Video: What Does God-Centered Love Look Like?

SA Lifeline sees recovery as an ongoing process of living with God at our center, “One Day At A Time.” But what does God-centered love look like?

For those of us who have lived with a loved one in addiction, we have often fallen into a model of dysfunction, putting our addict at our center.

When this happens, we of course become overwhelmed with feelings of chaos and trauma: fearful, depressed, hyper-vigilant, overtaken by obsessive thoughts, resentful, confused, angry, numb.

When we step back and realize the chaotic and unreliable individual we have put at our center, it is easy to see why we would be at the mercy of such an emotional roller-coaster.

Interestingly, in the chaos of our circumstances, we often believe that by putting our addict at our center, we are trying to show LOVE.

Are You In “Fish Love?”

Rabbi Dr Abraham Twerski gives his insights on “Fish Love,” the kind of love that is actually self-serving and unconsciously motivated by trying to fill our own needs for physical, mental, and emotional fulfillment.

It is only when we begin to realize that only our Higher Power carries the capacity to make us a whole person that we begin to turn to the One who can fill us–instead of paltry substitutes. This realization, this spiritual awakening, is the true purpose and eventual result of working the 12 Steps.

When our needs are truly being met by a perfect, loving, forgiving God, it frees us to be able to love others in a true giving way, which includes empathy as well as healthy boundaries.

Putting God at One’s Center

In recovery, I can say that when I truly feel God at my center, I have a much greater capacity to both offer and receive love.

Although it has felt counter-intuitive, in order to truly love my husband, I have had to kick him out of my center with healthy boundaries and some periods of detachment while I attend to my own healing and recovery.

These uncomfortable periods of time have paid huge dividends in the long run, and are changing our “Fish Love” into something closer to the Real Thing.

1 John 4:18 says,

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.”

What are your experiences with “Fish Love?”

How is trying to live with God at your center shifting your ability to love in a giving way?

How have establishing healthy boundaries in your relationship enabled you to love without fear?

How is your perception of what love looks like changing through recovery?

8 thoughts on “Video: What Does God-Centered Love Look Like?”

  1. I will be honest this is a tough one for me that I am still working on. I’m guilty of “fish love” often. What he said really resonates with me and give me something to really think about. Healthy boundaries have been a way I’ve experienced love for my self, God and others. As I was working on my 4th step I discovered a defect of mine where I expect something (a thank you, service in return, etc.) in return when I did some kind of service for someone else. Realizing this and surrendering it to God has really changed how I view my relationship with others. This discussion will be a good thing to add to my 10th step “spot check”….did I experience true love or fish love today?

    1. Amen Tosha! Becoming aware that I am unconsciously in “Fish Love” is eye-opening. Learning to love without expectation is yet another part of this process…a great idea to add to my daily inventory, for sure.

  2. I am ALL in agreement until he said “everyone loves themselves” – like that is a universal truth. I would say it that is the underlying reason for a lot of heartbreak that we see in recovery: a lack of self love or even a self hate. In place of that I would probably say “everyone has self interest” – which is extremely true. But self love? Nah… I don’t see that a lot until later stages of recovery.

    1. That is a great insight…there is definitely a big difference between trying to protect myself and truly loving myself. How is Self interest different than self-love–this is another whole topic to think about. Thanks for sharing.

  3. I need to feel an emotional connection to my husband in order to express my love in a sexual (and sometimes even physical way) and I have a boundary around that. I don’t feel an emotional void when my husband and I aren’t connecting emotionally, I just don’t feel comfortable with him physically and sexually at those times. Am I off center?

    1. I think you bring up a great point. I also hold a boundary around physical/sexual connection–we don’t connect sexually if we don’t feel connected emotionally. I think this keeps us both in tune to what sex is actually intended to be…a physical expression of an inward emotion and commitment. When you have experienced betrayal over the span of years, I think this is a crucial part of being able to trust and reconnect.
      I also relate to what you are saying about not necessarily feeling an emotional void if we aren’t emotionally connected. This also is something I am not always sure about. Sometimes I think this feels healthy because I am truly God-centered. Other times I think it means I have detached and numbed out of fear. This always a tricky one for me. It just depends on the situation and where I am at.

  4. Thank you Jamie for your comment. When the Rabbi said everyone loves themselves I was shocked. I thought really? I haven’t and don’t fully, yet. I am in the first month of recover and I can say I have given up a lot of me to make my addict happy and it didn’t work. I just got more and more miserable. When I read Matthew 22:36-39 and it says in vs 39 and The second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. I thought I am off the hook, I do not love myself so I do not have to love my neighbor. Nope, This meant I had to learn to love myself. I needed boundaries, a voice to say, it isn’t ok to speak to me that way, I need and I would like. These actions are the beginning of loving myself. I have given more than I have received but for the wrong reasons. I thought giving more would make me “good”, “accepted” and “not bad”. Nope. Loving me from the get go is the key.

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