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The Book That Changed My Life by Mariela Reiss

“The Road Less Traveled”

Lunch and Inspiration

I was having lunch with my friend Martina the other day, and she spoke to me with a great deal of passion about a book that changed her life. Which got me thinking: If I had to pick one book that changed my life, what would it be?

The answer came to me pretty quickly. In a lifetime of reading books, there were only a small handful of books that even came close. Of that handful, the first one that came to mind was “The Road Less Traveled” by M. Scott Peck.

The Road Less TraveledA Different Kind of Psychology

For those who don’t know, M. Scott Peck was a psychologist who was very rooted in his Christian faith, and he allowed his faith to color the way he approached psychology.

The amazing thing about his book is this: in a time when half of the self-help books on the market were about how to have more self-esteem (I know, I read them all), he dared to say things like “life is difficult” and that true spiritual growth came out of the hard work of overcoming problems. This was not a rose garden kind of book.

But Peck’s genuineness, his stories of different patients and their struggles, and his positive view of life’s problems…these all rang true for me. But the truly life-changing part came in the very last chapter.

The True Meaning of Life

So Peck had written a whole book about the need to overcome problems in order to grow. Almost as an afterthought, Peck threw in a chapter in which he explained what he thought was the point of all this overcoming. And his conclusion boiled down to this:

▪The whole point is for us to become like God.

▪Even more, that God engineered the whole process so that we could grow to become like Him.

▪The ultimate goal of life was to learn to think and do, to act and react, like a loving God.

The Road Not Taken

The meaning I had been searching for, this man had condensed into three pages.

I don’t know who I would be today if I hadn’t read that book. A couple of decades have passed since then. But I know it changed me. At the very least, it reaffirmed my faith and became, somehow, a part of who I am and how I face life.

Just writing about this book reminds me of the Robert Frost poem “The Road Not Taken,” which the book is named for. Long after I forgot the class where I had to memorize this, I have remembered the final words of the poem:

“I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”

Both the book and the poem have urged me to go in paths I wouldn’t have otherwise seen.