A transgender Catholic has written an Advent reflection on the experience of waiting and surprise when it comes to his journey of sexuality and gender.
Maxwell Kuzma, a trans Catholic from Ohio, wrote about the connections between his personal journey and the Advent season in the National Catholic Reporter.
Kuzma opened by writing that “uncertainty and waiting” were defining features of being a young LGBTQ Catholic. His experiences of sexuality and then gender were different than those of his peers meaning “the fullness of my identity could not be discussed with the people I was supposed to be able to confide in on my faith journey.” This adolescent period also included discomfort with his body, and waiting, as he had been told, to outgrow it as most teenagers do.
Kuzma retained his faith in this period, and was an active member at his parish. Yet, he writes, “my faith journey was going through similar growing pains” and “outside Mass, I felt a growing chasm between myself and other Catholics.” He continues:
“I heard puberty described as a beautiful and messy natural transformation that would involve awkward moments and feelings, but would ultimately end in a kind of inner peace and harmony — an ‘aha’ moment where everything clicked into place. But as my body changed, it became increasingly foreign to me as time went on. I struggled to make meaning out of the discomfort of my daily life. It was hard for me to connect with other Catholics who didn’t seem to share the uneasy relationship I had between body and spirit.”
Kuzma poured himself into his work in video production for Catholic groups, investing entirely in career advancement and still “waiting for God to make everything work out.” This path only led to burn out and forced a time of necessary reflection and rest, prompting Kuzma to ask where God was in his life, specifically his inner life which had been neglected in favor of work. This time off led to an opening:
“Time passed, and I began to heal. I allowed myself to consider the frightening questions of sexual and gender identity. I met elders in the LGBTQ community — many were people of faith — who in their quiet and steadfast way showed me what it was like to hold apparent contradictions. My prayer life changed. Seeing LGBTQ people of faith being true to both themselves and God, I realized there might be a path forward for me. This type of embodiment was unlike anything I had allowed myself to consider.
“As I wrapped my head around this possibility, I felt God close to me in a way I never had before. It wasn’t a huge billboard; it wasn’t a performative gesture; it was a new intimacy with myself that allowed me to understand the Scripture ‘love your neighbor as you love yourself’ for the first time because I was finally able to love the parts of myself that weren’t cisgender or heterosexual. The way that I finally learned to love myself was unexpected — just as unexpected as the king of the universe arriving in a messy, dirty stable. There wasn’t an easy answer, and the loose ends weren’t instantly tied up, but the world slowly got brighter. Life started to get easier.”
Kuzma concludes his reflection by noting that, as he lived more authentically, so, too, was he able to appreciate life. And, he closes:
“I began to understand that during those painful times when God felt so distant, he was actually there the entire time, waiting for me to recognize the love he had poured out on me, waiting for me to receive that love in my body as well as my soul.”
—Robert Shine (he/him), New Ways Ministry, December 23, 2022