LVC and Love- A guest post by Tamara Siburg

That's Tamara in the middle, with our brother Thomas on the right, and me on the left.
That’s Tamara in the middle, with our brother Thomas on the right, and me on the left.

I would like to introduce someone very special to you all, my sister Tamara Siburg. I asked Tamara recently to share some thoughts and perspectives about her year serving in Lutheran Volunteer Corps.  I will allow her to introduce herself more below, but would like to add that I thought it would be a great post on this blog if she shared thoughts about her time in LVC, as well as how it relates to or informs her sense of her love of the neighbor and leadership.  Tamara, thanks for writing and sharing, and I hope you all enjoy her story!

To start off, I am Tamara, Timothy’s little sister. Maybe Timothy has mentioned me before but I wouldn’t know because I don’t like lots of words so I rarely read his blog. (Editor’s note- I still love my sister, even with this honest admission. 🙂 ) I graduated from Pacific Lutheran University (PLU) with a BA in Psychology last May (2013) and have been in Wilmington, Delaware since the end of August working at Hilltop Lutheran Neighborhood Center as their school-aged Education Coordinator through Lutheran Volunteer Corps (LVC). Through this role I help serve and supervise upwards of 40 kids a day during the school year (and around 70 kids during Summer Camp). I am privileged enough to be able to have this year of experience which I have been able to use to help give myself a clearer direction of where I want to go in life. But then again, ideas and futures are changeable so I can’t for sure say where I will be in 5 years.

Timothy gave me a few suggestions of what to touch on, so here is my response to some of his suggestions. He asked me to touch on how LVC has shaped or been an extension of the way I serve and love others. First off, I have grown to realize that serving and loving others are not two different things, at least in my own opinion. I feel like love is an action. To love anything (yourself, family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, those you work for, strangers, animals, plants, and the earth) you must provide (a) service(s) in order to make the action of love tangible.   I feel like most people would like to say that they are non-judgmental and love/serve those around them. I, of course, am one of those who would like to say that I love/like to serve others and do what I can to make others happy.

I have learned through this year that having enough love for everything/everybody around you is quite difficult, especially in this society where we have been socialized to be successful individuals while disregarding or just not thinking about those we pass to get there. Now that doesn’t sound like a loving thing to do! This idea of having love for everyone you come into contact with is hard when there are people who are just hard to love because of the way they treat others and/or yourself.

Tamara at the Neighborhood Center. (Photo Courtesy of Thomas Siburg)
Tamara at Hilltop. (Photo Courtesy of Thomas Siburg)

There is one person this year who I have had a struggle with. I have struggled with this individual because I can’t stand the way he treats others lower than him and also there seems to be a slight ego problem so it can be hard to work with.  I used to talk in my head to get my frustrations regarding him out but now I have decided to take the approach of doing what he asks to the best of my ability and always saying thank you when he gives me a directive or lets me know about a meeting (even if that meeting is taking place within the next hour and then causes me to stay longer then I should for the day, which is frustrating).  I can’t say for sure if our relationship has improved since my constant thank you’s but at least it feels better and he always seems a little surprised after I say thank you.  It makes me laugh (on the inside) a little (maybe it isn’t an action of love to laugh at someone but I have to say it is hard not to during certain situations).  These interactions have also helped me to realize that the love of whatever all powerful essence anyone believes in is incomprehensible to the imperfect person, in other words, everyone.

Through this year of service, I and the other volunteers are Love. We are fulfilling the action of love towards those in the neighborhoods we are living/working in. I have learned that these actions can have a profound impact on not just those who we are working directly with, but ourselves. Love can be very tiring and also rejuvenating. I know I am often tired after long days with my kids. I have found that when I get home I need some time to re-energize, which can be seen as a way of loving myself. Depending on the day the way in which I am able to re-energize myself can be as simple as watching some of my favorite TV shows, listening to music, and hanging out with friends, to as constructive as teaching myself to play the ukulele and mandolin, reading/listening to thought provoking articles, and doing some coloring (big kids can still love coloring books!).

Tamara is in the center of this picture of our family.
Tamara is in the center of this picture of our family.

I guess to answer the question that Timothy asked about, how has LVC been an extension or shaped the way I love others, I would have to say I don’t think it has really changed who I am but instead has given me the platform in which I am able to better show and express love. I know I wouldn’t have been able to express my love in such a way or be the person I am today if it wasn’t for all the hundreds of people who have touched my life with their own love.  If it wasn’t for everyone else modeling what love looks like showing me how to best love others through my service I would not be the loving, caring, empathetic, listening person I am today. That is one thing I try to constantly remind myself, I never know how far my love will go because of the fact that what I do might have a great impact on others causing them to then show their love towards others and start a chain reaction.

I would like to end with a quote that I came across while at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical site in Atlanta. This quote reflects aspects of the life LVC wishes to embark to its volunteers who are working together in the pursuit of social justice:

“Power at its best is LOVE implementing the demands of justice. Justice at its best is LOVE correcting everything that stands against LOVE.”  – Unknown 

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