Defiant Joy with Stasi Eldredge, Part Two

This week, Dan continues his conversation with Stasi Eldredge, whose new book, Defiant Joy: Taking Hold of Hope, Beauty, and Life in a Hurting World, explores the need for honest engagement of our pain and brokenness to cultivate deep, lasting joy. Last week, Stasi and Dan talked about the complexity of being able to hold sorrow and joy together, and why that notion of defiance is so important. This week, the conversation turns to that which steals joy—the internal and external factors that work to disrupt our capacity for joy and block us from the life we were created for.

Stasi: “When it comes to the things that would steal the goodness of our souls, steal our union with God, steal knowing His love—that requires a defiant stance rather than just being bowled over.”

Stasi introduces a few major categories of joy killers that are crucial to consider. The first is comparison, which Dan connects to envy: a posture that is marked by a lack of compassion and walls us off from connecting with God and other people. That wall—anything that separates us from intimacy and communion with God and others—is perhaps the most effective way to rob ourselves of joy, which is intimately connected to how we love and how we allow ourselves to be loved.

Dan: “Comparison that leads to something of death in envy will always create something destitute, and therefore an absence of joy.”

Another thief of joy Stasi introduces is the pressure to be amazing, to come through, to carry the burdens of others—a pressure that is so often a skewed version of our call to love and serve others. This need to rescue and be the hero is rooted in a toxic combination of grandiosity and fear—the inflated sense that “I’m the only one who can help” coupled with the deep fear of “I need to prove my worth in the world.”

When we compare lives, we diminish our own.

Stasi: “Pressure is a joy killer. It flattens all possibilities of a lightheartedness, or of being connected to the life of God. Actually knowing that it’s not up to you is a really wonderful thing.”

Dan: “There are so many ways—through addiction, through shame, through failures—that feel like they are part of the comparison, part of the resentment, and in many ways part of that sense of pressure of we’ve got to be better in order to have joy. And that’s just a lie.”

Stasi: “There’s no getting to a room that you are already in. You’re already at the center of God’s heart. […] We don’t have to be better in order for God to love us. And that’s revolutionary right there.”

After discussing the most common and destructive thieves of joy, Dan and Stasi turn to that which cultivates joy, including a posture of openness to both gratitude and grief. Deep gratitude is not a false smile or a denial of heartache, it is a defiant belief that in our deepest pain and darkest trauma, God is there, and the story is still being written.

Stasi: “The key to cultivating joy is cultivating a heart of gratitude. Gratitude is what unlocks joy. […] We cannot experience the deep foundation of joy if it’s not preceded by a heart of gratitude.”

Dan: “Gratitude is the precondition to being able to embrace both suffering and goodness.”

We are aware that, in these last two episodes, there are sound issues that lessen the enjoyment of listening. We apologize that the technical quality does not match our usual standards, and we are working to address the issue for future recordings. In the meantime, we hope you are still able to find meaning and encouragement in the beauty and depth of Dan and Stasi’s conversation.