MD: Is the song “Don’t Try So Hard” personal? Does it reflect a personal struggle in your life?
AG: It absolutely does! It is very personal. That song is my story. It’s your story. It’s everyone’s story. We all feel that we need to earn our “seat at the table.” But “Don’t Try So Hard” is a great reminder that we don’t have to earn God’s love. At first, I assumed the song was for women. As a woman, I thought about the struggles and insecurities that we face in our relationships with people – and the ones that we carry into our relationship with God. But a male friend of mine called after he listened to “Don’t Try So Hard.” He said to me, “I wailed for ten minutes. I had to close the door to my office.” After that call, I realized that everyone feels that way – women, men, all of us.
MD: Phrases like God’s grace, God’s mercy, and God’s love have become buzz phrases. They are heavily used in Christian circles, yet very few people know what they mean. How would you explain God’s love?
AG: One of my children went through a wild stage, and we even went to juvenile court. During all of that craziness, I spoke to a friend who asked me, “Are you happy with that child’s choices?” I said, “No.” Then she asked, “Are you happy with that child’s circle of friends?” I responded, “Absolutely not.” Then she said, “Do you still love that child?” And I answered, “I would give my life for that child.” Then she responded, “That’s how God feels about every single one of us.” I had that conversation with my friend several years ago, but I’ll never forget it. It gave me a new appreciation for God’s love. I remember thinking, “I have to put this in a song.” And, with this new album, I finally did. Looking back on my life, I now understand that we bring various measuring sticks into our relationship with God – Am I talented enough? Am I successful enough? Am I good enough? – Every one of us has asked at least one of these questions. But God’s love is not based on who we are, or what we accomplish. And it’s not about the things we’ve done right or wrong. God’s love is based on His goodness, not ours.