"Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God." -Romans 15:7

One of the biggest struggles I have seen and heard of for those transitioning from life in college to the "real world" is finding community. Belonging is something we all strive for and desire, and it usually it isn't easy. Work, travel, new living arrangements, different cities, stress, families, and so much more can quickly become an impedance to our ability to feeling like we belong. I was blessed with my community while at UNC, but now I'm gone too.

I am thankful to say that this has not been the case for me right after leaving my community at UNC. Moving to Raleigh and embarking on the Fellows Program has been the most welcoming experience. Church staff and members, host families, mentors, employers, community members, teachers, and other fellows have all welcomed me with open arms. They have opened up their homes, refrigerators, schedules, wallets, wisdom, and themselves. Belonging was the first of many gifts within the first month of being in Raleigh.

However, I want to unpack it a little further. The Romans verse above has stuck with me over the past 3 years. For most of that time I really looked at it in a sense of a "welcoming" atmosphere to those around me, those in my house, and those I encountered in daily interactions. But lately, I've been sitting on more and more aspects of how "Christ has welcomed" all of us. Christ welcomes us into every part of his life; his living and his dying, his creating and his redeeming, his sitting and his walking, his speaking and his listening, his power and his humility, his freedom and his obedience, and also his love. I am all the more thankful that these relationships that have already been built during my first month as a Fellow have given me a taste of this kind of welcoming. My hope and my confidence is that I will imitate this manner more and more each day.

And so I say "welcome" to these next 8 months specifically. Welcome to the fun, the laughs, the nicknames, movie and game nights, Round Table, Church of the Apostles, Neighbor to Neighbor, all the classes (and reading and papers), the Curlin's/Batchelder's, Knott & Boyle PLLC, Brad McGinity, Sam & Ashley Crutchfield, Sunday nights at The Deal, the Raleigh Fellows Committee and community, hard conversations, tiredness, Raleigh traffic, long days after F3, and everything else in store for me. 

"Welcome, to the real world."

-Taylor Irvin