YS Interviews Ginny Owens

YS_Interview_Feb17

In Love Be The Loudest (2016), her ninth studio release, Ginny Owens throws off expectations, and with renewed faith, inspires her fans to seek God’s voice above all others. “Most people think my greatest life challenge is blindness; I’ve been blind since age three. But that simply isn’t true,” says Owens. “My greatest challenge is doing battle with the critical voices in my head that distract me from what’s most important.” Owens shares her story with us, and how YS readers can find ultimate love in today’s ever-hurried society.

PM: How has being blind influenced your life and your Christianity?

GO: I had a little bit of eyesight when I was born. It was a hereditary condition from my dad’s side of the family. At age three, I had a surgery that could either have restored some of my sight or it would take it all away; and so that was actually the way it went.

In a wonderful way, my parents insisted I have a normal life. They let me climb trees and ride bikes and do all the things the neighborhood kids did. But when I got to school, I realized the challenge of being blind was not necessarily being blind, it was not belonging. It was not being accepted or acceptable in the eyes of others. A lot of my life was trying to find my value and worth; it was having a lot of insecurities of not belonging and trying so hard to overcompensate for that. In recent years, God has really worked on my heart. He has taught me that, for all of us, it’s really the broken parts of our story, not the well-put-together parts, that can bring the most change in our lives and the most glory to Him.

That can impact others as well. When others look into our stories and see our brokenness, or see how God’s working to make our challenges into something for His glory, it’s there that people praise God. It took me a really long time to understand that—that it was really so much about God’s strength being more evident in my weakness than anywhere else. I believe that’s for all of us.

PM: Amen! Can you talk to us about Love Be The Loudest? The lyrics are so powerful: “love be the loudest / love the way You love me.” They relate to accepting God’s love despite what we may go through. What inspired the lyrics for that song?

GO: A couple things. On one hand, we live in a culture full of loud: loud voices of noise about who we should be, what we should think, how we should vote, and what should define us. Part of this cry of the song is that love has to be the loudest. Specifically, God’s voice of love has to be the loudest voice that we hear because that’s the only way we will keep sane. That’s the only way we will grow in wisdom and faith.

The other part is, one of the things I often find myself dealing with is the voices in my head. These are not only voices of our culture, but voices of doubt, of insecurity. Maybe for me it’s also the overheard voices of other people saying, “Oh, that poor girl. How does she get anything done every day?” People feel like they’re being sympathetic and say things that make you just go, “Ah, I didn’t want to hear that.” I know that as long as we are on this planet, the negative voices don’t go away completely.

Our prayer has to be, especially as followers of Christ, that God’s love would be the loudest, that His voice of love and truth would overtake and overshadow all the other voices. This is the only way to make that happen: to go and find His voice, to listen to it, to sit with Him and talk to Him in prayer and read what He has said for thousands of years. That’s how we learn His voice. I believe He speaks to us and moves in our spirits, but I also know we have to receive that voice so we can hear it.

PM: How did your love of music begin and how did you get into song writing?

GO: I’ve always loved music. My mom says I would jump in her womb when I was a baby every time there was music around.

There’s a story my parents tell about me standing on the church pew at two years–old, directing the Hallelujah chorus, and telling the choir they were not singing it right. I was going to show them how to sing it better.

That’s terribly embarrassing and I’ll never do that again! But I’ve always loved music and I was very influenced by all kinds of music growing up. My mom had a lot of old albums, like Karen Carpenter and different things like that. I grew up in Jackson, Mississippi so there was a lot of gospel, R&B, and blues influences in my life from elementary through high school. I learned that for a song to be great it needed to have an element of soul, and that the best songs have a simple way of stating profound truth.

I’ve been influenced by everybody from Amy Grant to Carole King to Stevie Wonder to John Mayer to so many more. I started songwriting when I was seven. I remember my first song was about taking a bath and Jesus cleansing my soul. Somehow I paralleled all that together.

God knew that He had to start me early because He knew it would take a while for me to actually learn how to write. It was fun, and song writing was my way of journaling. It was my way of sitting down and talking to God and processing my life. I would do that through lyrics and melody at the piano.

PM: Did you write the songs on your album, Love Be The Loudest?

GO: Yes.

PM: How did the lyrics and music come to you?

GO: I had co-writers on a lot of songs on this record, which is very fun. Usually the melody’s the easier part. It’s really getting the lyrics to say something. Especially the more simple and pop, the more sing-able a melody is, the harder it is to write lyrics for it. There are so many pop songs that don’t have much to say because it’s hard to fit meaningful lyrics in the simple melodies.

I love pop music. When I’m working out I’ll listen to a bit of Apple Music or Spotify and their what’s new playlist. I love hearing that, and yet, there’s a point at which I have to stop because what those songs say, and having a steady diet of that, is not great for my brain or heart. I really wanted to write a record that feels pop in the sense of it has sing-able, simple melodies and rhythms, and has some of the fun sounds I’m hearing in pop songs right now, but it also has lyrics that say something and lead people to a place. I hope we did that, but definitely it was a labor of love. It always takes the longest to get lyrics where you want them, or at least for me it does.

PM: Do you have a word of encouragement for our readers, from your Christian experience, as they walk in love?

GO: In our fast-paced culture, the most challenging part of being believers is really learning what God’s love is, what it means to us, and what it looks like in our lives, because we’re always moving. We’re always taking in information and processing it. To have an idea of what God’s love looks like, we have to sit still and search it out and rest in Him. That is something that’s hard for us to do. But when we do it, when we take a small step in that direction, He absolutely runs to meet us and wants to take us there. He wants us to know about His love. He wants to share with us all about who He is and that His love has the power to change our lives. It also has the power to sustain us when we’re tinted by things we know aren’t good ideas. When we’re tempted by earthly love, He’s waiting there to say, “My love really is enough for every moment of your life, for every situation.”

The important thing I keep learning is to go to God alone. Our culture may often represent love as this shallow, sweet, sappy thing where it’s like, oh you just love people. You have a warm feeling toward, or at least tolerate, people. You’re cool with whatever it is that they’re okay with. It’s an “If you’re okay, I’m okay” kind of thing. That’s not love at all. Love is giving when it hurts and love is saying something to a friend that might be hard for them to hear, because you care enough to help them walk in a great way. Love is giving behind-the-scenes when nobody’s seeing you. Doing something kind and generous even if no one’s there to say, “Hey, great job.”

Love, I think, in God’s economy looks a whole lot different than it does in our world. I encourage all of our hearts, all of us to go and seek out the love of God, and to know that even as we start to ask Him to show us His love, that He will be quick and eager to do that.

Captain Pamela Maynor, Editor