As many of you have seen, Lauren and I have started going by the last name Blake. I avoided putting out a blog post or social media post about it in attempt to not make it a big deal. But recently have realized that after over 12 years of ministry and living all over the country, it might be make more sense to bite the bullet and explain—why the change? A friend was joking with me saying that it looks like we entered a witness protection agency, haha! So here it goes . . .
As some of you know from hearing my story, the name Lutz was not my birth last name. It was Nebes until around age 10. Nebes was my birth father’s last name, and he was only in my life for a short time after birth (that’s another story for another day). When my mom remarried, she became a Lutz and had my younger brother and sister. Then when my stepdad adopted me, I then took on the last name Lutz (at this point my birth father was not any part of my life).
I was always grateful to be a Lutz, some of my greatest memories were spending every Sunday at my Grandma Lutz’s house with our whole family, playing games in the basement and back yard, eating all the mountains of food, and watching sports. My Grandma Lutz was one of the best ladies around and always made me feel the same as every other blood-related grandchild she had. It really was a gift God gave her—she made everyone always feel like family in her home. My stepdad also always provided for me, and I will always be grateful for that. Even in this current phase of life, he has continued to provide and help me in any way that he can. Last year, when I put a Mitre Saw through my hand while putting in new flooring, he didn’t hesitate to get in the car drive three hours each way and work from sun up to sun down to help finish the floor in the kitchen so we could get our appliances installed. He’s always been a hard worker and taught me to work hard for what I had.
He and my mom have been there for me and my family and our love for each other grows stronger as the years go on. When I was young, there were a lot of trials that followed the divorces and remarriage. Having three step siblings and two half siblings with me right in the middle of it provided some challenges growing up. It was challenging for everyone—taking on new titles like step-brother, step-sister, half-sister, half-brother, step-father, step-mother, step-son. I was the only one who wasn’t related to my stepdad, and I don’t think anyone ever tried to treat me differently, but the reality was that I was different. Anyone who has lived through the aftermath of divorce knows of the trials and pain that come with it. Later in life I carried the weight of that pain and I was angry and bitter for the hand I was given and for some of the things that happened. Today, when I think about my last name, I remember my Grandma Lutz and all of the good memories with the family, but there are also deep wounds that naturally come from a broken home. And I think about my real dad too.
I carried all of this pain until age 20 when I finally gave it all to God. I forgave many of the people not only in my life but also apart from me—and began to move on. Finally some things in my life started to heal, but the scar was still there. Then two months before my son was born I received a phone call that in many ways changed my life. It was my sister—a sister who I had never met or talked to that lived in Chicago. We talked for an hour just getting to know each other and at the end of the conversation, she encouraged me to talk to my dad, and I immediately hesitated. A couple weeks later another phone call came, the first words that came through the phone were, “Brent, this is your dad and I’m so sorry.” That phone call completely altered my life. I broke down, released things that had held me back, and a man who had never been a part of my life now was back in front and center. (A side note) From as early as I can remember I had sleep problems, anxiety, night terrors, sleep walking, and vivid dreams. All the way up into my early marriage I would have night terrors and sleepwalk. But from the day my dad apologized to me over the phone and on going I have not had one sleep issue—almost six years an counting.
For the last seven years of our marriage, Lauren and I have considered changing our last name. Especially after connecting with my dad, the issue has become more about identity. Yes, I understand a name is just a name. But for me it’s the name I will give my kids, it’s how I see myself, and it carries a lot of meaning. Blake is my mom’s maiden name. It’s the name of the family who raised me when my mom was single and on her own with me. It’s the last name of my grandfather and uncles, who all three are heroes in my life (I truly believe I have the best grandpa and two of the best uncles of anyone on the planet), the Blake side of my family is always the family that my soul felt the most at home with over the last 33 years of my life—it’s who I really am. This doesn’t make me any less grateful for the life my stepdad provided for me, the family it gave me, and the memories I will always cherish. But for me it was always a little bit of a split in my soul.
With Anchor launching, us moving to a new city and making new friends, and our children finally starting school, Lauren and I began to have the conversation about our last name. It became a now or never type of thing. I remember how hard it was to change my name as a kid in school and I never want my kids to have to go through that if we decided to do it later on in life. Ultimately we landed that it was the right time to change our last name to Blake, and it wasn’t an easy decision at all. One thing that was important to me was sitting down with my mom and stepdad to explain why, and it was one of the hardest conversations I’ve ever had. The last thing I wanted was to hurt anyone (immediate or extended family). It’s honestly one of the reasons we put it off for seven years. So I sat down explained what we wanted to do and why. It naturally stirred up some emotions, but it was the right thing to do. It doesn’t change how I feel about my stepdad, mom, Lutz family, extended family, or siblings (my younger brother is still my best friend in life—Jake Lutz). It doesn’t change how grateful I am to have that family in my life and my kids don’t know any difference and they still love their grandpa (a lot). At the end of the day it was just something we needed to do.
The full circle of this long blog post is that God in this season of my life has not only fully restored me and my identity, but he has restored my family. I have a great wife and two amazing kids who love their families and each other, and I have a sister in my life for the last five years who I never had before, I have a great mom who has sacrificed a lot for me over the years and loves me deeply, I have not one dad but two dads now in my life that I can go to for advice and love my family—God has given me what I never thought I would have and my soul finally feels at rest in my identity. I’m grateful for the Lutz family and nothing changes with them being family to me. God is in the redeeming business and he has redeemed so much for my whole family—the Lutz’s, the Nebes’s, and the Blake’s. It's a new season and I'm grateful for all of the family God has given our family.
Thanks for reading.