What is 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.

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 a few 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, though it never leaves soon enough.

Spiritual Vertigo

Spiritual vertigo also disrupts my life from time to time. When it 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.

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 church.
  3. Difficulty listening to any pastor or Sunday school teacher let alone to a friend wanting to talk about Jesus.
  4. An increased desire for instant and material gratification.
  5. Telling others about worries, fears, and problems 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 pray, read my Bible, and participate in fellowship and 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.

What I’ve learned about spiritual vertigo is that God allows it 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.

Fortunately, God has the cure for spiritual vertigo. Though always a rough season, I am grateful for these times of spiritual vertigo because God always uses them to get me back in balance with him.