“Guilt is about what you've done. Shame is about who you are.”
An epidemic of colossal proportions, millions struggle with substance addiction. Suffering in silence, they too often slip through the cracks, desperate and alone.
As a society, it’s incumbent upon us to better address the problem. Improve our collective understanding of its underlying causes. And enhance access to the resources required to heal the decaying hungry ghosts among us.
It is for these reasons I felt compelled to share the story of Rev. Jeff Grant — a former well-respected New York City attorney who got hooked on painkillers and started making decisions so bad, he lost everything.
Like so many, Jeff’s using started rather innocently in the aftermath of a basketball injury. But it didn’t take long before the tectonic plates of his ethical landscape began to shift. Under the influence, he perpetrated a series of financial misdeeds that led to losing control of his law firm. A suicide attempt prompted sobriety, but the long shadow cast by past actions revisited Jeff with a felony fraud conviction and a federal prison sentence.
After serving 18 months, Jeff was faced with re-entry. His old life was no longer an option. He had to create an entirely new one.
Searching for a meaningful spiritual life line to help make sense of his transgressions and inform his trajectory moving forward, Jeff entered the Seminary, earning a Master of Divinity from Union Theological Seminary in New York, with a focus in Christian Social Ethics.
Upon graduation, he began serving at an inner-city church in Bridgeport, Connecticut as Associate Minister and Director of Prison Ministries. It is here that Jeff finds his calling assisting convicted felons and their families to navigate the treacherous waters of civilian re-entry.
Now an ordained minister with 16+ years of continuous sobriety, Jeff is the co-founder of Progressive Prison Ministries, the world’s first ministry created to provide confidential support to individuals, families and organizations with white collar incarceration issues. He has been profiled in a variety of media outlets including Inc., Forbes and Business Insider, has graced the stage at The Nantucket Project (where we first met) and hosts the Criminal Justice Insider Podcast.
This is his story.
It’s a conversation about the perils of addiction and the joys of sobriety. It's about the the opioid epidemic and the prison industrial complex it supports. And it's about how spirituality and divinity can pave the road to redemption.
Not just a cautionary tale from the perspective of a white collar felon, this is also discussion about what happens to the by-standing family members and loved ones, often overlooked casualties in the perpetrator’s wake.
But ultimately this is a story about absolution. It's about confronting past misdeeds. Making amends. Finding grace. And giving back to those in need by sharing the experience and wisdom procured along the way.
I sincerely hope you enjoy the exchange.
Peace + Plants,
Photos courtesy of Ali Rogers
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