Name: Artez Henderson City: Memphis TN | Instagram: @championfatherhood
Artez Henderson Says “Being a Father means being blessed with one of the biggest honors in life”
My dad was scarcely involved in my life growing up which greatly impacted me as a young boy, teenager, young adult, and in certain ways as a grown man. Even as a young teenager, I remembered my dad primarily being concerned about three things based on our interactions, which were: my relationship status, my athletic status, and my financial status. These expectations put a lot of pressure on me to please him as my father. I believe to him these were the fundamental essence of real manhood. The depth of our relationship never went deeper than my relationship, financial, and athletic status. Nearly every conversation with him as a teenager would go something like this:
My Dad: Hey son.
Me: Hey Daddy.
My Dad: You good?
Me: Yes sir.
My Dad: Are you still working and making money?
Me: Yes sir, I been trying my best.
My Dad: Good Son. Are you still lifting those weights I gave you? Do you need more?
Me: Yes I’m trying and no I don’t need any more now.
My Dad: So you still talking to that lil girl?
Me: *Nervously lying to him because I didn’t want to disappoint him* Yes Dad I am
My Dad: Good son. Well, tell your sister I said hello. Call your dad sometime.
Me: Okay bye
Almost one year before my wife and my third child were born, my wife experienced two miscarriages within about 11 months. Man, this was tough. It’s already tough to experience one miscarriage but to experience two back-to-back was very disheartening. We were so confused and in a sense mad at God because of this devastating news. To our surprise, some months after losing the second baby we discovered my wife was pregnant again! We were loss for words but still trying to trust God with the raw emotional wounds of the previous losses. We were cautious about communicating the news publicly and wanted to see how things would pan out after the first trimester.
During the last trimester in March 2020, the pandemic hit and my mentor and father figure Pastor Timothy Russell died from covid complications. I was hurt beyond words. It was too much to bear. I had to lean even more on the comfort and peace of my Heavenly Father. I was grateful for the love, guidance, and support I received from Brother Tim and I wanted to carry his legacy on in a special way through my life. I asked my wife if we could change the name of our soon-to-be-born son to “Timothy” in honor of Pastor Timothy. His widow graciously gave us her blessing. Our son Timothy was born healthy in June 2020! It was a hard season but also filled with a lot of blessings as well!
God has been gracious to me in so many ways. He’s making me into a man, father, and husband I know you are proud of. This journey hasn’t been without its challenges but your grandchildren have been instrumental to my growth. On another note, to be honest with you, I still carry a lot of hurt from when I was a little boy. I needed more from you but I didn’t have the words or the courage to say it. For example, when you promised me ice cream and never showed up without any explanation, really hurt little 7-year-old Tez. I wish you gave me more kisses and hugs instead of spankings and threatening conversations about how I acted up in school or didn’t listen to my mama. Our relationship was complex and distant. I get it you were trying to make sure your son was respectful and tough by any means necessary. Maybe that was what you got from your dad growing up. Forgive me but I’m not trying to come off judgmental but I assume your pain, frustrations, and loneliness, probably led to you going too hard on the alcohol and not being able to overcome the drug addiction. Life was hard and you didn’t know how to get help. I can empathize with you to an extent, as a grown man with a family and other responsibilities bills, work, raising kids, and making time for myself, and being a black man in America is a lot to carry every day. Thank God he’s allowed me to imperfectly do the work on my journey through going to therapy to process my past/current hurt, and being vulnerable with other trusted men. I have seen so much growth and healing. I have been able to show up better for Ebeny, Aj, Grace, and Timothy and they know they are loved.
I love you and I do forgive because Christ has forgiven me of so much. I thank you for giving me the best of what you could give. Take care of yourself and know your son is doing great things!