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Variations on a Theme by Niebuhr

by Wendy S. Harpham, MD, FACP

God, grant me the …
serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
courage to change the things I can,
and wisdom to know the difference.

Inspiration image

patience to wait when healing requires time,
courage to undergo more treatment when needed,
and wisdom to know the difference.

discipline to weigh good options,
courage to reject bad advice,
and wisdom to know the difference.

freedom to nourish realistic hopes,
courage to abandon false hopes,
and wisdom to know the difference.

composure to trust my doctors and nurses
   when they have all they need,
courage to question my doctors and nurses
   when they may need more,
and wisdom to know the difference.

determination to be independent when I can,
courage to ask for help when required,
and wisdom to know the difference.

power to repress upsetting thoughts that only hurt,
courage to work through upsetting thoughts that can help,
and wisdom to know the difference.

stamina to keep pushing when it can improve the outcome,
courage to adjust when now is the best it can be,
and wisdom to know the difference.

energy to be with people who care,
courage to avoid people who pull me down,
and wisdom to know the difference.

persistence to pursue goals that inspire,
courage to let go of dreams that only frustrate,
and wisdom to know the difference.

flexibility to shift direction from a failing approach,
courage to stay the course when it deserves more time,
and wisdom to know the difference.

vision to appreciate what remains,
courage to grieve what’s been lost,
and wisdom to know the difference.

humility to pray as if everything depends on You,
courage to act as if everything depends on me,
and wisdom to do both.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

This poem appeared in Hap­piness in a Storm: Facing Illness and Embracing Life as a Healthy Survivor, by Wendy S. Harpham, MD, FACP, avail­able at amazon.com. Dr. Wendy Harpham is a chronic indolent lymphoma survivor, doctor of internal medicine, and best-selling author of books aimed at helping other survivors get good care and live fully. She wrote “Variations on a Theme by Niebuhr” in 2005 to help her face the challenges of treatment and its aftereffects.

Reprinted by the permission of W.W. Norton and Wendy Harpham, MD, FACP, , from wendyharpham.com.

This article was published in Coping® with Cancer magazine, March/April 2013.

 

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