BY MARSHA DUCILLE
While combing through a pile of work on my desk, I turned on Amy Grant’s new album, How Mercy Looks from Here. I was trying to prepare for the six-time Grammy Award winner’s interview, while juggling a few other matters on a very hectic day. But one song made me freeze. – I stopped, leaned on my desk, closed my eyes, and listened to “Don’t Try So Hard.” The chorus was soothing:
The consoling song, sung by Amy Grant and James Taylor, cut to the core of human nature. We often think that we need to prove ourselves “worthy,” because society has conditioned us to earn our way through life. We earn degrees, we earn money, we earn respect ... and, at certain points, we assume that we need to earn love. But Amy’s new album offered a comforting reminder: God’s love is free. There’s nothing we can do to earn it, and Christ’s blood (despite our gravest mistakes) made us worth it.
During my chat with Amy (whose remarkable career included over 30 million records sold, and a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame), I found myself admiring how comfortable she was in her skin. I got the impression that – through the ups and downs of life – she settled into a place of contentment that only God could provide. At moments during our conversation, it sounded like her voice cracked. I’m not entirely sure (maybe something got stuck in her throat – who knows?), but it appeared that she was getting a bit choked up when we spoke about her family, tough life lessons, and how God’s mercy looked at difficult seasons in her life. But even if Amy didn’t get choked up, I did.
After I finished Amy’s interview, I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and softly sang my favorite line from her album:
You’re lovely even with your scars. Don’t try so hard.
Marsha DuCille: What is the driving message behind your new album?
Amy Grant: This album is about God’s love and mercy. The title song (“How Mercy Looks from Here”) came from a crazy week and a half in my life. It was a week of highs and lows. During that time, our oldest child got married. It was fantastic – absolutely unbelievable. Then, during that same period, my cousin (Adam) was killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan, and Nashville was hit by a flood. As if that wasn’t enough, a dear friend of mine (who I’ve written quite a few songs with, and toured with for decades) took his life. Talk about a pendulum swinging hard and wide! But God’s mercy was in every one of those situations. Also, after I wrote the song “How Mercy Looks from Here,” my sister was diagnosed with cancer. When I had no more tears left to cry, I said, “We’re going to find out how mercy looks from the cancer board.” And God’s mercy was there. My sister is now cancer-free! – God’s love and mercy is the message behind this album. When we hand over life’s difficulties to God, and genuinely trust in His unconditional love for us, His mercy will appear.