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Step in to Good Trouble- 19th Century Abolitionist Style

Updated: May 10, 2022

These seven steps to Good Trouble drawn from Laura Haviland’s life were inspired by my research into her autobiography, as well as life examples from Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglas, Levi Coffin, and of course from the principles and concepts found in the Bible and specifically the life of Christ. I have shared several stories with you from my book, Underground Angel- the life story of Laura Haviland. In this video I will review our Seven Steps to Good Trouble. These include the following: 1) Become a friend to someone totally different from you. 2) Seek to understand with compassion and care. 3) Respect the rights of everyone-including authorities. 4) Do not judge/Strip away labels & stereotypes. 5) Passionately promote non-violent change and action. 6) Seek out the truth not talking points. 7) Take a stand for forgiveness, sacrifice, and love even if you must break the law to do it.

I believe Mrs. Haviland exemplifies all seven of these steps. Laura became a friend to thousands of individuals who were totally different from herself. She listened to them with compassion and care, doing all she could to support them. She respected the rights of everyone- even authorities such as Colonel Buckner, the jailer in Louisville, KY who did his best to implicate her and find a reason to arrest her for abetting slaves to freedom. She looked past stereotypes and labels in her relationships, often dismayed to find that many people were willing to believe them rather than digging deeper. She believed it was important to seek out the truth rather than believe talking points. She was passionate about actively guiding slaves to freedom without the use of violence. Mrs. Haviland made several trips incognito into the Underground Railroad to discover the truth about slave holders and slavery. Step seven is the one that brings completion to all the other steps: forgiveness, sacrifice, and love. These are virtues that Mrs. Haviland personifies. As we act out of love, we often take for granted the risk and the sacrifice because love conquers fear.

The great love chapter in I Corinthians 13 of the Bible teaches us that “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. (I Corinthians 13:4-8a.)

As was shared in a previous video, Mrs. Haviland joined the Union Army as a nurse during the last year of the Civil War, 1864-1865. While she did some nursing, one of her primary roles became welcoming slaves into the Union Camp as freed men and women. She loved having the opportunity in serving their needs in whatever way she could. Laura found over time that her work was greatly appreciated as her role adapted into finding or making clothing for refugees and their children when they entered the camps. This was a role that Laura found rewarding. She loved to watch the children’s eyes sparkle when she fit them into their very own suit of clothes. One little girl squealed in surprise when she found a little rag doll in the pocket of her dress. There were close to a dozen other little girls in the room at the time and each found similar treasures searching their pockets. Laura recognized the dolls coming from sweet little girls back in Hudson, Michigan. She wished they could have seen these happy girls stepping on tiptoe with excitement. As these sweet comments were flying around the room, a staff officer entered the tent. Talking to the children and laughing through his tears, he asked in all seriousness, “Have you ever thought of the Savior’s words, ‘In as much as ye have done it unto the least of these, ye have done it unto me?’” Laura replied, “Indeed. That’s what brought me from my Michigan home.”

“Doesn’t this pay you,” he continued, “for coming all this distance, to see those sparkling eyes and light hearts dancing with joy?”

“Oh yes,” Laura replied, “It proves the words of Jesus true. ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

While it is true, we cannot all live up to Mrs. Haviland’s life of service to her fellow humans, her country, and her Lord, but we can all do something to better the world and the people in our lives who desperately need a touch of love. It is not something we do to be noticed or honored. Often, it is the quiet, kind words of comfort and emotional support for someone who needs that human touch of kindness that may go unnoticed. Throughout this series on Good Trouble, I have shared a few stories of those who have been sent on my path with a need that I have hoped to help. Unfortunately, I also know there were others that I have not been able to help. I believe and trust that the Lord provides for their needs. Each of us are called to serve others. Our service is not meant to be applauded or rewarded, given special accolades or awards. We do not want the “left hand to know what the right hand is doing” so that our giving may be in secret for great is our reward with our Father in Heaven (Matthew 6:3, 4). He is truly the only One who needs to know.

I hope this series has challenged to you to find ways to stir up some Good Trouble in your world and to make a positive difference.

Every person of faith who takes a stand for the values of Good Trouble will help usher God’s Kingdom on this earth. Honestly, we all live by faith if we are not afraid to get out of bed in the morning. We all put our faith in something. It is my prayer that each of you will experience the overwhelming grace and love of our God through Jesus Christ, His Son. Jesus said to His followers: “Do not let your heart be troubled, you believe in God, believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” John 14:1-3

Yes, believers are waiting for our Lord’s return; and it could be any day. However, until He comes for us, we are called to live out our faith in our communities in a format I call Good Trouble! In one of his final discourses before his crucifixion, Jesus said to his disciples: “I have told you these things that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But be of good cheer for I have overcome the world.” Until his return we are called to take seriously His mission on earth. In the Lord’s prayer, Jesus reminds us to live out and to pray, Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done. On earth as it is in Heaven!

I want to thank each of you for taking this journey of Good Trouble with me. If you have made it through the entire series, I would enjoy any comment that you would like to leave for me. Maybe we can stir up some “Good Trouble” discussions with those who pass our way whether it is online or in person.

Many blessings to each of you!

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