Behind the Song: What Love Really Means

love[Reposted from “NewReleaseTuesday, by Kevin Davis”]

The first thing you notice about JJ Heller is a wide grin that stretches across her face and welcomes you in as a friend, whether you’ve known her for years or are shaking her hand for the very first time. These days especially, the twenty-nine year old west coast native has a lot to be happy about.
“We’re definitely two halves of a whole,” she explains. “I write the bulk of the lyrics and Dave is the editor and arranger, making the songs more effective. He also does everything on the business side, which is great because it frees me up to be creative.”

In writing material for the new release, JJ poured her every day observations into her songbook: stories she heard while traveling, and those nearer to her heart.

“This album is all about redemption,” observes JJ. “Looking back on the songs, there’s a lot of struggle written into them because that’s life. Everyone has different problems to face, but in the end, the outcome hinges on how you deal with those struggles– if you allow them to destroy you or make you stronger.”

A song that will stop you in your tracks is the first single “What Love Really Means.” I have been married for 16 years and have 3 young daughters and everyone can really relate to the sincerity and sensitivity of this amazing song. The song addresses the broken cry of all of us, especially women who struggle with finding their true identity in Christ. All believers know that Christ is the only answer to the question in the extremely moving chorus “Who will love me for me?, Not for what I have done or what I will become, Who will love me for me?, ‘Cause nobody has shown me what love, what love really means.”

Perhaps it’s her insight and sensitivity that consistently draw a female audience to JJ’s music. She touches on issues of self-image and worry, questions of faith, and feelings of loneliness; her songs resonate with women and offer encouragement.

“For some reason, Christians, including myself, think that if they are following the Lord and doing the best they can, that life will be easy, and it’s not. That’s where grace comes in, and that’s where we grow. We have the choice to live in fear, or to live in the hope that God is in every moment with us. That’s one of the major themes of this season in my life.”

I got the opportunity to interview JJ and her husband David Heller about “What Love Really Means,” the current single from her brand new album When I’m With You. This is what they shared with me.

Please share the background that led you to write the song “What Love Really Means.”

This song is unique in the sense that I had no idea what I was going to write about when I started writing this song. The first line came out of my mouth “He cries in the corner where nobody sees” and I was disappointed because it sounded like another sad song and I didn’t want to write another sad song. Then the rest of the song flowed out onto the page. The song took about 30-45 minutes to write. Normally it takes me days or weeks to write a song but this was completely different. I think God was moving through the song. It didn’t have much to do with me. I don’t really know where the song came from, it kind of wrote itself. It’s been really amazing to see how God has used the song over the years. I wrote the song 5 years ago and originally called it “Love Me.” This song more than any other song has really connected with our listeners. God has used it in ways we didn’t know were possible. We heard someone with an eating disorder used it as her theme song. We’ve heard people in prison ministries and halfway houses have used the song. At the same time, we sing the song at every performance we’ve ever done in the last 5 years.

Please tell me about the Bible verses you used in writing the song?

Psalm 139:17-18How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand; When I awake, I am still with You.

How can listeners apply that message when they listen to the song?

The Lord knit us together when we were still in the womb. God loves us despite what we do. Even when we sin against Him, He loves us because He made us. We as performers don’t have the time to hear every story of our listeners. We know we would hear stories of great joy and stories of great pain. In spite of that, God is present and expressing His love to us through our joy and our pain. That’s why we think the song connects to people, because it speaks to everyone. I am a perfectionist and I want to be the best at everything. I am disappointed in myself when I fail. Everybody has a little bit of that in themselves. We want to be faithful. We feel like failures. None of that matters to God. He loves us the way that we are. We are loved because we are God’s children. It helps me to rest and stop striving. It helps me be okay with who God wants me to be and that my identity is in Him.

Here are the lyrics:

He cries in the corner where nobody sees
He’s the kid with the story no one would believe
He prays every night, “Dear God won’t You please
Could You send someone here who will love me?”

Who will love me for me
Not for what I have done or what I will become
Who will love me for me
‘Cause nobody has shown me what love
What love really means

Her office is shrinking a little each day
She’s the woman whose husband has run away
She’ll go to the gym after working today
Maybe if she was thinner
Then he would’ve stayed
And she says…

Who will love me for me?
Not for what I have done or what I will become
Who will love me for me?
‘Cause nobody has shown me what love, what love really means

He’s waiting to die as he sits all alone
He’s a man in a cell who regrets what he’s done
He utters a cry from the depths of his soul
“Oh Lord, forgive me, I want to go home”

Then he heard a voice somewhere deep inside
And it said “I know you’ve murdered and I know you’ve lied
I have watched you suffer all of your life
And now that you’ll listen, I’ll tell you that I…”

I will love you for you
Not for what you have done or what you will become
I will love you for you
I will give you the love
The love that you never knew

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About Bonita Jewel

Bonita Jewel is an author and blogger who writes on a variety of themes, including: Literature & poetry https://danielandbonita.wordpress.com Writing https://awordfitlywritten.wordpress.com Parenting https://positiveparentingblog.wordpress.com Purpose https://apurposedlife.wordpress.com After living in India from the age of 16 to 28, she returned to California with her husband and three children. She is pursuing a Degree at Fresno State University. Bonita teaches community education at Clovis Adult. Her courses include Blogging Basics, Power Editing, Creative Writing, and Working from Home. She also freelances as an editor, ghostwriter, and writing coach. Her greatest passions are her family, her faith, writing, and reading. Bonita Jewel has been reading since she was 2 ½. Thirty years later, she still loves the magic and mystery of the written word. She is slowly breathing life into roughly 50 novels and nearly as many nonfiction works, depending on which plot or character seizes her interest at any given time. Please connect with Bonita at: https://www.facebook.com/BonitaJewelAuthor
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