Sarah Henson is the type of woman who makes you feel like you really can do it all and still end the day with a big smile on your face. By day she leads the Women’s Ministry at The Potter’s House of Dallas, her parents’ Bishop T.D. Jakes and Serita Jakes famous mega church with over 30,000 members. In the evenings she’s a devoted wife to NFL linebacker Robert Henson, a proud mother of two and an inspirational blogger. Henson became a mom at 14, and despite what many expected back then, has since turned her story into one of success and triumph.
“You learn so much about marriage once you’re married, and it’s just about applying it,” says Henson, who sat down with us to talk about share her secrets to balancing faith, marriage and motherhood.
ESSENCE.COM: How do you and your husband juggle your careers and parenting duties?
HENSON: It’s important that we always have someone that’s at home creating that foundation and consistency for the children. My son is 9 and my daughter is 2. The twos haven’t been “terrible,” but she has way too much to say — way too much. (Laughs)
ESSENCE.COM: What are some of the strengths within your marriage?
HENSON: I think one of our biggest strengths is really being able to laugh and play with one another, because life is so hard and you have to. My husband is in the football world, which is so cutthroat and serious. There are so many injuries. And in ministry, especially on this scale, there’s a lot of criticism and a lot of people who won’t always be happy for you. Sometimes you just need to be able to laugh with one another. So, whether it’s him tickling me, or me making fun of his socks not matching — whatever — we find something to laugh about every day and that translates with our children. I’m proud to say that my children are happy children and that means a lot to me. They still have their innocence. At the end of the day, we’re all just little girls and little boys trying to make it in this world. Sometimes we just need to be able to look at someone and say, “I love you, and I want to laugh with you. I see that little person in you and I’m committed to bringing out all of the great things inside of you.”
ESSENCE.COM: What message do you have for mother’s struggling to find the balance between career and family?
HENSON: I think that’s when your relationship with God becomes really important. If it’s something that God has called you to do, then He’s going to make a provision for you and your family as long as you stay in line with his will. I know that, for me, my family is my very first ministry. If I don’t have peace there, and if we’re not on one accord with good communication, then nothing else can really work. Ministry is from the heart. You can’t project something that you’re not living. Before I tell someone else to kiss on their babies and love on their husband, I want to make sure that I’m doing those things at home so that God will honor what I’m trying to do. My first priority is to this person that I’ve decided to fight life with and if I don’t make him feel like a priority, I can’t tell someone else to do the same in their life. Certain couples end up in certain situations and don’t know how they got there. Self-evaluation is important. You need to be able to look at yourself and say: Wait a minute. I’ve lost track somewhere and I need to go back and I need to fix it. I don’t ever want to get so far out that I don’t know how to bring myself back in.
ESSENCE.COM: What lessons have you learned from your relationship with your own mother?
HENSON: My mother is so authentic and so genuine. One of the things I’ve always admired about her is that her love knows no limits. My mother never made us feel like we were out of the reach of her love. Sometimes it’s easy to feel like if we fail somewhere in our relationship with Christ that we lose our parents too, but my mother never made us feel like we had that ultimatum. We could make a mistake and have to deal with God but we’d always have her on our side. I just really hope to continue that legacy with my children.
ESSENCE.COM: What types of goals have you set for yourself as a mother?
HENSON: One of my goals for my children is that if they ask me a question, then I’m always going to be honest with them. I won’t sugarcoat it or tell them they’re too young to know the answer. I think that there are always appropriate responses. I don’t ever want them to feel like, if they ask me something they won’t hear the truth. Even at 9, when my son asks me what sex is, as much as I cringe and want to protect him, if he’s old enough to ask me that question, I think he deserves a response.