How to Help a Friend (When they’re destroying themselves)

Have you ever had this experience:

A lifelong friend–one you love, one you’ve shared great memories with, one you have ‘done life’ with–starts into a ‘downward spiral’ of bad decisions, self-destructive behavior and foolishness? You know that, if something doesn’t happen, that friend will ‘crash and burn’, and it will be ugly. They’ll probably take you and others with them, and it will be devastating for all involved.

What do you do?

You warn them, you try to enlighten them, you try to stop them.

Ultimately, you know that, IF they don’t see the problem and seek help for themselves, then your efforts–however well-intentioned, will fail.

I am in that situation right now.

I have a friend who is ‘going off the rails’. My friend has known me my whole life. I have loved my friend, and vice-versa. We have grown together, celebrated each other, and enabled one another to become more than we ever could on our own.

We have great memories with one another, and I (at least) have sincere hope and prayer that my friend will turn away from their own destruction, and will turn back to a healthy, happy, blessed way of life that will welcome God back in.

My heart hurts for my friend.

But now, my friend has started to turn their back on me, and has started to react negatively, even angrily, to my concerns. Whenever I try to say something, they accuse me of being hateful, small-minded, even mean. My friend wants me to come along with them on their downward spiral, and to pretend it’s really a good thing.

Nope. Can’t do it.

I know my friend is on a path to destruction, and as much as it tears me apart, I can’t go along with them. I hurt for what I know is in their future…I ache for the pain I will see in their lives if they stay on this track.

Ultimately, it’s their decision, but I cannot go with them. I will not.

Instead, I will pray for them, love them, try to point them back to a healthy, sustainable, God-honoring way of living, and I will always have my door (and my heart) open, whenever they want to turn back.

I’m not sure they will, though, and that will be hard.

They’ve found a new group of friends–many, in fact, who love the path my friend is on. They join with my friend, encourage them on this path, even cheer my friend onward.

I foresee a day–maybe in the near future–when my friend attacks me–that’s right, the friend I’ve loved, grown up with and celebrated will (as much as I hate to say it) turn on me. I know it will happen. It’s happening now.

All I can do is stay true to my friend–what they really need, not what their new friends are telling them–and continue to stay faithful to the One who made us both happy, healthy, and blessed. Maybe my friend will turn around.

Maybe not.

Who is my friend?

The United States of America.



“What joy for the nation whose God is the Lord,
    whose people he has chosen as his inheritance.” (Psalm 33:12)

“Godliness makes a nation great,
    but sin is a disgrace to any people.” (Proverbs 14:34)

“Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools. And instead of worshiping the glorious, ever-living God, they worshiped idols made to look like mere people and birds and animals and reptiles. So God abandoned them to do whatever shameful things their hearts desired.” (Romans 1:22-24)


Published by Pastor Dave Johnson

Follower of Jesus, Husband to Lori, Proud Father to 6 great kids, Co-Pastor of Kalamazoo Community Church. Long-suffering Detroit Lions fan.

One thought on “How to Help a Friend (When they’re destroying themselves)

  1. I’m going through almost the same thing and it’s breaking my heart.
    That post was meant for me to read today.
    Thank you.
    Peace and blessings.
    Can you let me know you got this, not sure if I’m doing it right.

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