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Poor Jimmy Stewart: every time he gets up too high and looks down, this weird spiral thing happens and he feels himself falling, all the while trying to solve a mystery and keep his love life sane.  I’m working my way again through some of my favorite Hitchcock classics and was thinking about this movie because, in the last couple of months my own VERTIGO has been haunting me (the weather/sinus issues?)

ver-ti-go (noun)
a sensation of whirling and loss of balance, associated particularly with looking down from a great height, or caused by disease affecting the inner ear or the vestibular nerve; giddiness.

This (like some other minor ailments, involving sinuses and the inner-ear) is something that I had never experienced before I moved to Hoosierland AND, I might add, turned 50.  I have a friend who was suffering pretty severely a week ago with it and, though still at work, was not able to stand for very long, and definitely not without support.

My first experience with vertigo was around 2005 and it hit me suddenly, I honestly didn’t know what had happened except that I had to lay flat on my back for about 36 hours without moving.  I’ve not had it that bad since then.  I’m writing about it now because I’ve been dealing with it for the past months.  It’s not been bad, and I actually don’t have much of a problem during my work day (unless I bend over to pick something up), but when I lay down at night, and roll from one side to the other, and when I sit up to get out of bed…wow!

It’s difficult to describe to someone who hasn’t experienced it, and its symptoms probably vary from person to person, but for me the effect is not dizziness so much, as a sudden confusion as to what is down and what is up.  When I fell over once, it wasn’t the sensation of falling, so much as it was the sensation that the floor rose to greet me.  Totally disconcerting.

The cause seems to be something very, very small.  My doctor informed me early on that quite possibly (in my case) it could be allergy-driven and maybe as simple and tiny as infinitesimal calcium particles irritating my inner ear.  How very strange that something that tiny, in a small part of the body can cause a person’s ENTIRE body to be unbalanced, and to misread what is real.

Our lives get “out-of-balance” in the same way.  Oh sure, there are LARGE things that throw us off, that cause any BELIEVER & FOLLOWER to lose focus on life’s meaning, on God, on “what is real”.  Those are the things we preach/teach about are life’s “curves”.  But the scripture, and Paul’s words specifically, warn against being unprepared for the small things.  We don’t realize the big effect of things that seem irrelevant and small.

Paul encourages us to live life as if we were running a race, and to “take off” anything that hinders our performance in that race.  He writes at a time, in Greek history, when foot races were run by naked runners, literally unencumbered by ANYTHING that would slow them down.  Today’s racers, thankfully for the sake of modesty, don’t run naked but DO wear running clothes with little or no air friction.

But what some BELIEVERS & FOLLOWERS don’t understand is that Paul isn’t necessarily always talking about doing away with “sin”, but with ANYTHING that would keep us from focusing on God and the “race of life”,some of these things are not bad in themselves, but maybe not conducive to a good life/race.  And some of these things are small, tiny…seemingly unimportant and benign.

But, as with the causes of vertigo, we understand that a small insignificant thing (not bad in itself) can affect the entire body in ways that are amazing.  When a person suffering from vertigo can’t tell, from what they see, where “down” is…”down” will find THEM quickly…because that natural gyroscope that we all have but don’t really control, is out of whack, and the world seems un-centered.

When we exercise our physical bodies, we notice there are things (foods, for instance), which may not be bad in themselves, but might not be quite the right foods for our growth and well-being.  We feel muscles we’ve never felt before, we notice subtle things that went unnoticed when our physical senses were not so finely tuned. In the same way, when we exercise our spirits, the closer we get to God, the more refined our senses (spiritual and physical) become.  We notice and sense the more subtle things.  In other words, it’s not only when we are OUT of a relationship with God that our equilibriums fool us, sometimes the larger problems come when we grow closer to God and our spiritual senses become more finely-tuned.  In that place, we may not always be able to tell which end is up, and the cause may be something so seemingly small and insignificant that we wouldn’t even think of it.

So Jimmy Stewart DID get over his fear-based vertigo and all was well as the credits rolled.  What about you?  What keeps you from winning the race each day?  Are there times when your soul feels unsettled?  Are there moments when the world seems out-of-balance…when your life-equilibrium is out-of-whack?  Check the small things: unjustified fears, unnecessary habits, unhealthy patterns of thought, unreconciled relationships, grudges, or lies from your past.  Some of these “small” things are like little bits of calcium in the inner ear that go unnoticed until it moves our entire bodies off-kilter.