A short time ago while in the clutches of desolation, I thought about changing my name back to my pre-adoption name. My adopted name is Montoya. My birth name was Hogue. I was adopted at the age of four, so the Montoya name has been mine for over six decades.
Why did I want to change my name? One of the enemy’s tools used in desolation is the tool of mean memories. Mean memories are those events in our personal history that bring us pain, sorrow, and at times regret. The name Montoya is perceived as a Hispanic surname. I am not Hispanic. When people meet me, see the blue-eyed, once blond now gray-haired person I am, and hear my name is Montoya many ask, “Montoya, what nationality is that?”
Usually, when asked this question, I find the person asking often has a prejudice against Hispanic people. Once, while in Bible college, I was supervising a cleaning crew when I walked up on two new student workers I had not met. I heard one say to another, “The name of our boss is Montoya. I cannot believe I am going to have to work for a wetback.” I introduced myself and both students’ faces turned red.
In the last church, I served (in a small town on the edge of West Texas) the prejudice was so strong that no one in the church came to meet me at the district meet and greet we had. I quickly found out that the prejudice in this church was so strong that they could not stand to have a pastor with a perceived Hispanic surname. This church made my life a living hell for two years. I could give many more instances where I faced hostility due to my last name. These are all mean memories.
I am so thankful for Ignatius fifth rule of discernment: Fifth Rule, in time of desolation never to make a change; but to be firm and constant in the resolutions and determination in which one was the day preceding such desolation, or in the determination in which he was in the preceding consolation.
The enemy is always trying to get us to believe we are shameful, guilty, and worthless. No matter how strong our faith, the enemy can get us to think this way. I know this aspect of desolation all to well. When I came to my senses and realize why I would even consider changing my surname I knew what was happening.
Yes, I have faced difficulties because of my last name. Yes, dealing with prejudice towards one’s person is a painful process. Still, my last name was given to me by a father who tried his best to love me, an adopted son. Also, I have come to appreciate the culture from which this name came. The Hispanic people have a rich heritage. They are some of the most hard-working and compassionate people I have ever met. I have every reason to be proud of my name. I am not about to let the enemy win this battle.
Prejudice is a poison. It is a sickness of the heart and mind, a cancer of the soul. It is perhaps the antithesis of the command our Lord gives us to love our neighbor. I fully understand that as love grows colder, I will likely face this ugly mindset again and again. However, our Lord has given me the power to choose how I deal with such enmity. I choose to claim, my name is David Montoya and I have been claimed by Christ. I know the enemy hates to hear that!