ignoring the sound, the noise grew louder and more obnoxious. We pulled over, got out of the car, and looked for the problem. We had no idea what the problem was.

We were forced to call my parents. 

As they answered the phone, we quickly explained to them what was going on and my dad said those words I was dreading, “I think y’all should turn around and head back this way. Your mom and I will meet you in Moultrie.” 

As you can imagine, all the bliss and excitement left us in that moment. Now we were experiencing frustration, confusion, gratitude (for my parents’ willingness to come help us) and a little embarrassment (because we were about to see my parents on our wedding night). 

An hour and a half later, we found ourselves in a Zaxby’s parking lot with my parents. Dad and Josh working on the car, while my mom was being a strong shoulder to lean on in the midst of this crazy. After what seemed like forever, the problem was found, the car was put back together and Josh was prompted to start the car. As Josh turned the key, nothing happened. 

SILENCE. 

The car wouldn’t start.  I looked at my parents and Josh, threw up my arms and said, “Are you kidding me?!” My parents ran to the nearby Wal-Mart, bought a new battery and installed it. Once again, dad prompted Josh to start the car, and this time, the engine roared! (Insert “praise hands” here).  

We test drove the car around Zaxby’s a few times to be certain ALL the things were taken care of and it seemed like all was well. By this time, I think it was about 2:00 in the morning. 

Do to all the car chaos we had to cancel our reservation and find a hotel in Moultrie for the night. When I called to book a room they told me they were completely booked because of a golf tournament in the area. I think the lady on the other end of the phone could somehow hear the tears in my question that followed, “Well, can you help us out and tell us of another hotel in the area?” I proceeded to tell her of our night’s events. She mustered up some compassion and told me she would double check their availability and call me back.  After a few minutes, the phone rang, and somehow, by God’s grace, we got the last hotel room in the Hampton Inn that night. I was never so thankful for Hampton Inn. 

Clearly the car issues were NOT in our plans for night one of our honey moon. 

These uninvited interruptions were irritating, annoying, inconvenient, expensive and overall out of my control. 

But, to be honest, I never lost the joy of being a newlywed. And that’s the beauty of joy. 

Unchanging Joy

Joy doesn’t change depending on circumstances and our surroundings. Even when it seems like things are spiraling out of control, you can maintain joy. It doesn’t mean you’re going to be happy during the chaos, but you can experience joy. The Bible is full of references to “joy,” both in the Old and New Testaments. 

Everlasting joy that carries you through trials MUST take root in the Lord. Uninvited interruptions will occur in our lives. There’s no way we can avoid them, just like there was no way to avoid the car problems we experienced on our wedding night. But, we CAN choose how we will respond to these interruptions. We can choose to rest in the promises of our God, found in His word and maintain our joy in Him. We can trust that He’s in control and working for our good.