Hungry Hearts: Conversion a lifelong process for seekers

By Jimmy Patterson

   SAN ANGELO. The deeper we dig into our faith, the hungrier we become for an even greater knowledge and understanding of God. Such is the theory of Tom Zanzig (at right), keynote speaker at the annual Diocesan Conference Day, Feb. 3, at the San Angelo Convention Center. The conversion process, Zanzig said, is a lifelong process.
   “We can often forget who we are,” Zanzig said. “Conversion is a relearning of what God has taught us from early in our spiritual life.”
   Zanzig called our yearning for a deeper understanding a “hunger,” or “a recurring sense that no matter how fully we have said yes to God, no matter how good life is, there is always a sense that something’s missing. That hunger, he said, is often expressed through questions and doubt. Zanzig noted that some of history’s top spiritual authors and scholars have professed to experiencing that hunger most when they have come from or are currently in a particularly dark chapter in their lives.
   “Hunger,” the Wisconsin native said, “is God’s way of saying, ‘You’re doing great, but you can go even deeper.’ ”
   Zanzig worked through a graphic that showed the model conversion is cyclical in nature. Hunger leads to searching which leads to awakening which leads to our response to that awakening.
   Zanzig also outlined 10 principles for ministering to someone on a search, an outline that works well for young people seeking God. The 10 points to nurturing the seeker’s conversion include:
   1. Get in touch with the real hungers of those who seek; 2. Look for conversion on many levels, not just religious; 3. Help them name their operative hungers, then share what you see in them. 4. Explore ways they might search that are life giving and within reach; 5. Lift up, name and celebrate their awakenings; 6. Tell them stories related to their hungers, issues, needs;   7. Share your personal experiences as your own;  8. Encourage their response to their awakenings;  9. Pray for — and perhaps with — them, and 10. Give up illusions of power and control. Trust them.
   In concluding, Zanzig said, “The goal of Christian conversion is not simply that we follow Jesus as we might a guru. Rather it is the deep and profound transformation of who we are as people that involves four steps: inspiration, imitation, integration and identification.”
   JUST A MINUTE: Zanzig also recommended that in our busy days, perhaps the best way to pray is to block out prayer times 1 minute at a time, at points during the day that would nurture routine. “You can get a lot prayed about in just one minute,” he said, exhibiting just how much can be prayed about in a minute by observing several moments of quiet that were 60 seconds in length.


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