Taking Comfort in Nonconformity

by | May 10, 2013 | Five Minute Friday


I have a hard time letting go. It’s why I wrote about it for 31 Days.

I find myself thinking I need to twist and turn and conform to some better version of me. Usually in the afterglow of feeling confident. It’s a place I seem to return to often, a conversation with myself like the lines of a play I’ve memorized all my life. My intonation and voice never quit good enough. To me.

H and I wind our way into the center of city life on the wrong side of the road. The chaos and nonconformity makes me feel at home and strangely significant, uniquely fitted among the messy and broken fragments of life.

We walk pressed together under the canopy of an umbrella H holds over us, rain spitting from heaven. But I want to feel it, cold and wet on my face.

The gold chain of my purse hangs diagonal over my black overcoat, white polka dot scarf loosely wrapped around my neck. Rows of black bowler hats idle in front of Harrods waiting to be haled for their paycheck. But we keep walking the familiar path we traveled the same week last May.

Choose the square table for two in the large plate glass window, next to the family speaking English with heavy accents. The family behind us speaks French. Or is it Italian?

“You sit facing the window,” H says, “so you can watch people.”

We order gnocchi and stems of chianti, sipping and savoring time. And suddenly, someone nearby screams a sneeze at an unusually high decibel. And the entire restaurant breaks out in corporate laughter.

Perhaps we find ourselves best in the comfort of what isn’t home.


Joining the Five Minute Friday community at Lisa-Jo’s with a snatch of time from our journey through England this week. Pictures from Oxford and surrounding villages. The word prompt is Comfort.


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  1. michelle anderson

    Corporate laughter. I love it! You wouldn’t find that in my home town. Happy FMF!

    • Shelly Miller

      Mine either Michelle, it was quite funny. We’re going back there for sure.

  2. Linda Stoll

    oh I hear you about the letting go …

    • Shelly Miller

      Yes, you too?

  3. DeanneMoore

    This left me with a little ache because I know this. “Home” really isn’t home–we are pilgrims, strangers in this world and so when we aren’t home, in a strange way, we feel more in touch with our real home. I have known this feeling all over the world—the strange comfort among strangers who speak another language— a vast world that allows God to be bigger than the box I put Him next to the Cheerios.

    • Shelly Miller

      Yes, being in London is opening up a whole new world to me. I love it. I’m going to have a hard time going back Dea.

  4. Lynn Morrissey

    I remember last year when you described those big, black taxis as “bowlers,” and that image never left me. I wrote about them many years ago, and can’t remember *what* I called them! That’s what I love about your metaphors: They stick with me! To hear corporate laughter over a sneeze, I’d say, is pretty unconvetional in England. The British are properly proper, I’ve found (which is one thing I love about them, amongst many). But it’s wonderful that you are finding comfort in a “strange” place and feeling at home. I often don’t feel at home unless I *am* at home. But God has finally helped me to accept what is and not flagellate myself over my (award to me) timidity. That’s how He’s made me, and I’m finally coming to just accept it. If I can but plough ahead and take the risk, traveling to whatever site or insight He’s provided, knowing that I’m at home in Him, then I just try to go with His flow and know all will be well in the end, even when I’m uncomfortable. And the neat thing is, that even in new (and sometimes, for me, daunting situations), I eventually feel His comfort and feel comfortable. Oh, to think I will be riding in a black bowler soon! Have a marvelous journey, Shelly and H!!! Can’t wait to compare notes.

    • Shelly Miller

      I’m still growing into acceptance Lynn, and He is faithful to help me walk when I limp.

  5. Joy Lenton

    Ah, Shelley, you are in England yet the flavour and scene described here could be pure continental (apart from the “rows of black bowler hats” – so apt!) and the fine spit of rain. Love this description. Comfort and feeling at home is not always confined to geography. Those “messy and broken fragments of life” are universal. So pleased you are savouring the delights of the UK. We are honoured to have you here! Blessings 🙂 xx

    • Lynn Morrissey

      Joy, you must be Shelly’s friend! I love England and the English people. I have corresponded with a family for over forty years, and we will be making our fourth trip to visit this July. I just wanted to tell you how much we love your people and your beautiful land of “mists and mellow fruitfulness”!

      • Joy Lenton

        Oh, sorry to have given you that impression, Lynn. I’m afraid that Shelley and I only ‘know’ one another on social media and in blogging circles. I was simply welcoming her here on English soil with my greeting. So pleased you love England and English people. We are far less reserved than you may have come to believe! Hope you enjoy your forthcoming trip to our green and pleasant land. 🙂 x

        • Lynn Morrissey

          Thank you for clarifying, Joy. I’m amazed at how readily the Internet unites people around the globe. I will look for that “non-reservedness.” Funny, though. My daughter found a great clip about Downton Abbey, comparing British and American fans. And admittedly the Americans were more over-the-top demonstrative. I think we could use a little British reserve once in awhile! 🙂 Thanks for your well wishes, and so nice to meet you.

    • Shelly Miller

      Joy, so glad you liked my descriptions of what you call home. What part of the country do you live in? I’m enjoying it all, the city and the countryside.

      • Joy Lenton

        Hi Shelly. I live in sleepy East Anglia, which is partly rural, partly coastal and partly urban. The area I hail from is Norfolk, a largely rural area with a great variety of natural habitats. It is rich in history, full of great charm for visitors.

  6. Denise Oldham

    Good post.

  7. Amber Cadenas

    Such beautiful description of place here, Shelly, and it leaves me, too, with an ache. I think I’ll be haunted, in a good way, by that last line of yours: “Perhaps we find ourselves best in the comfort of what isn’t home.” It’s so profound, to think of noncomformity as comfort, since we are such creatures of habit. I love the tension of this, friend. Thank you for sharing – and happy belated anniversary to you 🙂

    • Shelly Miller

      Thank you Amber. I’m still thinking about your guest post at Kelli’s. Appreciate you.

  8. Kelly Greer

    Awe! Home sweet home! Lovely stroll through England Shelly….thank you for that!

  9. Megan Willome

    Dena let me stay with her the last two days. I felt more comfortable in her home than in my own. Yet, it inspired me, too.

    • Shelly Miller

      Then you know about what I’m saying here then Megan. Glad you had some time away and with Dena too. Sounds a bit like a crack of heaven.

  10. Sharon O

    I am a people watcher too. IT is amazing when one just sits and observes.

    • Shelly Miller

      You learn so much don’t you Sharon?

  11. Missindeedy

    The simple act of letting you sit so that you could people watch? Those things, our loved ones do for us, bring such comfort. Feeling strangely fitted in seems a beautiful way to describe how I feel so often in this earthly skin.

    • Shelly Miller

      I’m grateful for the way H considers me all the time, even in the little things like sitting facing the window to people watch.

  12. Alia_Joy

    Living vicariously through you and your words. Thankful that you paint a vivid picture for me to enter. Hope you’re having the absolute best time!

    • Shelly Miller

      I am Alia – having the best time. Thanks for being here friend.

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