Look, I’m Jewish. I have no identity problems. I’m not self-loathing (at least not for my religious preferences). I was raised Conservative with one set of Orthodox grandparents. We keep kosher, fervently observe all Jewish holidays and celebrate Shabbat every week.
But I have to confess something. I find tremendous comfort in Christian rock music. Whenever I say that out loud, my Jewish friends, family and colleagues are shocked and dismayed. “You’re kidding, right?” is the most frequent response I encounter. But it’s the truth and I’m not afraid to say it.
Sure, there are plenty of songs to which I don’t relate. I check out at the explicit Jesus references and any talk about “our father who died for our sins.” But most of it is completely aligned with our own Jewish spiritual philosophy. Songs about “hanging on,” “believing,” “never giving up,” I can’t see those as heretical or anti-Jewish in any way.
My affinity for Christian music bothers my family – a lot. I try to play it in the car sometimes when I’m shuffling the kids to and from clubs, appointments and Hebrew school. I think the positive, uplifting messages will seep into their subconscious and improve long-term coping skills as they inevitably meet with obstacles and disappointments in life. That’s all well and good until an unsuspected reference to our savior and king surfaces. Then the jig is up. “Mom, will you stop with the Christian music. It’s just weird, OK?”
Then they inevitably remind me of my 2007 trip to Sedona when they were seven and almost four. It was New Year’s Eve and I was driving with the boys to meet some friends for the holiday. It was cold and snowy but I had plenty of daylight and I knew it was a relatively short trip. Of course, once it started to get dark, I realized I’d been driving for over three hours and that I might have made a bum turn or taken a wrong exit.
When I finally found a safe spot to pull over, I was slightly hysterical and began sobbing into the steering wheel. As we sat there in the cold car somewhere on the side of a road, me weeping and the boys growing ever more anxious, there was a sudden tapping on my window. I looked up and saw the kindly countenance of a woman motioning to me to roll down the window. I did so and she asked me if I was okay. I admitted between whimpers that I was not. “I’m trying to get to Sedona,” I sniffled. “But we’re lost, and I have no idea where we are.”
She took my hands into hers and said, “May I pray to Jesus with you?” My boys watched with wide eyes as I emphatically said, “Yes!” Then she offered up a prayer to the big guy, asking for him to help us find our way and to protect us on our journey. She pointed me towards a neighboring town which I later learned was Strawberry and with renewed hope and vitality I set out to find our path to salvation.
I was able to get us turned around and back on the road and managed to successfully make it to our cabin in the woods, just slightly late for dinner. But the more people I told about my redemption tale, the more I was met with uncertain stares and stifled laughter. “What?” I asked friends and family, who I could tell were holding themselves back from full-throttled chortling at my experience. “I got where I needed to go. That’s all I’m sayin’.”
As we move ever closer to the holiday season this year, I encourage all to count blessings, believe in miracles and stay open to inspiration, from wherever it may come.
Debra Rich Gettleman is a mother, blogger, actor and playwright. For more of her work,