Photo Credit: Angie McMonigal Photography

One of the only two plants that are still alive in our house is a tiny little cactus. At first glance, it seems like any ordinary cactus – spindly, thorny, and hazardous, albeit small. But on closer inspection, you would see that its barbs are more like bristly hairs, and if you were to touch it gently, it would feel more like running your fingers over a hairbrush than thumbtacks. This is a strange little cactus, for sure.

But then again, things aren’t always as they seem. Few things are.

On closer inspection, the dreamy, floating orbs of jellyfish are actually poisonous ropes of fire. The dreary, brown branches of winter’s fauna take on a silvery hue. And the deadly python becomes an iridescent living rainbow.

On closer inspection, we learn that a lazy co-worker is actually struggling with undiagnosed dyslexia. That the aloof mom who avoids making eye contact at PTA meetings is struggling to find the right medication to treat her post-partum depression. That the beautiful, happy couple living in the big house down the street is sinking further into debt and haven’t slept in the same room for more than a year. That the sullen teenager who avoids conversation by listening to loud music in his headphones volunteers at the local homeless shelter after school and writes poetry at night.

Things aren’t always as they seem.

On closer inspection, things may be brighter, darker, softer, or harsher. People may be stronger, more complex, more intricate, or more relatable. Issues may be simpler, thornier, more straight-forward, or more complicated.

Things aren’t always as they seem.

But if we look a little closer, listen a little harder, and care a little more, maybe we will see what is there. On closer inspection, the colors might shift, the textures might soften, the edges might blur. And then it all becomes so clear. That thin, but robust, thread of interconnectedness. A vast web of unity, a cohesive commonality of humanity, and a divine Grace linking you to me to the stranger to the enemy.

Look closely – very closely – because on closer inspection, things aren’t always as they seem.

This post was inspired by a photo provided by Angie McMonigal Photography as part of our Photo Inspiration Challenge. You can see more of her work on her website or Facebook page.



  1. Lisa Todd

    This piece was like a piece of written meditation. such beautiful images tied to such a simple but difficult to retain truth. Thank you.

  2. Christie, this is just beautiful and so beautifully written. Such an important message of looking beyond first impressions and superficial attributes to the real person beneath. Lovely post.

  3. Never judge the book by the cover. I love this. I always try to keep this in mind. I have a difficult neighbor and I have to work hard to keep it in mind, but I do my best. I have a whole book in mind for this topic I think about it so much. It’s true, things are rarely as they seem. A yoga friend of mine who on occasion would bring her husband to class recently confessed to me that she’s getting a divorce, and how cruel he is (not physically – verbally). I was so floored by the revelation. Another example of how little we know about what goes on behind closed doors, and that we should never, ever judge.

Psst... Why not enter your email below and add a little awesomeness to your inbox?

You have Successfully Subscribed!