Spiritual Vertigo


Running into walls. Immobilized flat on the floor, room spinning like a tilt-a-whirl.

Vertigo – way beyond mere dizziness – often strikes suddenly and without warning. You go to sleep fine only to find your face flat against the wall when you try to walk after getting out of bed in the morning.

Causes for vertigo range from inner ear infections and sinus problems to Mal de Debarquement Syndrome (a real gem of an experience) and Eustachian tube dysfunction. Yep, had them each lead to vertigo more than once over the past 10 years.

Along with the carnival atmosphere in my head comes a general feeling of nausea along with the sense that my body and the room are at odds and at the same time united as one. Difficult to concentrate for sure when even a slight movement can be dizzying.

Since vertigo visits me at least yearly and usually 2-3 times a year, I know some tricks for speeding it along its way. Sinus spray, extra chiropractor visits and allergy medication all encourage an early departure. And never does vertigo leave soon enough.

Spiritual vertigo also disrupts my life from time to time. When this happens, I work to eliminate the cause and to basically hit my reset button. Unlike physical vertigo though, which often hits quite unexpectedly, a lot can be done to prevent spiritual vertigo from ever happening in the first place.

vertigo quote

Spiritual vertigo feels like a rut, like being stuck in the muck and mire of a pit. Feelings dictate actions, and truth becomes muffled. When you have spiritual vertigo, you feel like you’ve hit a wall and don’t know which way is up. Symptoms also include…

  1. A sort of scripture reading dyslexia where words fail to have meaning.
  2. An inability to focus, especially in churc
  3. Difficulty listening to any pastor or Sunday school teacher let alone to a friend wanting to talk about Jesus.
  4. A desire for instant and material gratification increases
  5. Telling others about worries, fears and problem instead of going to God with them.
  6. Guilt for not doing enough in any area of life.
  7. General apathy for life.

Spiritual vertigo usually hits me when I…

  1. Let down my guard.
  2. Get too busy and fail to consistently apply the basics (prayer, Bible study, fellowship & praise).
  3. Let others negatively impact my attitude.
  4. Forget to steer clear of comparisons.
  5. Let circumstances dictate the existence of peace and joy.
  6. Let another person shake my faith.
  7. Get overwhelmed with life.

Whether my own fault or the result of a fallen world (usually a combination of both), God allows spiritual vertigo to motivate me toward change. Perhaps He wants me to accept a new level of leadership or confront a wayward friend. Or maybe He simply wants me to remember my dependence on Him as I realize my utter helplessness in a world spinning out of control.

Coming soon… The Cure for Spiritual Vertigo.

DISCUSSION: Please share any experiences with vertigo, physical or spiritual in the comments.

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16 Replies to “Spiritual Vertigo”

  1. I've been plagued with inner ear trouble most my life. Vertigo is no fun! In recent years I started eating better and eating a lot of fruits/berries high in antioxidants. My vertigo seldom comes to visit anymore.

    Our time spent in communion with God does wonders to prevent spiritual vertigo, similar to what the berries have done for my physical occurrences.

    1. Diet definitely makes a difference. My vertigo & balance issues definitely flare up when my body feels inflamed for whatever reason, which I've come to realize is a combination of diet and environment. Another story for another time. More of Jesus is always the answer, isn't it? I mean, we pretend to wonder sometimes what to do in any given situation, and the answer is always that. Hmmm…

  2. I have had vertigo a time or two. I have had spiritual vertigo more than I care to admit. Really appreciated your lists Kari. I find my spiritual vertigo more prevalent when I am trying to hide something from God or people. Gets me all messed up.

    1. Oh yeah, that will do it just about every time. It's funny that we try to do it because it's really not possible to do. Always catches up with us. Transparency seems to make a huge difference in warding off spiritual vertigo.

  3. Great analogy!

    God has been showing me that I tend to fall for "comparisons". It's a trick of satan's I repeatedly fall into. But now that I realize it, it's easier to walk away instead of analyzing all the ways I'm different than others. I am me. I am created unique…just like they are. My marriage, my son, my career, everything is different from anyone elses and I don't need to fall for that trap anymore. It's just so subtle that it sneaks up on me sometimes.

    Enjoyed reading this post. Keep it up!

    1. Thanks, TC. Comparisons are a big one for me too. So big, in fact, that I have a book idea centered around the topic. Focusing on His design for us as unique individuals truly is the only way to battle this one.

  4. Thankfully I have never had vertigo…. well physically anyway. I think my problems come up when I do not do the basics you mention.

  5. Kari, your post always amaze me. You pack more truth into it and give direction on how to apply the truth and what it looks like when not applying the truth. Great post. Have had spiritual vertigo but never the physical kind.

  6. I didn't know you experienced vertigo, Kari. I've had bouts for the last 10 years or so although it only hits when I'm skiing in heavily falling snow or driving at night when it's snowing. It's terrible! The first time I could barely get down the mountain. Every time I get it, I can't walk for two hours and then I'm fine. Strange!

  7. I've been experiencing a little dizziness and lack of balance lately, too. It comes and goes quickly, but I hope it's nothing serious.
    As far as spiritual vertigo, I tend to get it when I let the stresses of this world drive me away from God instead of to God.

    1. If your dizziness and balance issues are minor right now, just a decongestant (nasal spray or pill) may do the trick. With spiritual vertigo, I too tend to let my circumstances determine my joy and peace all too often. Working to let my standing with God determine them rather than circumstances.

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