- Grove City, Pennsylvania


January 5, 2011

Ex-pastor, budding life coach: Resolutions are ‘waste of time’

SLIPPERY ROCK — A burgeoning life coach from Slippery Rock looks at a New Year’s resolution as a waste of time “unless it’s something feasible.”

“It has to be something that’s in your heart,” said Linda Porter. “If it’s not in your heart, you’re not going to do it.”

For example, in wanting a new car, “you’ll do everything you can to save,” she noted. “It’s how deep your conviction is and how badly you want something.”

In most things, people will come up against some type of opposition when they set their minds to do it.

“You’ll have things come against you and pull the rug out from under you, but it takes perseverance, one step forward, one step at a time,” Porter said.

“It always helps to have good, strong friends with the same mindset as you.”

Porter bases her ideas on her faith.

She was formerly a local pastor in the United Methodist Church for 12 years.

When a pastor, she took short-term mission trips to Russia’s Arctic Circle, then headed a soup kitchen for the homeless in the Ukraine for three years.

Returning to be with her family in Grove City, she retired after working in a nursing home for a short time.

This fall, Porter began studying to be a certified life coach through Grove City Alliance Church, Pine Township, where she attends, because of her recent work with Reaching Up and Reaching Out, a local ministry that helps people get back on their feet after a crisis or being incarcerated.

“I have friends who call me up and say, ‘I’m having a real hard time in my prayer life. I don’t know what to do,’” she said.

“It’s simple--just have a conversation with God. You don’t need to buy a half-dozen books or be a scholar. You just have to talk. I think sometimes we make things too complicated. It’s all about setting aside time for your best friend. It’s a very simple thing.”

Even for non-religious things, that concept “applies to absolutely everything,” she added. “In mostly anything you want to do, it’s a common sense thing.”

For instance, if someone wants to paint their entire house in 2011 “and you have a 15-room house, you say, ‘OK, I’m going to start this week with the den,” she said. “Bring it down to one simple thing at a time. If the den is too much, start with one wall. Complete that task and move on.”

Anxiety can also come in when someone underestimates the goal at hand.

“It wipes us out, and we panic and say, ‘I can’t get it done,’” Porter said.

“You can’t put a time limit on it. We have to be flexible and not allow the ‘overwhelmingness’ to blow us out of the water.”

In dealing with guilt, Porter looks at her situation from a Christian perspective.

“Guilt comes from Satan and conviction comes from God. Is this something Satan is trying to do to pull me away from God, or something God is using to put me close to him?” she said.

“If I feel guilty about something, I ask God about it. If it’s from God, the bad feelings go away (and you will feel a conviction to change). God doesn’t want you to feel bad about yourself.”

Porter was not a Christian for the first 39 years of her life. Now she is 63.

Before she became a Christian, “it was a total disaster, a mess,” she said, having struggled with alcohol and tobacco addictions.

Now, before embarking on anything, Porter always prays to ask God to lead her, and “the peace in my spirit is beyond words,” she said.

“I see this in working with other people. People without a spiritual basis, many times their life is out of control and they don’t know how to bring it in control.”

This can even be a problem with people who go to church, because there is no true relationship with God.

“You look in churches and see people with turmoil every day,” she said.

To her, the relationship is like a good marriage, where couples even fight, but they never leave one another because “a heart bonding keeps you in that relationship,” Porter said.

“People of faith know God is with them. It’s OK to yell at God. God accepts that because you’re still in communication with him.”

Faith as a foundation brings a calm to life and crisis is weathered “a whole lot better,” she added.

Porter encourages people that they do not have to live a long faith-life in order to receive instant peace.

Faith is the realization that “I can’t do this on my own, and your heart cries out, ‘help me, God,’” she said.

“The peace comes in immediately.”

As a person’s faith walk continues, the peace grows deeper.

“No matter what happens in my life, I can go to sleep and trust that God wants the best for me,” Porter said.

It’s a matter of trust, which is something God gauges from the desire of a person’s heart, not from their words, Porter said.

It’s a struggle when people want control over their own lives, Christian or non-Christian, but “the greatest thing about God is he knows and sees and acts on the heart,” she noted.

“People who don’t want a relationship with Jesus are rejecting help, but as long as we’re alive, there’s always hope, and God is always available.”

It would seem Porter has mastered her own faith.

However, her resolution for the new year is “becoming strong in my faith,” she said, through more study of the Bible, prayer and drawing closer to Jesus.

“We’re going into a new year and everyone is making resolutions. I don’t know the future. I just know the one who holds the future,” she said.

“That gets me through every day.”

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