"Everything seems meaningless," Charlene complained to me one day.
"What is the meaning of life?" I asked her with seeming innocence.
"How should I know?" she replied with obvious irritation.
"You're a dedicated religious person," I responded. "Surely your religion must have something to say about the meaning of life."
"You're trying to trap me," Charlene countered.
"That's right," I acknowledged. "I am trying to trap you into seeing your problem clearly. What does your religion hold to be the meaning of life?"
"I am not a Christian," Charlene proclaimed. "My religion speaks of love, not of meaning."
"Well, what do Christians say as to the meaning of life? Even if it isn't what you believe, at least it's a model."
"I'm not interested in models."
"You were raised in the Christian Church. You spent almost two years as a professional teacher of Christian doctrine," I went on, goading her. "Surely you're not so dumb as to be unaware of what Christians say is the meaning of life, the purpose of human existence."
"We exist for the glory of God," Charlene said in a flat, low monotone, as if she were sullenly repeating an alien catechism, learned by rote and extracted from her at gunpoint. "The purpose of our life is to glorify God."
"Well?" I asked.
There was a short silence. For a brief moment I thought she might cry -- the one time in our work together. "I cannot do it. There's no room for me in that. That would be my death," she said in a quavering voice. Then, with a suddenness that frightened me, what seemed to be her choked-back sobs turned into a roar. "I don't want to live for God. I will not. I want to live for me. My own sake!"
It was another session in the middle of which Charlene walked out. I felt a terrible pity for her. I wanted to cry, but my own tears would not come. "Oh God, she's so alone," was all I could whisper.
M. Scott Peck
People of the Lie: The Hope for Healing Human Evil