Disoriented /disˈôrēˌent/ adj.- Having lost one’s sense of time, place, or identity. 


When we struggle with where we are, when we are, and consequently who we are, the world ceases to make sense. It leaves us discombobulated to coin one of my favorite terms. 

A few more terms: 

  • Confused  
  • Frustrated  
  • Rudderless  
  • Lost  


Have you felt any of these? Do you feel them right now? Why? That is the question we seek to answer. 

 2020 was a disorienting year. 2021 has not proven to be much better…yet.   

 Do you feel out of place or not sure where you are? Hard not to feel a little out of sorts after 2020. However, we can stop feeling sorry for ourselves. Disorientation is part of the human condition and history. This is merely our time at bat. 

 Disorientation is a huge trope in fictional literature and movies. Most readers have heard of the Jason Bourne books and movies. Perfect example. The protagonist winds up in the middle of the Indian Ocean only to be retrieved by a fishing boat. He has zero idea where he is, when he is, and most frightening who he is. 

 The confusion can be temporarylike losing electricity. It can also last longer as you become disillusioned with your faith, church, job, people, or life in general. 

 Do you have or have you ever had personal struggles with your time, place, or identity? I sure have Being a parent is like that. 

 I felt a little disoriented the day we brought Alec, our first-born, home from the hospital. A parent will always have the details of that day down. Right? This may shock people, but I was a wee bit nervous about the whole parenting enterprise. The entire process scared me. Holding the baby. Fixing the car seat. Putting him in the car seat. Paying for him!! Money$$ money$$! Everything. 

 Here is how that special day went down. Two nurses bring my wife Lea down in a wheelchair holding Alec. I will never forget that interaction. The nurses hand me Alec, help Lea up, and mutter “good luck” in my general direction and “poof” they disappear through the automatic sliding door. I struggle loading Alec into the seat and get in the car to drive away. Lea is bawling. Like a whimpering cry. I am thinking “hormones??” but decide to be sensitive. 

 The conversation actually went something like this: 

Me: “Is everything okay?” 

 Lea: (through whimpering tears) “we only have him for 18 years.” 

 The words hit me between the eyes. I was freaking out because my world was changing. However, it was time to put my selfish ways to the side and embrace the blessing of being a dad and stop fretting over the burden. 

 Those 18 years are over. Alec headed off to college last year. Sure, thousands of 18-year-olds head to the dorms annually. Yet this rite of passage challenged not only his identity and sense of self but also our entire family identity. Who am I as a father? My wife had a new role. Even his brother, the future world ruler, struggled with big brother’s pending absence. Weird time. Disorienting. Mom was not the only onshedding tears. 

 If such a product existed, I would relive days when my boys were little-racing Alec down the hallway, batting practice…watching movies…when he accepted Jesus…the exact moment he said something hilarious. This product might come with a special moments package, but really just reliving one day would be awesome! 

 Yet we knew this was time to let go and the first step toward greater blessings for Alec. Sometimes worldly confusion yields eternal blessings. Join the Wonkyfied podcast as we discuss how being disoriented only leads to more incredible blessings from God.  

Dr. Rob is an emerging thought leader in politics and policy, urban studies, and the Christian walk. He currently serves as Dean of the College of Humanities & Social Sciences at Dallas Baptist University. You can follow his podcast on CPN network at https://www.charismapodcastnetwork.com/show/wonkyfied or learn more at www.drrobsullivan.com 







25 responses to “Disoriented”

  1. The overall concept of this one I found very interesting, especially for where I am in life. Chaos seems like its been the status quo over the past two years, and so far real alteration seems to be in the far horizon if anywhere at all.

  2. As I reflect on the unraveling in my life, your point about how “sometimes worldly confusion yields eternal blessings” keeps ringing louder in my mind. It has challenged me to question what the Lord is trying to prepare me for via the disoriented compartments in my life. It also provided the revelation of who or what is Lord of my life. What is most real in my life? What am I unwilling to let go through the midst of the chaos? Why am I hold fast to that? I think the answers become apparent in how I respond to the disorientations. This is then, where I feel the Lord inviting me to look through His lens. The lens that provide an eternal perspective. I enjoyed reading this fun yet insightful post!

  3. As a college student, I definitely feel disorientated (especially right now!). Especially with COVID-19, it’s difficult to juggle classes that are online/hybrid that weren’t originally designed to be that way. However, things are looking up, so I hope that we can all feel a little more at-ease in the future!

  4. Really good points! I certainly relate to the story you told about your oldest son leaving for college. I have two older brothers who are both twins so it was a big change for not only me but also everyone else in my house when they left for school. You made a good point though, you stated that those types of challenges are temporary, and looking back they were.
    That is something that I think a lot of believers need to remember is that when we are facing confusion, disillusionment, or fear we need to remember that God is the author and perfecter of our lives and to aim to be rooted in him for all our needs is key to success, because God is our help.

  5. I feel like everyone is a little disorientated when they begin their freshmen year of college. It is a new environment, new people, and new responsibilities. It can be a lot to adjust to because you have to learn a brand new routine and lifestyle. It probably took me the whole first semester to adjust to college, being away from family, and finding community. I have learned so much about myself and my faith throughout this year. All of the disorientation allowed me to grow and also to see the Lord’s faithfulness. I learned to put my trust in Him and rely on him for guidance and strength. I also learned the importance of prayer and seeing God’s goodness in that.

  6. Thank you for sharing such an interesting blog, and I agree a time machine would be very useful to relive days of our lives. Being disoreiented is often the first step to clarity. Although it can be a tough lesson sometimes it is necassary.

  7. I feel like everyone’s a little disoriented when they begin their freshman year of college. It is a new environment, new people, and new responsibilities. It can be a lot to adjust to because you have to learn a brand new routine and lifestyle. It probably took me the whole first semester to adjust to college, being away from family, and finding community. I have learned so much about myself and my faith throughout this year. All of the disorientation allowed me to grow and also to see the Lord’s faithfulness. I learned to put my trust in Him and rely on him for guidance and strength. I also learned the importance of prayer and seeing God’s goodness in that.

  8. “Disoriented”
    This blog is relevant to the course because this semester we have been learning about things that have happened in America and the reasoning behind things that happen. A lot of times, especially around the topic of elections, people have felt disoriented, confused , frustrated, rudderless, and lost . The culture in America today is very opinionated with not many facts to follow up the opinions. 21st century Americans have made it known that they want equality and to have their voices heard about pretty much every controversial issue in existence. This blog talks about those feelings of not knowing what was going to happen in 2020 and that everyone feels disoriented right now and that’s okay. The current event is what happened in 2020. It was a very disorienting year for everyone. We had lots of obstacles and everyone had to make accommodations for everyday life. The reason the year 2020 was so disoriented was mainly because of COVID-19, but there was a multitude of other things that occurred in 2020 that caused it to be weird including deadly wasps, wearing masks, things shutting down, the black lives matter movement, the election, and many more things. People learned a lot in 2020 and it changed people for the better. I chose this article because I was able to relate to it since I experienced 2020 firsthand and it has changed my life since it was my graduation year as well as the first half of my freshman year of college. I would address the problem of feeling disoriented by approaching it with positivity and thinking about what Jesus would do in the situation. Faith informs my response because if Jesus was on earth during 2020, he would approach the issue with leadership and kindness exemplifying God in everything He does. More people need to think like Jesus and put God forest in everything they do as well as every decision they make. If more people did what Jesus would do or thought the way Jesus would think then we would never have any conflict in any of the issues that occurred in 2020.

  9. I want to start off by saying that I like the way you tell stories. This post is so important because you made yourself vulnerable expressing a time of big change in your life, which all of us go through. Thank you for sharing your period of disorientation and making it more bearable to the rest of us, since we can understand it better.

  10. This very accurately what I feel on a weekly basis as an emerging adult. If you know anything about the Enneagram personality test I am a type 4. To put it short, the main thing a type 4 struggles with is identity; who am I in the world? What is my role? What is my purpose? This article hits home for me. I have tried on different identities for “size” throughout my life, but I never find the one that fits me best. I constantly come back to the question, “no really, who am I?”

    No matter where I go, I always feel like I’m not really a part of it, yet I still have that aching feeling to be a part. It is as though normality has swallowed the key. I know what I need to do is press past this lie that lives in my head, and believe that I do in fact have a purpose in this world. My works and talents will be used by God to advance the Kingdom. I thought I would be relieved when I found out that I really am seen, but the greatest relief I’ve had is finding out that I’m not really that great. The world does not revolve around me. My favorite quote is “stay small and do your job.” My identity is in Christ. I don’t have to make one or achieve one. It is up to God to use me, whether that means I rise to the top, fall to the bottom, or remain somewhere in the middle. I will be content.

  11. Really fantastic message. Identity and feeling lost are extremely relevant topics in today’s culture. hundreds of years ago, and even up into much of the modern era, everyone had their place in society and in their families, so figuring out “who you were” wasn’t such a big deal. But in today’s age of endless possibilities and the ability to be or do whatever you want it has become increasingly easy for us to put our identities in unreliable places. I think this idea of disorientation is somewhat that has really harmed the church in recent years.

    This has become apparent with the rise of the Deconstruction movement. This is a group of young Americans who grew up in protestant Christian homes and churches and have become disillusioned with traditional Christian beliefs, teaching, and theology. In most examples of people I know that are a part of this group it always stemmed from some issue they had within their church or some way they were let down or hurt. I think that this is caused by people placing their identities (specifically their religious identities) in a particular religious institution. Institutions are made and run by humans are destined to make mistakes. It would seem that once a Deconstructionist sees this failure they question everything it was built on and doubts the roots of their faith. The problems caused by losing our identities are remedied only by placing our identities in Christ because he will not fail and will not leave us lost and disoriented.

  12. life is fairly short and moves so fast. Our day to day is filled to the brim with crazy events. This year we had covid, elections, riots…etc long year. The important thing is just taking a breathe and realizing God is in Control. Right now life might not be easy, but life is like that. all we can do is keep moving forward as life speeds on.

    this is a very relevant post in light of this past year. a lot of unknown future lies ahead so we just need to remember that life is crazy but it will all be ok.

    Christian Fleming

  13. I would say I have reached a point in my life where I have become quite disoriented from time to time. Looking towards graduation, I get overwhelmed with questions like “will I finish all my assignments on time?” “what am I going to do next?” “where am I going to live?” “am I a failure for moving home to save money before getting married?” Although graduation is not quite the same as parenthood, I can certainly identify with that wild feeling that comes with being rushed into a new stage of life. Even though it is a step that you are well aware of, be it a nine-month or a four-year warning period, it still feels like the change comes abruptly. This blog both reminded me and encouraged me that the Lord is sweet and all-knowing and He has a plan for my life that is outside of my realm of understanding. But as long as I lean on Him, I will be content and He will help me through the trials and scary steps that come with jumping into a new routine.

  14. Really Interesting! identity is such an important idea now in our culture and for me personally not knowing how I was or who I was going to be come caused much stress in my life making me feel disoriented. I also loved your idea of “sometimes worldly confusion yields eternal blessings” definitely something I’ll need to reflect on.

  15. This post was a very interesting aspect to take on the whole process of really becoming a dad. Taking a wise perspective on the whole “disorientation” one might feel when all this change is occurring was smart. Knowing that it’s important to set aside your feelings of anxiousness regarding what change you are going through to put the needs of your child first is a very wise action to take. I feel like you putting your feelings behind you and focusing on helping others, like your child, helped you become a father.

  16. I find this blog very interesting. This topic isn’t really touched on however it is important since this is a universal feeling we all have felt at some point in our lives. There is so much change in our adult years. Graduating high school, moving to college, getting a job and starting a family usually happens in a span of 10 years, 18-28. During this time it is common to feel disoriented, lost and confused. I think it is important to analyze and pinpoint your emotions and pray that God gives you peace.

  17. With all the crazy things that have been unfolding these past few years. It is hard to stay focused and I find myself feeling alone and lost but then I can sit back and relax and realize that none of that matters because God is always working and always in control. Although many more years are ahead, and as crazy as they might get, we must remember that Gods got us and were gonna be alright.

  18. This was a very interesting post. As someone who just moved to college myself I know how crazy this feeling can be. I like to think though that there can be some excitement in the newness of all of this. I liked this post and am glad to see that other people feel the same way.

  19. I want to express right away that I appreciate your storytelling style. This post is extremely significant because you exposed a period of significant shift in your life—a period of vulnerability that all of us experience. We appreciate you opening up about your period of confusion since it helps the rest of us to better understand your experience.

  20. This post is extremely significant because you exposed a period of significant shift in your life—a period of vulnerability that all of us experience. We appreciate you opening up about your period of confusion since it helps the rest of us to better understand your experience.

  21. I loved the story you told about your wife, and even though I’m the child growing up and moving to college in this scenario, I related with the overall message. Sometimes I don’t feel disoriented during the chaos when life is busy and hectic–I feel disoriented after the fact, in the stillness. But like you said, even those feelings of being disoriented can make you turn to God for peace and direction and end up being a blessing.

  22. It’s important to be part of the moment. It’s easy to slip out of the moment and get into your head about what others think of you. which is why we renew our minds in Christ!
    Good discussion topic!!

  23. It’s funny every time I ask my dad what went down the day I was born, he always shakes his head in disappointment and goes “it really was a blur.” Similar to your experience, he shared how stressed, worried, and disoriented he was. Not just because I was his first child, but also because I was a girl who would eventually grow up to become the young woman I am today. It was very unique to hear your perspective about your son moving towards the next step of his life, and what that was like for your family. I just left home to attend school here in Dallas and I never thought deeply about what my parents and little brothers are experiencing through this change. This was very informative and interesting.

  24. Being disoriented is such a relatable feeling. I can remember burying my head in politics during COVID because I had nothing better to attach myself to and wasn’t in the Word as much as I should have been. It became disorienting being submerged in the 24 hour news cycle, following the world through every up and down, large and small. I was so concerned with orienting myself in the outside, that I was completely disoriented within myself. I did not know who I was. Thankfully, when I got out of COVID I rejoined myself with real life and became reoriented in Christ.

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