FH: Well, you know, I just made a decision about my whole life and even the calling and the ministry that I had that that’s what helped me. One time there was a pastor who was just very transparent and I realized how much help I got the moment that he talked to me. He wasn’t way off in the distance. A lot of times, I went to people who were of the faith and how everybody talked about how good they were doing and how strong they were in faith and during times you know, they would only talk about the triumphs and I just felt far away from the Lord and just felt like man I’m never gonna reach that. So I decided at that point I was kind of faking the funk as well, just like not letting anybody in, until I got tired one day and I just really needed an answer. I’d been singing and traveling and going around and trying to do what I could and I asked this one pastor because I just felt like I was uncovered and failing. And I asked him about it and he was very transparent about it. ‘Oh man, yeah.’ I said, ‘Have you ever felt like this?’ and he, ‘Oh man, yeah, all of that. I encourage myself and that’s just normal,’ without adding an element that says ‘God understands and it’s okay to be that way’. He never added that. He just added a level of how hard it is and how he made it and what happens when he makes it, and he’s very transparent. And from that day I realized the strength that I had in understanding the help and I just decided that’s what I’m gonna be to someone else. In all the areas that I can be I’m gonna be transparent. Just kinda be real and that’s gonna be the level of how I communicate.
BDO: And you have the new CD out, I Will Trust, which it sounds like you’ve been very transparent on that as well. How was recording the new CD a part of your healing?
FH: It was great therapy because literally I would be in my room where I have a studio in my house before I could make it over to my other studio I would literally be bent over in pain and my friends would be looking at me like, “Man, you okay?’ and I’d say, “Man, I’mma be okay just give me a sec.’ And I couldn’t walk and just standing up – a normal thing like standing up was a episode. People had to get behind me, the chairs rolled so I had to be careful about that. I had to think about how I wanted to try to approach standing up and then even thinking about it brung up a level of anxiety. Not deep anxiety but, ‘Man, I gotta get up. I gotta figure it out’. I had to mentally say I’m gonna push the chair back. It’s a lot of thought. The therapy was the fact that I was still writing songs that were upbeat…. But I wanted to do it because I wanted to feel what people felt that feel that way emotionally. They may not have knee surgery but they may be going through something that’s just as painful emotionally….out there going through chemo, going through all sorts of procedures and I was kind of writing for all of them, all of us.
BDO: So when people listen to this CD what can they expect to learn about trust?
FH: I mean, it’s just something that you’re just always gonna have to do probably ’til the day you die. It’s never a place where we get so comfortable that we just know and we just kind of go on about our way and take it for granted that it’s just gonna be there. God probably will always allow us to be in a situation that we’ll have to trust Him.. Honestly, you’ll just have to say, ‘Lord, it’s really all about You and I know you can do it. And if you don’t do it I know you’re still good.’ That’s definitely what I would like them to take away from it.
BDO: What are you doing right now to care for your overall health? Not just your knees, but just inside-out health in general?
FH: First, I’m getting my emotions in tact because when the emotions are out of whack then it’s hard to jump on the treadmill and it’s hard to want to walk 10 miles and all of that. First thing I want to do is get my emotions in tact. There’s family stuff you want to deal with and there’s the whole love component you want to deal with to find out where’s your wife and scratching your head about relationships like, ‘Okay, what in the world is this?’’ And then there are just everyday issues that you deal with – other family members and their concerns and then there’s the whole job component. The whole, where is the gospel music industry going at this point and time? It ‘s not automatic that you’re just going to sell a gold record or have a hit song. You have to scratch your head and now at 53 I’m scratching my head more saying, ‘Okay, what’s next? What do you do next?’ You deal with the whole component because you deal with all of that and then just being a man, trying to figure it out. And people are coming to you for answers. You have to kind of get that under control.
But I rest a lot and I kind of let the healing of my leg go natural. I’m not doing a bunch of leg presses all the time and I’m not always doing, you know, I’m not aggressive. But, I do a little bit here and there and then I let life take care of it. There’s stairs in my life, there’s walking involved in my life through airports. So, you get your regular exercise. There’s concerts; I’m standing. You try to eat right. You stay on top of your meds. I’m diabetic, type 2 diabetes. I’ve lost some weight, which helped that a little bit. I went from a 11/12 A1C to a 7.8. You stay on top of your high blood pressure meds and try to do the things that bring you joy.
Back in the day I was an athlete, so I was aggressive with running and playing basketball and football and baseball. I was always doing something and as you get older now the knees for 15 years have stopped me from running. So now as they’re getting together that’s my desire, to be able to jog again. I’m not there yet…
Emotionally one of the things that brings me the most joy these days is going to my son’s basketball games. I’m at pretty much at every one he has and I just sit there and enjoy him, seeing him develop and being there for him, investing in him, having the talks afterwards when you have to kind of pick him up and pushing him up on your shoulders. I think he got the last buzzer beater and man, I just, I tried to hold back the tears so much that I just stood there and just like smiled but man I was ready to gush all over that place. I almost start speaking in tongues! [laughs] Embarrass myself! And I just stood there and just, I got it on tape, got it on my phone and I must’ve looked at it I don’t know how many times over and I sent it out to everybody. That right there just – you know, you have to find your moments that get you joy because I’ve been doing this for coming on now 35 years/36 years. Just taking it easy; pacing yourself .
BDO: If you were a doctor, so if you were Dr. Fred Hammond, what is your prescription for living a happy and healthy life?
FH: If I was Dr. Fred Hammond; they do call me Doc, ‘Aye Doc!’ That’s what the church say. If I was Dr. Fred Hammond I would say number one do your best to surround yourself with positive people. Emotionally, it all starts in the mind and the emotions first. Do your best to surround yourself with that. Put yourself in a position to love a lot. Be happy. Be a person that extends love. And definitely – I’m not trying to be so philosophical about it but – be as positive as you can. Think positive as you can. You call it faith in a lot of different circles, but just being positive. The glass is half full. That keeps the chemicals in your brain and in your body positive. Happiness is not just stuff and things. Just keep yourself in a positive state of mind and surround yourself with positive people. And the negative people, help them if you can but if not, keep it pushin. Be conscious of your health. I know we like to enjoy food and eat it, but be conscious about it. Get your check ups and what not. That would be my prescription.
For more inspiration, pick up I Will Trust in stores now and follow Fred Hammond on all his social media:
Fred Hammond Gets ‘Transparent’ About Life After Knee Surgery was originally published on blackdoctor.org