A quick conversation about joy
by James Phillips
May 31, 2011 | 765 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
James Phillips
James Phillips
According to the dictionary on my computer, the meaning of joy is “a feeling of great pleasure and happiness.”

For some reason, I just don’t think that definition does the word justice.

Joy and happiness are almost always thought of as synonyms, but when broken down, they are two very different words.

Happiness is a feeling that is for the most part based on conditions or circumstances. If things go well, people are typically happy. If things don’t go well, happiness is a hard emotion to muster.

Joy is something completely different. Happiness is an emotion or a feeling, but joy isn’t. Happiness happens because of our situation, but we can have joy in spite of our situation. Joy is something that is implanted deep inside all of us. One Greek word for joy is chairo, which the ancient Greeks described as the “culmination of being” or the “good mood of the soul.”

Joy combats fear or anxiousness. With joy, fear becomes powerless. Joy brings peace in the middle of storms. When happiness fades away, joy will remain.

By this point, you’re probably thinking, why does this guy care so much about the difference in joy and happiness. What’s the meaning behind all this rambling?

If you’ve read this column for any length of time, you’ve no doubt read of our family’s adventures, and you’ve probably read about some of our sad times as well. Andrea and I have three children: Stone (8), Breeze (6) and Daisy (3). We are now expecting our fourth, and with our other three names, you can’t name them something like Tom or Sally.

For some time, Andrea has felt like Joy was the perfect name if we were to have another girl. At first, I wasn’t very keen on the idea. I thought it was too common for us. She really felt like that was the name God has given her for this baby.

A little more than two weeks ago, we found out our little one was going to be a girl. That was when I really started thinking about Joy as a name. With what we’ve been through (three miscarriages in two years), there’s probably not a better name.

Joy has been what has gotten our family through some tough times. Joy has been the one thing that has calmed my fears during this pregnancy. Joy is the perfect name.

After we had decided on Joy as the name, Andrea announced it to our church family during an open mic time a couple of Sundays ago. She shared a little of our story and about our fears. Her little announcement led the band that was playing that Sunday morning to dedicate a song to us at the end of the service. Deep South Dread, a reggae band from Tuscaloosa, was providing our worship music that Sunday, and as their final song, they played Jah Roots’ “Joy” for us.

After church, I told Andrea that if I wasn’t sold on the name before then, that did it. What are the chances that a reggae band would be at our church and play a song called “Joy”? The band members even told us they were just learning the song and hadn’t planned on singing it until they heard Andrea’s story.

The next morning on my drive to work, I passed Zion Rest Primitive Baptist Church, which is located near our office, and its sign read, “If God has given you joy, share it with someone.”

I’m excited to say that God has given me joy and has blessed our family with Joy and she should be here sometime in early October. I couldn’t wait to share that with all of you.

James Phillips is managing editor of the Daily Mountain Eagle. He can be reached at 205-221-2840 or james.phillips@mountaineagle.com.