04
May
20

Caution? or Fear?

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:7, NLT)

Tilt A WhirlLast night I was in our kitchen making a salad. No biggie.

After chopping the tomatoes, I realized I still needed a few leaves of baby spinach for an iron boost. I turned around to the refrigerator, opened the door, and bent down to the open the vegetable-crisper drawer.

All of a sudden, the room started spinning and I became very woozy and disoriented.

Damn!” I thought. “Another vertigo attack.”

I have had these before, so I knew what to do. Joan helped me to the couch where I laid down and immediately began engaging in the Epley Maneuver. (Here is a helpful little diagram of the Epley Maneuver for those who are unfamiliar with it).

It had been more than a year since my last encounter with the vertigo monster. I have undergone countless neurological tests to determine what causes them. However, the best anyone can come up with is a diagnosis of “Benign Positional Vertigo,” meaning that sometimes, when I assume certain positions, little stones of calcium in my inner ear get dislodged and bring on the impromptu Tilt-A-Whirl.

I stop and do a little Epley-ing and the ride stops. The nausea induced by the spinning lasts much longer, but the spinning itself is usually tamed pretty quickly.

I was distressed because I really thought I was done with these. That is until BOOM! There it came… out of the clear blue sky.

As I lay there with the cold compress on my head, (thank you, sweetheart), I began ticking through the “what ifs”.

  • “What if I get a bunch of these back-to-back?”
  • “What if this happens while I’m driving… or walking the dogs… or mowing the lawn?”
  • “What if this is something more serious than misplaced little calcium stones?”

And then – without missing a beat – I began to strategize a whole new life pattern that would help steer me clear of any vertigo-induced mishaps. I probably shouldn’t drive a car anymore. I should probably wear a football helmet while out walking. Maybe it would be wise to pad all the corners in our house with Styrofoam bumpers!

That’s when I knew I had crossed over… from CAUTIOUS LIVING to FEARFUL LIVING.

It made me wonder if I really knew the difference between the two.

We are certainly in a time now when smart (and compassionate) people engage in cautious living. We stay inside unless absolutely necessary. We keep a safe distance from others if and when we go out. We wear face masks and gloves. We wash our hands with ridiculous frequency.

It is good to be cautious when a highly deadly, highly contagious virus is loose in the land.

But when do we cross over from wise caution to unwise (and we might even call it unfaithful) FEAR?

In these global pandemic time, the line between those two is very fine indeed.

The answer lies there in the word “spirit.” Caution might lead us to do exactly the same things that fear would. Fearful and cautious people both wear facemasks, don’t they? The difference is the SPIRIT with which they put them on.

And maybe – just maybe – we can keep ourselves on this side of the CAUTION/FEAR line by exercising some GRATITUDE. Because you see, when we pause and give thanks for the infinite blessings we still DO have, we are too busy to count up the things we MIGHT NOT HAVE should disaster strike.

I tried it last night after my vertigo attack and it was amazingly effective! I said, “Thank you God, for this Epley person… whoever he or she was.” “Thank you that I have this loving wife by my side to soothe me and bring me a cold washcloth.” “Thank you that I was here in my home when this happened and not out on the highway.” “Thank you that this is really nothing more than misplaced bits of calcium.”

Be cautious, yes. But do not fear.

 

… but don’t even get me started on that New York Times article about the arrival in this country of those Giant Asian Murder Hornets!!!


10 Responses to “Caution? or Fear?”


  1. May 4, 2020 at 8:26 pm

    … giant asian murder hornets? Ouch. I just looked them up. Nasty!

  2. May 5, 2020 at 1:40 pm

    No… I’m just being a wise guy. Apparently not very successfully.

  3. 5 Warren Molton
    May 5, 2020 at 5:51 pm

    So sorry you have these bouts with vertigo. I remember your telling me before, but had forgotten. You mentioned, “What happens if….” It seems that it only happens when you bend over and shake the inner ear. Sooooooooooo DON’T DOOO THAT! Teasing is fun until itz coming at’cha. Huh?

    Now, whata bout the book?

  4. 6 Bill & Jeanne Casey
    May 5, 2020 at 8:40 pm

    Pastor Russell:   This morning I read your 5/4 post Caution? or Fear?   It was very interesting to me as I, also, have attacks of vertigo from time to time.  Never any specific reason or time since the last one.  This has been going on since 1982.  I also had a lot of testing for the reason but in my case nothing was ever conclusive.   I just learned to live with them.  Well, about an hour or so after reading your post BAM – – I was hit with the worst case of vertigo that I have had in a very long time.  I remembered your sentence about the Epley Maneuver diagram, so I signed back on my computer., brought up my email, and clicked on the “Here” to print out the diagram.  As I looked at it I remembered a friend who had vertigo problems after seeing a dentist for a checkup and ended up going to Physical Therapy and they did maneuvers on her head/neck to “re-align the “crystals” in her ears!!   Low and behold your diagram was the exact set of maneuvers that she had described.   Well, I laid down on the floor and tried this out.  Almost immediately the dizziness was better.   I’m still thinking “what a co-incidence that I read your blog and then had a vertigo attack the same morning.  Lucky for me that the blog included the Epley Maneuver.  Thanks. Jeanne Casey P.S.  We still miss you around here.  I really am glad that the Russellings of the Spirit continue.  I really look forward to them and I forward them on to my sister.  We have returned to being Presbyterians but haven’t found the “friendly one” yet that we will commit to.  Methodist ARE friendlier than Presbyterians we found.  🙂

    • May 5, 2020 at 8:56 pm

      Jeanne;
      That is so AMAZING! If I didn’t know better I’d say it was a “God thing” or something. I am sorry you had to experience the vertigo, but glad that I can now point to one person my blog has actually helped! Hurray!
      We have just joined a Lutheran church here in Fort Collins. There are only two United Methodist churches in town and we didn’t really feel a fit with either one of them. The Lutheran church (called “Spirit of Joy,” by the way) is really close to our house and really warm and friendly and active in mission in the community. Back when we were still worshiping together they even let me play in the Praise Band!

      Give Bill my best. You two were always some of the most loving and supportive people I remember. I always appreciated your presence.

      Best of luck staying healthy and vertigo-free!

      – Russell B.

  5. May 5, 2020 at 10:39 pm

    Ah, been there, Russ. It’s so easy to cross over from cautious to fearful. And I do think you’re right about gratitude being the cure. Come to think of it, gratitude is the cure for a lot of things, isn’t it?

  6. June 2, 2020 at 3:56 am

    Thanks for the Epley Maneuver. I suffer from vertigo every now and then. The nausea is the worse part for me, but I’ll try this next time.


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