It Could Be Worse…


“It could be worse.”

I think every person on the planet has used this phrase at one time or another. It’s part of Parenting 101 to teach children perspective by asking them to see how much worse off other people are. I’m not knocking the teaching, I think it’s very true. Recognizing how blessed we are, especially in adversity, is a good thing.

But when I hear someone say these few words, it’s a cue for me to be a support.

One day, a friend confided that her life felt ‘out of control’. Every day was like ice skating season, and she couldn’t skate.

One of her children, who didn’t live with her, was giving her fits. He made some disastrous financial decisions that could have easily been avoided. Her husband was desperately unhappy at work, and repeatedly threatened to quit. It looked like her father-in-law was starting to forget things…more than the usual ‘oops’ stuff. And now, her doctor wanted to talk to her about some lab results. She couldn’t bring herself to call him back.

“I don’t know why it sees like everything is hitting me at once. I barely get a chance to digest one thing, when something else swoops in. I feel like I’m drowning… Well. I guess it could be worse.”


My heart just went out to her. Her stress-o-meter was off the charts. She was trying her best to cope, using that old phrase to help her see that many were facing worse trials.

It’s very tempting to meet ‘it could be worse’ with an “Amen”, or a pat on the back while changing the subject. It sounds like she’s coping the best she can, right? But honestly, I don’t think we should do that. Instead of reacting to the phrase, I think we should hear the hurt.

We can be her lifeguard, diving into the pool of her sorrow, holding her up so she doesn’t slip beneath the waves.

She needs to talk. Problems lose a little weight each time we tell the story. Just listening makes us a healing presence.



The pain, stress and worry she is feeling is real. She’s sharing so her struggle can be recognized. It calls out to me, begging to be carried, and to be respected as a burden too heavy to carry right now.

Yes, it can always be worse. Thank God it’s not. But I hear your pain, and I want to share in this moment of feeling like you’ve lost the battle. Like you’re ready to tip over from the burden of it all.

As we share our troubles and wisdom and love, may the Lord send His peace and healing to help you cope. May you skate with sure feet over the icy fields on your path.

And may He send His peace and grace to us all, so we never ignore anyone’s pain.

It could be worse? Yeah. I know.

Come on over and tell me about it anyway.


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72 thoughts on “It Could Be Worse…

  1. What a lovely post and such an important reminder. You’re such a good friend Ceil.

    I’ve announced “it could be worse” and then it GETS worse and you’re right, a listening ear, a word of support means the world of difference.

    Blessings to you my friend (and welcome back from your break)! I hope you had a lovely time visiting family.

    Wishing you a blessed evening.

    • Hi Jennifer! I forgot about the fact that sometimes after you say it, things do get worse! Ugh… (note three dots here, your forte!)

      I know I’ve used this phrase myself, I don’t think it’s a bad thing. I just don’t think I should be ignored because I’m trying to pick up the pieces. We all need a listening ear from time to time.

      Things went well on my visit! Everyone is in one piece, and getting back to normal. Normal is good 🙂
      Have a wonderful afternoon my friend,

    • Hi Joyful! I know you would do the same, and probably provide some of your great cooking too!

      I hope we all are that face of Jesus to our friends who struggle.

  2. Oh my goodness Ceil, I love this post! When you said, “Problems lose a little weight each time we tell the story,” I was thinking, “Yes, YES!”
    Your words are so true. I hope I can be the friend who listens because I know I have been on the receiving end after someone listens to my (not so drastic) woes and boy oh boy, does it make me feel better.
    Great post.

    • Hi Kathleen! How nice to see you today!

      Thank you for your kind words about the post. It really is true that talking about our troubles to someone who cares is healing in itself. I know God has given me some great people who can ‘take it’ when I vent. Like you, I want to be that person when I can to someone else too.

      Hope you and your family are having a great start to Fall!

  3. It’s funny, today my post was all about troubles, and waiting for the *other shoe to drop* – and sometimes, doesn’t it feel like that?! Like it’s just onethingafteranother, and our ability to cope is gone. Yes, it’s at these times that a good friend, with a listening ear and shoulder to cry on, is crucial. I believe that the Lord uses the hearts of other believers to be His hands and feet. And while the Holy Spirit comforts our souls, these tangible reflections of His grace give the human touch so desperately needed.

    Yes, things could be worse – but our stuff is the stuff that affects us. And when we are overwhelmed, kindness is such a balm to the spirit.

    GOD BLESS, Ceil.

    • Hi Sharon! I also think that we are God’s hands and feet, His grace moving in the world. If we don’t reach out to each other, then maybe we’ve missed the chance to make a grace-filled difference in someone’s life.

      And YES! It does feel like onethingafteranother. Love that!
      Hope you are feeling the love and grace of the Lord in your Wednesday,

    • Hi Donna! Thank you so much for your kind comment Donna. It’s great to see you again 🙂

      Lord knows you’ve had your share of people saying this at work, on both sides of the stethoscope (hopefully not a ‘doctor steth’, right? LOL). I know you give your all to everyone in your pathway in L and D.

      Have a great Wednesday!

  4. I loved what you said about how the burden weighs less each time we share the story. It is so true…shared sorrow weighs less on each one who is bearing it. I feel so bad for your friend, and I trust her lab results came back good. Life can be so hard, and it is such a blessing that we have a Savior with broad shoulders and a heart that is moved with compassion concerning our needs. So thankful for this post, dear friend. God bless you. 🙂

    • Hi Cheryl! I know you have a tender heart for those who are undergoing trials. You certainly have been in my shoes, trying to give comfort to someone who just can’t see any light in their life at all.

      God has a way of sending just the right person at just the right time to help us. I know I have benefitted from that, and I hope that I can pay that forward when I’m able too.

  5. I very seldom have “one of those days.” Today has started out like that. I know…”it could be worse” but that phrase won’t work today. I’m not into longing for worse. 🙂 Just appreciate you praying for me today. Thanks Ceil.

    • Hi Bill! You face so many people with sadnesses and hard things in their lives, so I know you’ve heard this phrase from them, if never from yourself. As a pastor, you have a heart for those people, and would never let anyone get away with just a ‘it could be worse’.

      You have a job that’s not easy to do, and takes a lot out of you. I hope you have someone you can talk to at the end of the day, besides the grace given to you by God.
      Yes, I do pray for you!

  6. Dear Ceil … you’ve captured what true community is all about. Beautiful.

    And where 2 or 3 are gathered, He’s right there in the middle of them.

    And He gives us what we need to encourage each other. Just like you’ve done here today …


    • Hi Linda! You are so right, even when two are together, God is in the middle of it all. And we can be His hands and feet to His precious ones. What a gift that is!

      Hugs right back to you my friend 🙂

    • Hi Pam! I know you have my friend, and I’m so thankful that you have your wonderful husband and family/friends to support you. Just because it can always be worse, it doesn’t mean that what you are going through isn’t a challenge, and isn’t awful.

      You’re a hero in my book my friend.
      Blessings to you always,

    • Hi Martha! Thank you for your kind words about the post today. I’m sure you’ve been there with friends who need your sympathy and warmth. Something tells me they never go away without it.

      Have a wonderful afternoon!

  7. I’ve never cared for that particular line of “comfort” either. It’s true, yes, but during what seems to be the worst storm of your life, one after another, I don’t think it’s comforting or productive to tell someone, “It could always be worse.”. I tell myself that a lot, during hard seasons, but I do try to refrain from saying that to others, especially when they’re telling me, “I wish I didn’t have to wake up tomorrow. Death would be better than this.”

    I hope your friend has found an easier place in life.

    • Hi Dayle! Wow, it sure sounds like you have been there for friends who have needed the reassurance of your friendship and love. I’m so glad you don’t just spout words, but really put yourself out there for your loved ones.
      I hope they do the same for you.
      Have a blessed afternoon, wrapped in the love God,

  8. Oh Ceil, you have such a kind, perceptive heart. I love that you saw past that phrase to her hurt. “The pain, stress and worry she is feeling is real.” Yes! You have also given me encouragement as I easily say that phrase to myself and don’t acknowledge to myself that the hurt is real. Thank you for also validating my pain today. Blessings and hugs!

    • Hi Trudy! I thought that you might connect with the theme. There are so many who can understand what you are going through. I am so thankful that you have people in your life who will support you, as you know, it’s just a lifesaver.

      Keep sharing your story! I know that it grows lighter with each telling.
      God bless,

  9. GREAT Post, Ceil! My daughter told me one time, “Mom, I don’t need you to fix it, I need you to listen.” Exactly what we should do for each other–listen. MANY times I find solutions to my problems by putting them out there—verbalizing the trouble. Unless I begin talking to myself (have considered that), someone needs to be on hand to listen.
    Blessings, Friend!

    • Hi Lulu! I have said those same words to my husband too. Just being heard is a great kindness and helps so much! I don’t think we were meant to carry our burdens alone, and hmmm, well… I don’t think talking to yourself counts 🙂

      I know you are a great place of peace for your daughter. She is a very lucky lady.

      Have a peaceful evening,

  10. Oh Ceil. I love this so very much…

    I say that phrase all the time! And I hear it all the time too. It’s important to have that perspective, but in the end you are so right. We need to help each other bear the burdens and affirm the struggles we are experiencing. We need to truly allow one to feel the emotional expense that weighs on us, no matter if it could be worse.

    “Problems lose a little weight each time we tell the story. Just listening makes us a healing presence.” <— Oh, how I love this.

    • Hi Chris! Oh, I agree it’s a good saying. It does offer perspective. I just don’t want it to stand in the way of me and you. If you have something that’s burdening you, let’s talk about it!

      It really does help lighten the load.
      Thanks for your visit!

  11. Hi Ceil, Good to “see” you again! Hope that your vacation was fun and relaxing. Yeah, the “it could be worse” school of thought isn’t all that helpful; it seems in certain seasons things just keep getting worse (with no end in sight!). Thank you for the reminder to be there for others and to simply listen. Some times listening is all that we can do, in addition to prayer.


    • Hi Kim! You are right about the prayer, that should be a part of helping friends, I agree. I do think that listening can be a prayer too, a wish to be as Christ to someone else.

      My vacation was fun and busy. I don’t know how my daughter does it! I came back to a broken internet, finally back on today. Phew! I certainly took that for granted.

      Have a peaceful evening,

  12. Hi there dear friend, what a powerful post. I love getting your posts in my inbox because I know I won’t miss them-but sometimes don’t come comment. Thank you for your faithfulness and transparency as well as encouragement.
    Sending hugs and blessings your way!

    • Hi Noreen! Thank you for your kind comment about the blogpost. I am so grateful to have you for a follower! I know you are busy, and so time is at a premium. It’s great to see you when you do comment!

      I hope we both stick with blogging, and not get discouraged by the ‘numbers game’!

  13. Sometimes “it could be worse” is itself a cry for help and an admition of Faith.

    When things are bad, very bad, and we pray in despair, our Faith is strengthened; because it shows that we still believe there’s Someone out there listening. We wouldn’t pray otherwise.

    God bless.

    • Hi Victor! Wow. I really liked your comment. It is a cry for help and a trust in God’s help too.

      Prayer is very powerful, and I agree that we are moved to speak to God in absolute hope that He is with us. I’m so glad He speaks through all of us too. We can add that life of Christ person to person.

      Thank you for your thoughts on this,

  14. It certainly is a clue when anyone says that and your post is a great reminder to take it seriously. Many years ago, I bumped into a friend from church while grocery shopping and I was in one of those stressful places. I thought for sure when she asked me how I was that she would understand and I will never forget how quickly she changed the subject. That taught me a lesson right there, not to be afraid of others’ pain. We really do need to share it when it overwhelms us to that degree. Life is happening all around us!

    • Hi Mary! How hard that encounter with the woman at the grocery must have been! What a powerful lesson, borne of your own painful experience.

      I think it’s true that we get afraid to hear about another person’s pain. Not knowing what to say…being afraid the bad luck is ‘catching’…there are a lot of reasons why I suppose. The only reason I need to get in there and listen is: That’s my sister/brother. Of course I care, of course I want to hear.

      Love your heart my friend 🙂

    • Hi Nana! Oh bless your heart my friend, what lovely words you have for me today. Thank you!

      I really admire your strength and faith, it’s very easy to be with you. I hope we can get together again soon!

      God bless you always,

  15. Hi Ceil, sometimes we can’t do much than be a “healing presence or a listening ear”.
    Lovely reading your response to this situation
    How was your break?
    Blessings to you Ceil.

    • Hi Ifeoma! Don’t you think that sometimes that’s all we need to do? I know when I’m upset, I just need to get it all out there. I feel better when I do!

      It was a busy break, but really fun. I got to visit with my grandchildren and help a little bit here and there. My daughter is a hard worker, let me tell you! Three little ones in the house is WORK!

      Have a peaceful evening,

  16. Providing a listening ear is probably the very best thing we can do for friends. You’re right, the problem seems to lose weight in the telling.

    Sounds like you are a pretty good friend!

    • Hi Jerralea! I try my friend, and that’s all I can do.

      There is fear in facing someone else’s problems, especially when I have some of my own. But friends break through and share their time and shoulder. That really powerful, and as you said, the very best thing.

      I know you’re an awesome friend too 🙂

  17. This makes me want to be that kind of listening friend…I think I am too often the one doing the talking and not doing the listening. Thank you for this reminder to help shoulder the burden and not minimize it. I know good it feels to find someone who REALLY listens when I am hurting, and who doesn’t just jump in and talk about their problems and ignore mine. SO, help me Lord to be that kind of person too. Thank you for this wonderful message today.

    • Hi Pam! Maybe you are the one who needs to talk? I think sometimes we don’t even recognize our need to share.

      I know I can always be better at listening, and like you, I pray that God gives me the grace to stop and take the time. Days run fast, my lists are long, but the needs of my friends need to come first!

      Have a restful night,

  18. I love this, Ceil: “Problems lose a little weight each time we tell the story.” How true that is. I’m sorry for your friend’s struggles. I’m glad she has a loving ear in you. I’ve used that “it could be worse” phrase a lot as well. I’ll think twice about it in the future when hearing/saying it instead of letting it end a conversation. Thanks for that :).

    • Hi Candace! I know you are a wonderful friend too. It’s just so hard to be present to someone else’s pain sometimes. I’m very hopeful that I never forget to sit down, using those words as an invitation to listen.

      Have a great weekend!

  19. Because we’ve been using it too often, I think it’s becoming a cliche. But really if we think about it, God won’t give us something we can’t handle. So honestly, it could be worse. 🙂

    Great insight. I hope your friend would feel comfort and peace.

    • Hi Lux! I think you’re right about the cliche thing. It’s really a ‘go to’ phrase, and it has a lot of truth to it. I just don’t want it to stop me from letting anyone talk it out. I know how helpful that is for me.

      Nice to see you today! Thank you for your visit 🙂

  20. Ceil, Welcome back!

    What a beautiful post, it couldn’t be said better. They say encouragement is like an oxygen to the soul, just like you said about problems losing weight when shared. Great friends are priceless! I thank God for your life 🙂

    Blessings my friend 🙂

    • Hi Shade! Thank you for your kind words about the post, you always say the most encouraging things. Thank you!

      Great friends are priceless, even the bible says that. And great friends listen to us, no matter if it’s joyful or sad. I know you are a wonderful friend, a true blessing to those around you.

      Have a great weekend!

  21. Wow! You have some powerful words here today. Problems lose a little weight every time we share our story. That deserves an Amen. I also loved these words…Instead of reacting to the phrase, I think we should hear the hurt.

    You have taught me so much today about how to be a good friend and how to handle situations that feel like they are spinning out of control. Hope your weekend is blessed!

    • Hi Mary! Thank you for your encouraging words about the post, I really appreciate them. I know that you are a great friend too, just from reading your blogs.

      Being there when times are hard isn’t easy, but that’s what friends do. What great blessings they are…

      You have a wonderful weekend too 🙂

  22. The point you made about problems losing a little weight, each time we tell the story, is profound. I’ve never heard it phrased that way. Yes, a listening ear is more of a help than we often give credit for.

    • Hi Dawn! I do think that’s true, don’t you? I know that I feel so much better when I can share my thoughts and worries.

      Thank you for your visit today! Have a wonderful weekend,

  23. Ceil, I can’t wait to send this to a friend. While she questions her purpose in life sometimes, I do not, because she has been such a support to me. I call her special gift the ” gift of availability”. She has listened and been a help when the Lyme Disease has been most challenging. When I have rallied and said,”well, it could be worse” , she has said, ” it could be better and has done some very appreciated things for me. I won’t ever forget her kindness to me.

    • Hi Anita! You are truly blessed by your friend. She sounds like such a great person, and I’m so glad God gave you her for your journey through Lyme Disease.

      You must be pretty special too, for her to stay with you step for step. I’d say you were made for each other!

      Have a great weekend,

  24. just being and listening to another is priceless. I mentioned to a friend once who was going through a tough time the platitude – light at the end of a tunnel – she said more than once she thought that too and it ended up another train to run over her. That year it did happen that way to her and i felt so helpless. I just held her hand and listened. She made it through and is much happier now. But I will always remember the feeling of helplessness that it did get worse before it got better. Much to think about and be grateful for now!

    • Hi Jean! What a journey your friend had…I’m so glad you could be with her, even though you felt you didn’t add much. I bet your friend would say otherwise.

      Being with people in hard places is tough. We don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel either, but still hold on and hold hands. I think what you did was perfect. We are here to be a light to each other, and you did that. So glad she’s doing better!

      Happy weekend my friend,

  25. Just a perfect story, Ceil. I have one daughter who will not let me use the phrase, “It could be worse”. She wants to address the issue with purpose, head-on, and welcomes heated discussions. She knows this approach will shift to “It could get better”, and it does!

    • Hi Alice! Thank you for your kind words about the post, I appreciate them!

      I like your daughter’s idea about facing problems ‘head-on’. It’s harder in the short-run, but better in the long, as you pointed out. She certainly doesn’t dismiss the problem, or the feelings. I bet she’s a strong woman!

      Have a great weekend 🙂

  26. Oh dear Ceil,
    What a beautiful post. I think this is related with post that I just wrote, about helping the lost people. Sometimes in this kind of situation I have no idea to help them or to tell the Jesus is the only Hope but I keep praying that Spirit lead me. 🙂 That why we are here.
    I’m glad you’re back and thank you for the comment. Thats the best comment about my cook ever haha.
    Praying for you.

    • Hi Delvalina! It is hard to put yourself in a situation that seems so hopeless to a friend or family member. At those times, just being there, and listening is the best thing. I know when I need to talk, a friendly, open ear is what I need.

      Keep being creative with your cooking! I think that’s marvelous 🙂
      Happy Weekend,

  27. Hi, my friend!

    Just catching up here with your posts since you were in Philadelphia.
    You are so very right on this topic! That phrase does little to comfort our hearts or encourage us and also reveals our comparing our own situation with someone else’s perhaps. Our situation is really a level 10+ for us at that moment and we need others to hear us, feel with us, offer us our ears, our hearts, and a cup of coffee or tea. Thanks for the “so very right” nudge related to this phrase!

    Love and grace,

    • Hi Pam! Thanks for coming by and reading and commenting too!

      I like that description of life being a ’10+’. Such a descriptive way to show how stressed we can all get. Coffee and a listening ear is the perfect 1 – 2 for me!

      Hope you’re having a peaceful Sunday,

  28. Great post Ceil. I have unfortunately been repeating this mantra in my head the past few weeks, “It could be worse”. Sharing with praying friends has helped immensely. (PS: Cute teapot you have! Wish we were closer so we could share a cup.)

    • HI MINDY!! I’m so glad you have faith-filled friends who can help you sort through your feelings. It really helps!

      I’d share a cup of tea with you anytime! That’s not my teapot though. It’s cute, looks like of ’50’s to me. It’s a stock photo, and it just spoke to me of meetings with friends and sharing.

      Blessings on your Sunday,

  29. Love your phrase “a healing presence”. Listening to someone describe their feelings of being overwhelmed can make one feel helpless. What a beautiful phrase to keep in mind.. Thanks Ceil!

    • Hi Diane! Sometimes the best thing we can do is just listen. I know I don’t really expect anyone to ‘fix’ me when I unload. Just the friendly ear and an open heart…that’s what I need.

      Thanks for visiting and commenting Diane! It always makes my day 🙂

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