This post is written to link with Five Minute Friday: write for five minutes on a one-word prompt: the prompt today is “life.”
As soon as I saw the FMF prompt this week, my mind went straight to musical theatre, to what is, for me, one of the finest moments – one that touches me on a deep level and has me torn between standing up cheering, or dissolving in a flood of tears.
It comes from Sister Act The Musical and centres around the character of Sister Mary Robert.
When you first meet Mary Robert, she is shy and quiet, always kind and eager to please, but content to stay in the background, doing what is expected of her, avoiding standing out and being noticed.
Then, during choir rehearsal, her talent for singing is discovered. Despite the fact that her voice is so quiet, it is beautiful. She just needs some encouragement to believe in that, to believe that she deserves to be heard.
And it gets her thinking – what else has she missed out on because of her fear and her tendency to hide?
“I’ve never talked back, I’ve never slept late,
I’ve never sat down when told to stand straight,
I’ve never let go, or gone with the flow,
I don’t even know really why…
All of the feeling unspoken, all of the truths unsaid –
They’re all I have left of the live I never led.”
But, more than that, she starts to believe her life could be different:
“I want to be brave, I want to be strong,
I want to believe I’m where I belong,
To stand up and say, “I’m seizing the day!”
To not just obey, but to choose.”
Towards the end of the show, her moment finally comes. Motivated by compassion for a friend, and the compulsion to do what she believes is right, regardless of what is expected of her, she finds the courage to stand up for herself and let her voice be heard.
“I’ve always been good, I’ve always obeyed,
I’ve lived as you taught me, I’ve prayed as you prayed,
I’ve never once missed a rule on your list,
I’ve done as a sister should do.
But now I won’t bend, now I won’t bow,
My sister’s in need of a sister right now,
And I cannot stay and blindly obey,
And just turn away from what’s true.
You promised one day God would call me,
Isn’t that what you said?
Well, this is that day, and this is that call,
I’m either a sister or nothing at all,
And I’m going now, or I’m leaving forever instead.
It’s time to start living the life I never led.”
That moment gets me every time because there’s more than a little bit of Sister Mary Robert in me. For many years, I was quiet, holding back from what needed to be said, believing I had nothing to offer, too concerned by others’ expectations.
And it’s been a gradual process of stepping out and speaking up. If I look at my life now, compared to what it was like five years ago, I am definitely living “the life I never led.” I have so much more confidence and freedom, and I’ve done things I’d never have imagined I could do.
But Mary Robert inspires me that there’s still more to come. I don’t want to settle. “The life I never led” is not a destination, but an ongoing way of living – of boldness, of courage, of freedom, of willingness to obey God’s call and to love others well.
That’s the life I want to lead.