slow down, you crazy child

I was 13 years old the first time I heard the song Vienna by Billy Joel; I’d gone to see the movie “13 Going On 30” for my 13th birthday with a group of girls that by some miracle I have managed to stay in touch with for over a decade now.  (Seriously, how many people can say that they still talk to the group of friends that they hung out with in middle school?)  My parents had subsequently given me the soundtrack and probably regretted that decision every day for the next who-knows-how-many-months that I blared it over and over and over again from the stereo in my room.  I can’t honestly say that I’m any kind of Billy Joel fan – I couldn’t name another song title by him unless you let me phone a friend (named Google), but his lyrics to this one song have been woven into the soundtrack of my life since I was a pre-teen.

I can’t remember the last time I actually listened to it before today, but as I found myself humming the tune while going about my workday, I realized that the message of its words couldn’t be more fitting to this particular season of my life.

slow down, you crazy child
you’re so ambitious for a juvenile
but then if you’re so smart, tell me –
why are you still so afraid?

where’s the fire?  what’s the hurry about?
you better cool it off before you burn it out
you got so much to do and only so many hours in a day.

but you know that when the truth is told
that you can get what you want, or you can just get old
you’re gonna kick off before you even get halfway through
when will you realize – Vienna waits for you?

slow down, you’re doing fine
you can’t be everything you want to be before your time
although it’s so romantic on the borderline tonight

too bad, but it’s the life you lead
you’re so ahead of yourself that you forgot what you need
though you can see when you’re wrong
you know, you can’t always see when you’re right

you got your passion, you got your pride
but don’t you know that only fools are satisfied?
dream on, but don’t imagine they’ll all come true
when will you realize – Vienna waits for you?

slow down, you crazy child,
take the phone off the hook and disappear for awhile
it’s alright, you can afford to lose a day or two
when will you realize – Vienna waits for you?

and you know that when the truth is told,
that you can get what you want or you can just get old
you’re gonna kick off before you even get halfway through
why don’t you realize – Vienna waits for you?
when will you realize – Vienna waits for you?

The past month has been full of lots change and transition for me – less than one week after getting back from a full and lovely long weekend spent celebrating the weddings of two dear friends in my beloved home-city, I moved into a new house in a new town with a new roommate and just one short week later started a(nother) new job.  (If you’re keeping count, that’s three jobs in less than one year of living in Arkansas.  *insert exasperated eye roll*  And if you’re thinking that I sound like another one of those non-committal millennials who’s always chasing the next best thing and can never just be content and faithful to what’s already in front of them – you are embodying one of my biggest fears.  Just kidding…sort of.  Would you believe me if I said that one of my biggest hang-ups in wrestling with God over each decision to take a new job has been “But Lord, am I succumbing to the culture of my job-hopping generation?  Please don’t let people see me as one of those millennials.”?  I know, I know…trusting God over fear of man and all of that.  I digress.)

Honestly, this latest round of adjustment and new-ness has felt kind of like how I imagine it would feel to have a quadruple shot of espresso injected into the IV bag of someone who’s been on a steady drip of strong coffee for the past two and a half years.  Sure, it’s been jarring in some ways, but as I look back at my life post-college, it has pretty much been one long string of significant change and transition.  Perhaps those of you who are a little older and wiser are thinking, “welcome to the rest of your life, honey.  It’s all one big chain of change from here.”  And I’ve probably heard that from you before, but I guess I just needed to figure it out for myself.

Anyway, I guess all of this is just to say that I needed this Vienna message today.  When I realized that my new work schedule was going to give four whole extra hours of free time every day, my first thoughts were “What can I plan?  How can I use that time wisely and most effectively to make things happen that will make me happy?  What else do I need to do?”  Just a few days after moving in, I was sharing some of this internal dialogue with my roommate and her response was priceless – she looked at me with raised eyebrows and asked, “what if you just took a few days to rest and let yourself adjust to this new season?”  I’m pretty sure my mouth was already open about to launch into a list of possible ways I could “not waste” this time when her simple but oh-so-wise suggestion stopped me in my tracks.  I exhaled an audible sigh of relief that I hadn’t realized I’d been holding back, and thanked her.

It’s been nearly a month since that conversation, and still I find myself constantly needing to be reminded that it’s okay to just slow down.

When I woke up with Vienna stuck in my head this morning, I recognized it as a subtle reminder from the Lord that His message to me right now is (still): “Wait for [Me]; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord.” (Psalm 27:14).  And so, I’m trying to figure out what it looks like to do things like wait and rest and abide in a season where my heart that’s full of unmet longings and yet-to-be-fulfilled dreams is tempted to look around in despair and bitterness and angst at all the people whose lives seemed to be full of all the things I long for right now (a husband, children, a successful ministry, an established community, financial freedom, etc.).  And how gloriously fitting is it that just one verse earlier David admits, “I would have despaired had I not believed that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living!” (Psalm 27:13)

So I’m training my heart to believe that I will see the goodness of Lord here in the land of the actual life that I’m currently living, and not the one that I’d hoped or planned for.  And you know what?  When I stop and look for it, I can see His faithfulness in a lot of little ways that He’s moving me closer to the woman I wish I could already be.  I may not have a family to cook for every night or some grand display of my hosting and hospitality skills, but last night I offered to cook a whole dinner for my roommate and I after her 12-hour workday like it wasn’t even no thing.  This is coming from the girl who started hyperventilating in a Walmart just a few months ago when I was assigned responsibility of preparing one side dish for a few friends that my roommate and I were having over for dinner.  I also bring two dishes to the church potluck every month, and most of the time I don’t even have to think about what I’m going to make until the day of.  That’s what I call serious culinary progress, people.  And as far as community goes?  Even though I doubt and question and forget it often, the Lord has provided rich, sweet community for me here in Arkansas.  People who have seen me cry when His plans haven’t matched up with my own, and rejoiced with me when they’ve been so, so much better.  And I’ve spent the last three weekends with people who love Jesus and swing-dancing, a combination that is unbeatable in my book.

Maybe you needed a Vienna message today, too?  Just in case, here’s what I’ve been hearing from God in the lines of a Billy Joel song:


Slow down, My crazy, beloved child.  You’re so ambitious because I’ve made you for so many good things – but I don’t ever want you to choose ambition over affection.  Your faithfulness to abide in My love for you is far more important than anything you could ever do for Me.  And remember, perfect love casts out fear.  You don’t need to be afraid, darling.  You don’t need to hustle for your worth, because your value, your belovedness, is secure in Me.  I know there’s so much you want to do with your short life, but don’t forget that your times are in My hands.  In fact, I hold eternity in my very palms, and I never run out of time for the things that I have purposed for you to do.  So slow down, child, and don’t forget to remind your soul that true satisfaction is found only in Me.  Slow down, My child.  When will you realize that I’ve been here waiting for you and with you, and that everything you’re really waiting for has been yours all along?


with love and wanderlust,

2 thoughts on “slow down, you crazy child”

  1. Wonderful!

    I know that my big struggle too is to “be a good steward of my time”. I know that it is the only resource that we cannot regain once spent and it terrifies me at times. But I am trying not to live in a spirit of lack.

    Wonderful message you left. Thank you for sharing! You can do it and you deserve and NEED the down times. They are not times that nothing is happening. They are times when the most important things are happening!

    1. Thank you so much!! Girl, I feel like you hit the nail on the head in trying not to live in a spirit of lack. I am tempted by that in so many areas of my life, but we know that is not our inheritance as children of God! I’m trying to remind myself to live like I believe that because of Jesus, I have “immeasurably more.” Thank you for the encouragement and for sharing our common struggle with this fear of somehow not stewarding our time well.

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