Rix Thorsell is a member of our White Collar Support Group that meets online on Zoom on Monday evenings. We will celebrate our 250th weekly meeting on Monday, March 29, 2021, 7 pm ET, 4 pm PT; all Fellow Travelers are invited.
‘New Paths’ – Reflections on “White Collar Support Group”
Rev. Fr. Rix Thorsell
There’s a certain point when a person realizes that they can’t do it alone. For me, it started with my departure from ministry after developing a gambling addiction. My life fell apart from there, and only then did I start to feel truly humbled, and at the mercy of a seemingly uncaring universe.
While I attended recovery programs with the hope I could understand myself better, there was always a chasm between my life experiences and those of my fellow recovering gamblers. There was something missing that I felt deep in my soul, not so much for my addiction but for the experience of being criminally prosecuted for use of unauthorized gift cards as a minister. I struggled to find anyone who could relate to the situation I had gone through.
I knew Jeff Grant from my days in seminary over a decade ago, long before my personal tragedy unfolded. I knew of this ‘White Collar support group’ Jeff had founded, but never looked into that much further, even after I started my recovery program. But in my desire to better myself, and a nudge from a few friends, I decided to check it out. I had no idea what was on the other side of this door I just walked through.
That first meeting I attended several years ago gave me a jolt. Yes, there were others in the White Collar Ministry Support Group who had addictions, but to listen to others who committed non-violent, white-collar crimes instantly gave me a sense of comfort and belonging. Every week, new stories and experiences opened my eyes wider to both my own journey as well as the struggles so many other face in silence.
I’ll be honest and say that at the outset, I was erratic in my attendance after that first meeting. I felt uncertain as to the good it could give me in the long run. So I popped in when I made the time and kept listening, hoping something would reveal itself… some sort of sign or revelation.
Interestingly enough, it wasn’t just the listening that drew me into this community. Jeff wanted me to speak on my story, both during the meeting and on his podcast “White Collar Week”. That was a jolt for me.
I found someone who was intentional about asking me to share my experience, not out of a mandated “talk-time” but in a genuine interest in what I went through, and how I was moving on from past mistakes. It was at that point I knew I had found a home and community that I never knew I needed. And it offered much, much more than that.
So often, I had been searching for what could help me. But the reality was that it wasn’t just about me, but also what I could offer to others by simply being open and honest about my past and present. This White Collar Ministry Support Group, and Jeff particularly, has offered something a lot of us search for but struggle to find. The value of being a part of this community grows every week, and every new story offers both insight into others’ lives as well as a chance to give one of the most precious gifts; a voice that is heard.
Being heard after feeling discarded by everyone around us is everything.
As we approach the 250th meeting of this group, I can’t help but reflect on my transformation in light of the things I have both heard and shared among those who encountered similar demons. Now, I look forward to Monday nights when new members share their journey, the feedback from those who have walked the path, and the future of a community that meets us where we are. Growth building on growth.
It’s a genuine blessing a space like this exists, and I’m excited to see what the next 250 meetings brings about.
Link here to Podcast Ep. 10: The Ministers, with Guests: Father Joe Ciccone & Father Rix Thorsell
White Collar Week Podcast: An Evening with Our White Collar Support Group. The support group meeting on this podcast is different than most, because all of the 16 group members appearing have agreed to share their names, faces and very personal stories in an effort to reach out to individuals and families suffering in silence. All on the podcast are post-sentencing or back from prison. Watch on YouTube, Listen on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and SoundCloud, link here.