Scholar’s Compass Navigating Beginnings: Overcoming Fear and Anxiety

Image courtesy of Apolonia at

Image courtesy of Apolonia at

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and a sound mind. – 2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV)

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. – Isaiah 41:10 (NKJV)


Fall has always been my favorite time of the year. Crisp mornings, warm afternoons, jumping back into rhythms and routines after a summer filled with barbeques, family reunions, and time to just sit back and relax. It is full of excitement and back-to-school activities bringing crisp new school supplies and football games and all things pumpkin spice.

I remember well that fall when I started graduate school–the excitement, the anticipation of starting something new. Orientation activities and faculty seminars inviting students to something big, something interesting, something important. Starting classes, wondering “when are they going to discover that they’ve made a mistake–I’m really not as smart as they thought I was!” Struggling to balance new and ever increasing demands on my time and energy and oh yeah, I really should fit exercise and rest in here somewhere, right?

It felt great to finally make it to life as a postdoc, with newfound freedom, experience, and that first publication under my belt. I remember feeling excited, the anticipation of starting something new, something big, something important. Beginning life outside of school and classwork, struggling to balance new and ever increasing demands on my time and energy and oh yeah, I really should fit exercise and rest in here somewhere, right?

Now I am starting to imagine my first faculty position where I can invite students to something big, something interesting, something important. Wondering how I will keep myself afloat in all of the new and ever increasing demands on my time and energy and by the way, how do you find that elusive work-life balance everyone always talks about?

In the midst of these seasons, I love how 2 Timothy 1:7 and Isaiah 41:10 speak encouragement into new beginnings that bring both excitement and anxious anticipation. Am I good enough, smart enough, disciplined enough to make it work? Paul reminds us that God has not given us a spirit that fears what is or what is to come. Instead, God has put His spirit within us, one of power to overcome fear and a sound mind to accomplish what God has set before us. What an amazing reminder from Isaiah that we do not have to fear or be dismayed, because the God of the universe, who knows every hair on our head, has promised us that He is with us! Jehovah-Jireh our provider will strengthen us when we run out of strength, The LORD God will uphold us with His righteous right hand, and our Shepherd will make our paths straight. Praise God for new beginnings and new opportunities to walk in His strength, in His power, and with His Spirit living inside of us.


Are there times or places in your life where you have seen God’s provision and faithfulness bring you out of a fearful or anxious situation?

Praise God for being our Provider, our strength when we are weak, and a gracious Shepherd who gives us a light to our path.


We thank You that You are God our Father. Thank you for strengthening us, helping us, and upholding us with Your righteous right hand. Please give us courage as we face a new semester with all of the challenges and opportunities that it will bring. Please help us to live in Your power, walk in Your love, and to work with clarity and purpose. Fill us with Your hope this fall, and bless our new beginnings. Amen.

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Kelly Seaton

Kelly Seaton lives in Durham, North Carolina (go Duke!), where she is an HIV vaccine researcher. She is a graduate of Messiah College and Penn State University-Hershey. Her cross-cultural experience includes studying abroad in Barcelona, Spain, as well as traveling to Haiti and South Africa. She loves the movies Emma and The Shawshank Redemption. Outside of work, she loves hanging with friends, playing volleyball, and any and all outdoors. Her post Finding a Postdoc in the Sciences: Nailing the Interview is the most visited ESN blog post.

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    abeautifulordinary commented on September 14, 2014 Reply

    Thanks for those timely words, Kelly…. those were the exact verses I needed to hear!

    keseaton commented on September 16, 2014 Reply

    Thank you! I’m so glad they were encouraging.

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