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“The Battle of the Joshes” crowns ultimate Josh: How to find purpose in happiness

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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Lincoln native four-year-old Joshua Vinson Jr., top right, is lifted into the air after being declared the ultimate Josh after the Josh fight took place in an open green space at Air Park on Saturday, April 24, 2021, in Lincoln, Neb (Kenneth Ferriera/Lincoln Journal Star via AP)
Lincoln native four-year-old Joshua Vinson Jr., top right, is lifted into the air after being declared the ultimate Josh after the Josh fight took place in an open green space at Air Park on Saturday, April 24, 2021, in Lincoln, Neb (Kenneth Ferriera/Lincoln Journal Star via AP)

“Josh” has ranked as one of the top fifty most popular names for boys in America since 1973. As a result, you can imagine how difficult it might be for many with that moniker to stand out. 

Josh Swain, a twenty-two-year-old Arizona college student, decided to do something about that. 

As Eric Todisco describes, Swain “sent a Facebook message last April to dozens of other people who shared his first name” and “informed the other Joshes to meet at a location in Lincoln [Nebraska] on April 24, 2021,” where they would do battle to determine who held the ultimate claim to their name. 

While the year-long wait was largely a result of Covid precautions, it also gave the idea time to grow and spread to the point that when the fateful day finally arrived, hundreds of Joshes had arrived with pool noodles, ready to fight. 

By the end of the mass melee, five-year-old Lincoln resident Josh Vinson Jr. emerged victorious with the Burger King crown and championship belt to prove it. As his father, Josh Vinson Sr., told reporters after the event, “He’s going to remember this for the rest of his life.” 

Appreciate what makes you happy

To be honest, I wasn’t drawn to this story because it immediately brought to mind some deep theological or cultural application. While I’m sure those connections exist—and perhaps God has already brought some to mind for you—the reason this story stuck with me is that it made me happy.

It was fun reading about something as innocent and pleasant as a bunch of random people coming together to hit each other with pool noodles. It was fun seeing the videos of young Josh Vinson Jr. celebrated by everyone else in attendance. And it was fun seeing the look of pride on his dad’s face as he reflected on what it would mean for his son. 

I guess if there’s one big idea I’m going to take away from this story, and that I hope sticks with you as well, it’s simply this: take the time to appreciate what makes you happy.

Maybe it’s a good book or a fun television show. Perhaps it’s time with friends or even just an afternoon alone. But whatever brings you joy, don’t make the mistake of thinking it’s not important simply because it may not always seem to carry some profound purpose. 

Sometimes those simple moments of joy are all the purpose you need. And if you invite God to join in, you just might find that they carry more significance than anything else you do today.