The Wisdom to Know the Difference: When to Make a Change-and When to Let Go

The Wisdom to Know the Difference: When to Make a Change-and When to Let Go

Julie Clayton   August 17, 2010  
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The Wisdom to Know the Difference: When to Make a Change-and When to Let Go
Number Of Pages, Discs, Etc.
Date Published
September 17, 2009

Thousands of people have been moved by the famous last lines of the Serenity Prayer:

God, give us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, courage to change the things that should be changed, and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.

But how exactly can we know the difference? How can we acknowledge our true limits without negating the possibility for dramatic change? In this inspiring book, Eileen Flanagan draws on her own Quaker faith as well as a range of other religious and spiritual traditions to show readers how they can learn to listen to their own inner voice in determining when a change is needed in their lives or when instead acceptance is the answer. These lessons come to life through the inspiring stories of various individuals, including:

• the mother of a fallen soldier in Iraq who talks about the power of forgiveness and her work to end the war;
• A Katrina survivor who describes how she learned inner peace the hard way;
• a family therapist who shares what he learned about accepting the things he cannot change from the car accident that left him paralyzed.

This illuminating book leads readers to discover the serenity that comes when one has gained "the wisdom to know the difference."

Editor review

Overall rating 

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.
Serenity Prayer

The Wisdom to Know the Difference is like a photo mosaic: a picture made up of many smaller pictures. The small tile images can be seen up close, but at a distance, another image can be seen. In this book, we see snapshots of the personal lives of a small group of demographically and culturally diverse people, including the author, as they face the basic human challenge of discernment: the wisdom to know the difference between what we can (and should) change, and what we must (surrender to and) accept. Well-articulated personal interviews are blended with varied spiritual perspectives and psychological insights that address the spiritual challenges in ordinary life; the larger image revealed is a reality of wisdom and hope.
This book is beautifully written and crafted, truly a literary masterwork in the self-improvement genre.

“Each new generation has a chance to alter two basic definitions of reality in our world—what is acceptable and what is possible.” ~ Rev Jim Wallis

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