Spotting a Spot.

“You don’t throw out the whole shirt just because there’s a spot on the sleeve.”

Seconds after Mom spoke these words, the truth of it hit me in the solar plexus. Her wisdom bubbled forth in reference to a guy I’d dated very briefly in college. When my interest in him waned over something Mom considered irrelevant to securing a happily ever after, she wielded her wisdom and socked it to me.

I don’t even remember what is was that soured my affection toward this guy, but the fact was, I’d chosen to fix my gaze on what I’d considered a ‘spot on the sleeve’ and promptly tossed out the whole shirt.

With one swift decision, a relationship was severed.

The point here is not whether or not I’d let a Mr. Wonderful slip through my fingers. I didn’t. Just ask my husband of twenty eight years or any of our four children. It’s about my tendency to spot a spot.

Mom’s words still swish through my brain, a hushed whisper that paints a vivid picture of a perfectly good and wearable shirt marked by one lone spot. An ugly stain my sin nature fixates on and then deems the whole thing of no value. 

“You don’t throw out the whole shirt just because there’s a spot on the sleeve.”


Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. I Samuel 16:7b

I think Eve had a bit of ‘one spot on the sleeve’ mentality. There she was, placed lovingly in the Garden of Eden, a perfect environment prior to the fall of man. (Genesis 3) and perfectly matched up with Adam, her own Mr. Wonderful.

And still she found fault. She’d spotted a spot on the sleeve of said perfect Garden.

Her gaze locked on the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, she must have thought, “The plants and trees God has given for food are nice and all, but I’m displeased with the fact that I’m forbidden to eat from that one.” 

Insatiable woman.

Wonder if she scraped her glance up and down Adam’s sculpted frame and made a list of things he could do to improve.

Spotting a spot resulted in Adam and Eve being tossed out of the Garden. Forever.

At such great cost to their offspring and all generations to follow. 

To me. And you.

All because one thing wasn’t right. 

In issues of injustice, I’m all for putting up a fight. But it’s the careless ‘out with the spotted shirt’ attitude toward things and toward people made in the image of God who don’t share my skin color or political stance or love for Coke Zero and Pnut M&Ms (who doesn’t love Pnut M&Ms?) – that’s what needs adjustment.

A ‘spot on the sleeve’ mentality suggests one has expended entirely too much energy looking only for what’s wrong.

Judging recklessly.

Imagine all the good that’s missed when I’ve zeroed in on the one thing that’s not quite right?

Until God puts His holy finger on a matter – a relationship, a thing, a circumstance – and says, “That needs to go”, then, and only then, should it go.

That being said, I am a little bummed to have discovered a bleach spot on my fav T-shirt. But no way I’m tossing it out. Even though it embarrasses those four kids. 🙂

How quick are you to toss something out when you spot a spot?


  1. Emily Conrad says:

    Oh, I do this, too! You make a great point. Although, on the practical side of this, for an actual little spot on a T-shirt like what you have pictured, I’d found that a carefully picked Sharpie can help disguise it so no one will notice. I had a similar spot on a red sweater, and a red Sharpie filled it in every couple of washes 🙂

  2. Stacey Weeks says:

    Your illustration is powerful! Thanks for the great post. I’ve done Emily’s sharpie trick above as well 🙂

  3. Kelly says:

    I thought I was the only one who “sharpied” my clothes! LOL! But oh so true, Mary. I have tendency to pick that the little stuff and miss the bigger picture. Thanks for the reminder!

    • Mary Felkins says:

      Boy have I learned a cool new trick to hide the bleach spot, tiny as it is. As always, thanks for stopping by, Kelly.

  4. Margaret Eomurian says:

    Thanks for reminding us to overlook that one spot we see. Sometimes, we are more prone to notice a spot in someone or something without realizing we are covered with spots ourselves.
    Keep writing!

  5. It’s so easy to get hung up on that one little thing–in ourselves as well as others–and overlook all the good. Thanks for saying it so creatively!
    And sharpies work on scuffed shoes as well.

    • Mary Felkins says:

      An on-going challenge to look to the compassionate face of Christ, isn’t it? And to see His image in others as well.
      Sharpies are the star of this week’s blog for sure.

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