What the Red Sweater Said to the Counselor.

Many years ago, life had begun to tie my soul into little knots. Several sessions with a reputable Christian counselor helped me unravel them, make sense of things.

One day, as I dressed for another appointment with her, the air of early spring held a chill. So I chose to wear a stretch knit sweater, one that required zero ironing. Always an added bonus.

Just so happened the sweater was red. Coordinated with my print capris.

Keys in hand – and with no conscious thought to my color choice – off I went.

Half way through the session, the wise and discerning counselor glanced down at my sweater, then met my gaze through her reading glasses.

“Interesting that you’re wearing red.”

I shrugged.

Silence expanded the room.

I shifted in my seat a bit and knit my brow in confusion.

“That way,” she continued. “No one can see your heart bleeding.”


My heart? Bleeding?

Well, I was sitting in a counselor’s office. And it wasn’t so she could help me discover better ways to organize my kitchen.

The counselor had discerned with amazing accuracy. Emotionally, my heart was bleeding.

Wearing red kept those outside the small space of her office – family, friends, neighbors – from knowing the real status of my heart behind the smile.

Yes, there is a need to be careful with whom I share and about what I share, but it’s easy to become too guarded.

After all, Satan prefers no one know. 

Wear red! Keep your heart ache a secret. No one cares. They’ll laugh! You’ll be shamed…

Because if I seek counsel, share my struggles, and expose my need with those I trust…allow them to draw on the power and provision of God in prayer on my behalf…God can redeem and repair that bleeding heart, make it useful for His service.

Makes me a major threat to the enemy.

The world is far too full of red-sweater-wearers.

Shame, fear of rejection, or fear of, well, just about anything, keeps the bleeding heart hidden.

My handy red sweater that needs no ironing prohibits others from knowing life feels unbearable.

Stripped of all but a simple loin cloth and in full view of an angry crowd, Jesus shed blood for the sins of the world.

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.

Ephesians 1:7

He died for those who accused Him of blasphemy.

For those ordered to pound the nails into His hands and feet.

For those that stood and mocked the man they considered a major disappointment, this unimpressive carpenter from Nazareth.

Covered in blood, having never worn a red sweater, Jesus looked nothing like the promised Messiah Who would redeem Israel.

But He was. And His heart bled so I could have the freedom to wear white. 

What color covers your heart today?





  1. But I LOVE my red sweater! I may never look at the same again.
    I think your counselor was also a closet poet. Her words were beautiful, if painful.

    • Mary Felkins says:

      I love mine, too! I’m introducing this poetic counselor this weekend as the speaker for our woman’s retreat. Sure would love to wear that red sweater, but no. Not this time. 🙂

  2. My favorite color is red, but lately I’m drawn to hot pink. I think of love and Valentine’s Day in both of those colors. But if I suddenly wore coral, people who know me would know something wasn’t right. Thanks for sharing you heart, red or white, Mary.

    • Mary Felkins says:

      Much appreciated, Zoe.

      LOL! My signature color (as is all over my website) is fuchsia pink. Hot pink would be a close second. Might not ever see me in coral. Orange and I don’t get along.

  3. Emily Conrad says:

    Your post, and the meaning of a colored sweater got me thinking about a sweater I had a character wear once… actually, more than one sweater. And when I consider the color, I realize it was symbolic in more ways than I meant. But I can’t pass this off like it’s all about a character, either. Often, I choose casual shirts with words printed on them because those words match a mood, but I can see how, even when I’m not wearing writing, much about the state of my heart is written in what I choose to wear–how it either hides or reveals emotions. I tend to like to hide my pain, too, so your point about Jesus dying for all to see was striking. There are times when we need to be honest about what’s going on. Great post, friend.

    • Mary Felkins says:

      I’m amazed that Jesus knows what’s going on in there, even when we’ve got the world – or maybe even the counselor – fooled. Thanks for stoping by!

  4. Carol James says:

    I love this, Mary. We are quick to hide behind all kinds of things. Thanks for sharing.

    • Mary Felkins says:

      The heart develops many self-protective measures, doesn’t it? Thankful for a Savior Who shed red blood on our behalf!

  5. What an amazing analogy! We all too often hide our true heart and emotions behind clothing, clowning, smiles, catty remarks. We need to be vulnerable and open for God to cleanse and heal.

    Wear red!
    Good luck and God’s blessings

  6. Thanks for sharing about your red sweater. I feel too many times in church we try to hide all the hurts inside, thinking no one else is hurting. Actually, we all hurt sometimes, and the more genuine we are, the better we can support each other as the body of Christ.

    • Mary Felkins says:

      Well said. We do try to hide what hurts inside, amongst a body of people with whom we should feel safe to share. Thanks for stopping by!

  7. “His heart bled so I could have the freedom to wear white.” I love this! A beautiful description of what Jesus did for me.

  8. We hide behind a lot things, perhaps even our words (the authors among us understand that, I think). Red is one of my favorite colors, but I’ve always considered red sort of a shield–protecting me as I stepped out into the sometimes dangerous world. Maybe the red keeps others from seeing the blood that their barbs might cause. But, I’ll remember what your counselor said. Thanks for sharing, Mary. When we share our pain and our steps toward renewal, I think we help others on their journey.

    • Mary Felkins says:

      Thanks for sharing these insights, Katherine. I appreciate the different perspective. Red is a great color for sure. God chose it for the intensity and significance of what His shed blood means. May we all be better about authenticity regarding what’s really going on inside our hearts, no matter what color we’re wearing.

  9. Chris Manion says:

    My mother always tried to get me to wear red. It suits my coloring. As a young person, it was way too bold for me. I did not want to draw attention to myself, at least not through my clothing. Maybe in little ways. It still feels bold as a color to me, but I can wear it now.

    As a Catholic, we have many Masses where the color of the vestments and altar cloths are designated red for either the feast day of a martyr, or Passion Sunday or Good Friday where we focus on the blood Jesus spilled in sacrifice for all our sins.

    Thanks for sharing a new perspective on wearing red.

    • Mary Felkins says:

      Red is powerful! I love that picture of the vestments and altar cloths displayed during particular Masses and feast days to signify the shed blood of Jesus. Thanks for sharing, Chris.

  10. Heather Bock says:

    I like this metaphor, and I love that God says in Revelation that we will be dressed in white linen–pure and clean!

  11. Today I wear blue. Earlier in the week, I was more “gray,” but God’s sun is shining again and He’s helping me through something. Thank you for this poetic post.

    • Mary Felkins says:

      Love your thoughts, Katy. Thankful God is helping you through something. May you be of greater use to others because of the challenge.

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