Things Are Not Always What They Seem

Doctors sometimes request their patients, particularly older patients, to undergo cognitive exams. Or a patient, concerned about their own memory, may even request to take them. Inability to remember facts or solve problems could indicate memory loss or dementia.

When things are not what they seem

Such was the case with an acquaintance of mine. She arrived punctually for the appointment she had requested. Then she waited nervously to hear her name called.

At length the nurse called, “Signora Rossi.” (Let’s say that’s her name.) And she entered the examining room.

After a bit the nurse went out again, and again called “Rossi.” So Signor Rossi got up and entered the same room. Doctors seem to prefer spouses present during testing.

At that point, Signora Rossi seemed confused and dismayed. “That’s not my husband,” she asserted.

The doctor and nurse exchanged knowing looks, with raised eyebrows. You know the kind? They communicate: “We’ve got a problem here.” This patient was worse than they’d imagined!

“This is not your husband?” they asked.
“No, he’s not. I’ve never seen him before!”

At that point, they turned to the man. “Is this your wife, sir?” Fully expecting him to affirm that it was indeed his spouse.

But he too flatly declared that he didn’t know her and she wasn’t his wife! Again, raised eyebrows.

“Aren’t you Signor Rossi?” they inquired.
“Yes, but I’ve never seen this woman before!”

Those medical professionals wondered if they had double dementia on their hands. Oh my, this is terrible, really terrible, they thought.

In the end, they learned that two Signor Rossi had been in the waiting room, and the wrong one answered the summons. So they called in the woman’s real husband. And sent the other man out to await his turn for examination.

None of them were as confused as they first seemed!

Many things in life can play tricks on us.

Things and people can look like one thing, when they’re really another.

  • Many flowers are cleverly disguised weeds.
  • A gold nugget could turn out to be just a colored rock.
  • A huge smile can hide depression.
  • Tears can be an expression of immense joy.
  • Someone who seems to ignore you might simply have a hearing impairment.
  • The way you see yourself might not be what others see in you.
  • Just because people share a surname doesn’t mean they’re related.

Things are not always what they seem. Even thistles are beautiful flowers!

A mistaken identity or conclusion can bring joyful surprises or sad dismay. Or at times even enormous amusement.

As in the case of Signora Rossi, which at least ended well. The doctor declared her mentally fit even though at first it seemed she didn’t know her own husband. And they sent her home – with the right man!

But sometimes false impressions can lead to incorrect judgements that could cause problems. The Bible is full of such examples.

  • Judas appeared to care about the poor, but he only wanted to steal money – John 12.
  • The Pharisees appeared to be holy and righteous, but inwardly they were sinful and self-centered – Matthew 23.
  • Judas thought Mary was wasteful and extragavant, but Christ affirmed her generosity – John 12.
  • Martha thought Mary was lazy and selfish, but Christ declared her devout – Luke 10.

Seen through Christ’s eyes each of those rash judgments proved faulty. Christ looks beyond impressions, into the heart. He never judges a book by its covers, knowing there is much more in between.

It’s understandable how the doctor and nurse thought that the presumed Mr. and Mrs. Rossi were confused. They didn’t have all the facts.

We need the full picture

Our judgment of a person or situation might seem valid too. But we don’t always have the full picture. We’re getting a distorted impression, as if looking into a warped mirror.

Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.

1 Corinthians 13:12 NLT

We gaze at ourselves in our distorted mirror and see a puny pussycat. But Christ looks at us and knows that through him we have lion-like strength and courage.

We view others through our faulty mirror and notice their imperfections. But the Lord sees them with complete and perfect vision.

He sees someone like Mary selflessly giving all. He sees rash people like Peter and murderous people like Paul who in the end leave all to follow him. He sees a person like Ruth, perhaps from a despised people group. But who loves and serves far beyond the call of duty. Or like David, who may fall into sin, but has a ready heart for repentance.

No, things are not always what they seem, or as we see them. So let’s remember in every situation to peel back the cover and learn what’s really going on. Let’s look with eyes of love that seek the finest in all people and situations.

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 KJV

Images: Cat & lion by Mohammed Hassan | Thistles by MariyaM.

7 replies on “Things Are Not Always What They Seem”

Wow! What a remarkable post. The picture you painted of the woman who seemed confused but wasn’t was spectacular. As are the other examples. Our grid of perception isn’t always one of truth. It takes perseverance and intent to seek the truth behind what is seen. Thanks for this great reminder!


Oh yes, Dayle. Our power grid (if we can say it that way) isn’t always working well. Sometimes I fear mine has stopped working altogether, and I don’t see well in that power shortage! It does take perseverance and intent to see behind the scenes. But then, you of all people, realize this. You’re always looking beyond the tip of the iceburg, my friend!!

Liked by 1 person

I love this, Sheila. How often I realize that I have judged a person or situation wrongly. Or even if things are as they seem, your reminder of how we are to show God’s love is always to be our reaction. Thank you, and have a blessed Easter!


It’s so easy to draw incorrect conclusions and to judge others. And so easy to forget that love thinks no evil. I hope I will heed my own warning here – to remember that love is kind and thinks the best of others! I know it’s right, but sometimes forget. Oh, woe is me!


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