When Sunday religion hurts you, make soup

Be not afraid. God loves you and wants us to love one another as He loves us...He loves us with an infinitely faithful love. --Bl. Mother Teresa

For me, Sundays feel like land-mine days. Somedays I manage to pick my way around the bombs, other days--I am blown apart.

In the morning, we attend a Presbyterian church where I learn about God's conditional love and how He loves me "in spite of who I am"--the actual words we were supposed to recite aloud this morning. I remained silent.

In the evening, I attend Mass where I experience God's unconditional love, the love of an ever-pursuing God, a God who loves me with--as Mother Teresa wrote--with an "infinite faithfulness."

In the middle of these days, I try to knit my family together through a simple ritual I have come to call "Sabbath Day of Soup." It is my meager attempt to make peace, to be an instrument of reconciliation, to try and mend the splintered Christianity within my own family.

I serve soup and hope they can taste love in each spoonful. Did they see the fear and pain in my eyes this morning at church when we were taught (yet again) that God's love is conditional? Do they know how this wounds me afresh every time?

How do I tell my children that I've been having flashbacks? It's been awhile since I had a traumatic flashback, but my memory was triggered this past week.....

I am standing up crying in a crib. It is pitch black. I scream and scream but nobody comes. I am scared. The door opens, light from the kitchen floods in all orange. Mama picks me up. She didn't hear me crying because she was at a prayer meeting in the building next door.

This is the one, lingering impression from my childhood: I am left behind so my parents can "serve the Lord" and/or attend meetings. I am left in the care of many babysitters--some of whom abuse me--I am left in cribs, left at summer camps, left in dark rooms to "cry it out," I am taught that unless I live a life pleasing to God, I might get left behind at the Rapture.

And now we attend a church where we are told that God's love is conditional. His love might leave us, too.

I don't know how to make sense of this.

I am only just coming to the place where I scarcely dare believe in God's unconditional love. Each Sunday, it's as if I'm torn apart in the morning and healed up in the evening.

So, I make soup. It is my single, solitary non-violent act of defiance against authoritarian religion and the soul-scarring pain I still carry each day.

I make soup to remember nourishment, to remember peace, to remember I am worthy of love.

I ladle soup for my children and pray it shows them they are worthy of love, too.

I ladle soup and know we all carry pain. This is me trying to take my Sunday pain and make something beautiful and nourishing from it. This is me trying to make peace.