The Life I Never Led

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.



23 thoughts on “The Life I Never Led

  1. I have never seen this in movie or play, but now I will surely be looking to see the movie. Wonderful post! Thank you for sharing as I, too, don’t want to settle but want to live fully in all God has intended for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. They wonder how I got here,
    dogs and guns and aeroplanes.
    My cobbers think it very queer,
    and think I am insane.
    They wonder how I made this life,
    an altar to “I won’t grow up!”
    They think it my seppuku knife,
    my Old Greek Smart Guy’s hemlock cup.
    There never were the gatherings,
    deep talks with gentle kindred souls;
    I laboured ‘neath the shade of wings,
    thinking solitude would keep me whole.
    They think that I’m a shallow jerk,
    but in the main, I think it worked!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. How wonderful that you are now leading the life you never led. I love this post, Lesley. Sometimes I’m surprised still when I find myself driving to places I never thought I’d go or doing things I never imagined I’d do. Only by the grace of God!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It is always an interesting exercise to look back at our lives – five years ago or even more – and see how we have changed and the differences in what we assumed or expected and the reality. Hopefully, we see mostly positive and welcomed change!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I love Sister Act. I can see a bit of Sister Mary Robert in you. This right here is a beautiful summation: “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.” Amen.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. You certainly are making up for lost time with your blog – saying the things that need to be said. We do (usually) gain wisdom with age as we become the person God intended us to be!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Oh goodness, I am Sister Mary Robert, too only I’m still stuck in her first verse! I’m so happy that you have made it to her finale! I sense a confidence and boldness in your writing that I so admire! Wonderful post! Keep living that life!

    Liked by 1 person

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