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Garbage men dance to the delight of many: The impact of choosing joy

Ryan Denison is the Senior Fellow for Theology at Denison Forum, where he contributes writing and research to many of the ministry’s productions.

He is in the final stages of earning his PhD in church history at BH Carroll Theological Institute after having earned his MDiv at Truett Seminary. Ryan has also taught at BH Carroll and Dallas Baptist University.

He and his wife, Candice, live in East Texas and have two children.

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A garbage man dressed in an orange jumpsuit smiles while giving a thumbs up in front of a green garbage truck
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In the days of cameras on every phone and doorbells that record anyone who approaches a house, it seems like there’s always someone watching. Usually that’s a scary thought, but as three New Jersey garbage men remind us, it can also be a blessing. 

The trio was recently caught dancing down the street to the “Cupid Shuffle” while picking up trash cans. The video went viral.

As William Watson, one of the three men, described it, “I was kind of going through something, and I’m looking around, everybody’s moping, and they’re sad. I started dancing. Then he started dancing, then he started dancing . . . We didn’t even know we were being recorded.” 

Rodrick Samuels, another of the workers, started bringing a music speaker along their route the previous month because, in his view, the music “gets you through your day. Especially rain, cold weather.” 

And the impact hasn’t gone unnoticed by those they serve. As one resident described, “They are the best garbage men ever. Ever. Hands down. The best. And they boost up your spirits all day, every day.” 

“Let us rejoice”

While there may be a bit of exaggeration in that last statement, it just demonstrates the infectious quality of joy. When we live with joy, we can inspire others to do the same. The reason is that joy is a choice rather than merely the product of our circumstances. 

As Watson pointed out, all three of the garbage men were having a pretty rough day before they started dancing. They could have simply gone about their business, got through the day, and hoped for a better tomorrow. 

Instead, they chose to approach their remaining tasks with a different mentality. They chose joy, and that decision has brightened the day of countless others who saw the video. 

Each of us has that same potential. 

While most of us are probably not going to make it onto a viral video anytime soon, we each have the potential to help spread joy to our coworkers, neighbors, family members, etc. But it will be a lot easier to fulfill that potential if we are intentional about doing so. 

Fortunately, as Christians, we don’t need much to find reason for joy today. 

As the psalmist proclaimed, “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24). The simple knowledge that each of us woke up this morning in a world over which God is still sovereign means we can find joy in every situation because, in every situation, God is there. 

That doesn’t mean ignoring the trials or overlooking the troubles of this world. It simply means choosing to look for the joy that the Lord can bring in the midst of our pain. 

We don’t have to be having a great day to help make it a great day for those around us. We just have to make the choice to embrace the gift of joy that is freely offered to us through our connection to Christ (Galatians 5:22). 

Will you?

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