“If you are someone who feels your existence deeply, you’ll experience sorrow in an especially profound way”


Everyone has reasons to be sad, but if you are someone who feels your existence deeply, you’ll experience sorrow in an especially profound way. Compared to this, every other sadness seems a charade. To be aware you’re alive is genuinely painful, but if you’re fortunate enough to feel not merely who you are but that you are, you understand more than others do why sorrow is universal and inescapable. Without experiencing godly sorrow, a person can never know real grief. If you lack that, weep to get it.

Godly sorrow cleanses the soul. It purifies the spirit, both of sin and of sin’s shadow, which is suffering, and it readies the soul to receive the joy that snatches away your self-awareness. When your sorrow is genuine, it’s a deep holy longing, full of sacred desires, or you would not be able to bear its intensity. And if you didn’t have the joy of these desires feeding your soul during contemplation, you couldn’t bear the pain of knowing and feeling that you are. Every time you long for a pure knowing and feeling of God (as far as is possible here) and find these blocked immediately because they are occupied and filled up by that repulsive, rancid lump of yourself, which must always be hated, despised, and forsaken if you want to be God’s perfect disciple, as he taught on the mount of perfection, this frustration can nearly drive you out of your mind with sorrow, weeping, lamenting, struggling, cursing, and self-accusation. To sum up, this burden of self can become so great that you no longer care what happens to it, as long as God is pleased.

But nowhere in this sorrow should you ever wish to not-be. Thoughts of suicide are the devil’s madness. They’re a slap in God’s face. We’re meant to be grateful for the gift of life. God gave us this precious present. But it’s also OK to wish with every moment that you could lose your awareness and feeling of your own being.

Godly sorrow and the deep longing it stirs in your soul are requirements for spiritual growth. If you’ll open yourself up to God, he’ll teach you these, in ways tailor-made for you. God’s pedagogy is always personal. He wants only the best for you. If you are his student and he is your teacher, then you’re also his friend. He knows the contour of your abilities and can teach you about love. Pay attention, and his grace will bind your soul to him in the joyful union of loving on earth as best as you can.

The Cloud of Unknowing 

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2 Responses to “If you are someone who feels your existence deeply, you’ll experience sorrow in an especially profound way”

  1. Pingback: Feeling Existence Deeply – joshua watson

  2. Basem says:

    I am actually listening to this masterpiece on Audible now (good way to use commute time) and I am blown away! The deep spirituality of this masterpiece traverses back in time to the Ancient Desert Fathers. The one fact, beyond the appeal of the actual content to the edified senses, that gives this masterpiece authority is the insistence of the author to remain anonymous so he won’t even keep an ounce of God’s Glory to himself! The ultimate identification with the self denial of The Son of God who emptied Himself for the life of the world!

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