Eugene Scott aboard the USS Kitty Hawk circa 1975

Where to Find your True Identity? Go Back to the Womb

Reading Time: 6 minutes

A high school friend showed up at my front door one day dressed exactly like me, white t-shirt, boot-cut, button fly Levis, and brown hiking boots. He pulled a harmonica from his jeans pocket and said, “I’m going to learn to play just like you!”

Poor guy. 

Eugene circa 1970

Of all the people he could idolize, he chose me! I didn’t play harmonica well. And my James Dean, Jack Kerouac persona was hardly original.  

Since then I’ve seen most of us are in hot pursuit of our true identity. And most of us don’t know where to find it.

Who are you, really?

Designed to Idolize

Though showing up at the front door of your idol may be a bad idea, trying on various identities is not. We all do this. The task is to make better choices than my unfortunate mini-me. 

Psychologist Erik Erikson asserted it’s part of our natural process of becoming.

God designed us this way. Children gain most life skills through mimicking and modeling. The mastery of the complex use of language is solely mimicry. 

Hub cap collection in western Kansas

“Be yourself. Everyone else is taken,” is popular philosophy. Yet ferrel children raised without significant human interaction don’t become themselves. They lose all capacity to know what it means to be human.

Our original God-blueprint includes acute awareness of the other. This design element allows us eventually look from an admired human to our Creator for our God-designed identity. Especially when the admired human fails us! Without that we drown in our own watery images like Narcissus.

Thus looking to others for identity is intended to lead us to ask God about our ultimate identity. Or it should.  

The Lost and Found of Identity 

Much identity hunting arises from the crisis of losing your heart, the nacent identity God formed in you in the womb. 

In Part One of this blog I wrote about how David, ancient king of Israel, traded in his God-created shepherd-king identity for a culturally malformed power-king identity.

The results were tragic: manipulation come adultery come murder.

Faceless portrait

 What’s Your Original Face?

Though we may not have experienced such a drastic heart loss, our modern identity crisis is like David’s. Ours too is about recovering lost original identities.

Looking for your “original face” Van Morrison calls it in his song “Before the World Was Made.” Morrison poetically suggests God created us each with an original face or divine design. 

Before the world was made

God With You in the Womb

David knew where to look to find his original face. He turned his gaze from other kings, warriors, and men and journeyed back to the womb.

In his vulnerable, honest prayer in Psalm 51 David confessed:

Surely I was sinful at birth,

    sinful from the time my mother conceived me.

Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;

    you taught me wisdom in that secret place.

David recognized the very presence of God with him in the womb. Psalm 139:

If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. . . .

For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my
mother’s womb. . . .

My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the
secret place.

David poetically went back to the womb to learn that, despite being born, as we all are, tainted by human sin, God created him and nurtured him as an embryo. This is how David began to recover his heart.

How do you make the same journey?

Eugene Denver circa 1977

Talk with God About Your Identity

David’s psalms were honest conversations with his Creator. These conversations started by admitting he had become someone God did not intend him to be. 

Each time I’ve made a turn from false self to true self it has begun with this confession. Admitting it to God was admitting it to myself and vice versa.

As a poetic, emotional, verbal male I tried and failed to live up to the rock-hard, quiet, male stereotype. Finally, pouring my heart out to God, I realized I am fearfully and wonderfully made. God made me a man who loves hunting, fishing, trucks, dirt, building things, poetry, reading, creativity, art, ambiance, emotions, and conversation.  

Where mimicry of others falls short, our yearning for true self ushers us to the True God. 

Eugene Denver 2021
Wearing a jean jacket I’ve had since 1976

Then Ask God to Restore and Renew You.

  Again Psalm 51:      

Create in me a pure heart, O God,

    and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation

    and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

David asked God to restore and renew him to being a shepherd-king. Return him to his roots. But not just to the roots of who God made him but to the roots of who God is: A Shepherd.

What David discovered is stunning. Because each of us is an image bearer of God, our identities, our true selves, reflect God. When I found my original face, I learned like me, God too is a poet and lover of dirt.

Your true self also reflects God. 

antique binoculars

Look to God’s Original Design.  

A rich vein of self discovery flows from our relationships. From the youngest age I was sought out as a conversationalist and counselor by my friends. “You listen well and you have a way with words,” many said.  

Sometimes though, we have to pry positive truth from a negative recognition.

“Get your nose out of that book!” my mom demanded of this born bookworm and future writer. 

While overhauling a car engine with my dad, in exasperation over my dislike for grease and oil on my hands Dad said, “You’re going to end up behind a desk someday.” 

Icons of my identity

I spent years trying to become a man of wrenches like Dad rather than a man of words like God invented me to be. I joined the Navy to be trained as a mechanic. I’m not bad with tools; I’m just better with words. And I love them more. And they’re not covered with oil and grease. Shame about not measuring up to those expectations long stole my heart. But when I looked to God’s design, I caught a breath-taking glimpse of my true face. 

I often think of my ninth grade nemesis and mini-me. I’ve progressed from feeling sorry for him to recognizing I was and am more like him than I ever wanted to admit. My search for my true self has led me down many false roads. My high school dream of playing harmonica in a blues band? I know now my musical gift is limited to listening. And that’s okay. As my friends told me long ago, God made me a very good listener.

How about you? Who did God create you to be? I’d like to hear about it.  

Becoming a Papa

Some of these photos are self portraits but others were taken by friends and family

7 thoughts on “Where to Find your True Identity? Go Back to the Womb”

  1. Georgie Ann Kettig

    it was very recently that I had the thought ~ amidst all the seemingly perpetual argument(s) and confusion(s) of these conflict-laden “modern times” ~ that people have forgotten to “stop and ask themselves” the very simple and important existential question of “Who am I?”,… (not that finding the deep and satisfying “answer” to that question is always so very simple),…

    I graduated high school in ’64 and college in ’68, so those personal developmental years were occurring during a decade that was moving from ’50s-Americana, through “Beatlemania” and the British invasion, and then opened the doors to all kinds of non-’50s-Americana influences, which included “Jesus Freaks”, “Woodstock” stuff, and bookstores filled with all kinds of non-traditional topics and ancient “esoteric” wisdom(s), including astrology, various ancient-world “theologies” and mythologies, and also “meditation”,… happily for me, I was more of a questioning and reserved, intellectual “observer-at-large”, than someone who would get “down and dirty” with the inebriated crowds,… although I knew some who did, (and they, and their “scene”, didn’t appeal to me!),…

    I had been raised by idealistic parents, from Christian backgrounds (but who weren’t really “practicing”), so lots of possibilities were “on the table” for exploration and discernment, at that time in my life,… I found a group that was led by mostly European influencers, who were themselves influenced by G.I. Gurdjieff (and P.D. Ouspensky), who were attempting to bring the “wisdom of the Sufis” to the Western world,… and it was there that I was introduced to “meditation”,…

    and I’ve “said all that to say this”, that it was in this kind of silent (and sometimes “guided”) meditation, that I also learned to seriously (and deeply) ask the question, “Who am I?”,… I am grateful to have come “in touch” with something, a reality, deep within, that anchors my soul, that preserves my sanity, that doesn’t need to “be important”, or strive for “world dominance”, or point fingers and attitudes at everything that moves in contradictory ways,… it is “more than good” to “be at peace” in the midst of turmoil,… I can only hope that the “proverbial pendulum” will swing once again, to bring a reconciling effect on the chaos that now flaunts its “arrogance”, opinions and judgments, and hatreds and resentments, against so many “others”, when the “answers” lie deep within our own selves,…

    so, this is where my early “serious existential search for personal meaning-in-life” began,… (and it was a “pretty cool thing” to be doing in those days, btw ~ I was very blessed!),… it did lead me directly to Christ, eventually, and I’m glad to report that I am “a very happy camper” in the quest for “identity, purpose and meaning” to be found in this life and beyond!,… thank you & God Bless!,… (-:

    1. Georgie Ann: Thank you for sharing your story. Are you writing down these puzzle pieces to who you are and how God has been with you through life for your family and friends? You should. And I am so glad you found who you are in Christ. I enjoy your rich wisdom.

      1. Georgie Ann Kettig

        Eugene,… it seems that the “puzzle pieces” were introduced to me, as I passed through “life” on the terms and experiences that it was presenting to me/us, at the time,… I believe that I was (barely consciously, and definitely unconsciously) sincerely “searching for the meaning of life”, which may have been one of the prevalent themes that was tantalizingly floating around in the “early-Disney-and-newly-hippie-themed culture” of those days,… as a matter of fact, I can distinctly remember observing silently to myself at my high school graduation (where I was the “valedictorian”!), that I hadn’t really found “the meaning of life” yet,… and oddly enough, this inward thought was repeated at my college graduation, as well (and there I was nowhere close to being a valedictorian),… so, there I was, emerging (supposedly “successfully”) from the best secular educational forums “of the day”, and still puzzled by why I didn’t understand “the meaning of life”, yet,… it did feel like an oddly bizarre way to begin “the rest of my life, my future” ~ like launching a boat on the ocean with no compass or definite destination,… but “what are you going to do?” ~ the sun rises every day, and you have to get up and “keep on keepin’ on”,… but in the background of “doing daily life”, there were now a lot of “unspoken question marks”,…

        perhaps some people, who had “defined roots” in various long-standing religious traditions, might have been offended or “put off” by all the (what we called) “eastern” and ancient “mystical” traditions that were being “introduced” on a fairly large scale into our western culture at that time,… as an emerging young adult, I guess I thought that these things were of an eternal quality, and would be around with us “forever”, but to tell the truth, they were more like a passing “popular” fad, culture-wise, similar to the many “things” that come-and-go in our media-driven “temporary popular king-making” scenarios,…

        I detected intellectual integrity, sincerity and dedication in the group that was studying the Gurdjieff-Ouspensky spiritual “methods” at that time,… the “Sufi traditions” were described by them as actually being “esoteric Christianity”, so I didn’t think I was doing anything apart from Christianity, although it wasn’t in the form of a mainline tradition,…

        I would say the main focus was “inner work and awareness”,… a lot of emphasis was put on simplifying the outer involvements of “doing life”, in order to conserve energy and focus for “remembering” our “inner life”, which was considered to be “spiritual” and presumed (at least by me) to be connected to God/ Christ,… a lot of “quietness” was involved, gentleness in “prayer”/meditation, some “guidance and teaching”, but nothing similar to the popularized “yoga exercises, mantras, etc”,… I would call it “inner listening and spiritual search”,… and I think a “novice” would (be humble and) presume a long-term investment would be leading to eventual growth and increased understanding of the “inner awareness journey”, not unlike what one might be looking for in a monastery-type situation or “extended retreat” ~ poignant, but undefined, inner spiritual reality,…

        so, I guess that (fairly unusual) beginning helped to “set my compass” as far as what I was looking for and hoping to find “in Christ”,… in time, and in other places, more typical Christian forms were encountered and incorporated, such as “local bible studies”, Church music and services, etc,… so, it seems that now, instead of looking ahead (in that “young adult” nascent and unformed “faith”) with all those undefined “question marks” lurking about, I am beginning to look back from the more current (“old lady”) vantage point, to describe and incorporate those beginning steps that have apparently deeply molded and influenced the way Christ has formed “himself” in me,…

        and to continue this compact retrospective in integrity, I must give a very special shout-out to my sweet maternal grandmother, Ina Viola Fortney Cason, who very quietly read to me from little prayer books with illustrations for children, an activity that my mother would not have been very happy about ~ (the “modern secularism” was definitely trying to derail my developing “spiritual perception”),… in fact, much much later, as I would listen to television evangelists preaching about “salvation” and “getting saved”, I was earnestly praying to understand “what a Christian was” and if I was “born again”,… suddenly, a “bright Light” went on in my mind ~ and I almost laughed out loud, because I then “knew” that I had “been one of those (believers)” ever since my childhood “down south”, sitting at my grandmother’s knee, hearing the prayers about Jesus, the Lord,…

        so, yes, talk about “puzzle pieces”!,…our faithful God does work in “wondrous ways”, even when we don’t quite know what is going on,… but He does,… it can be confusing, because “the Truth” is spiritually discerned, and not all things before us, that claim to be “truth”, are,… in fact, the “darkness of this world” will try to keep us from His Light (and His Light from us!),… but He knows, and guides and protects “His own”,… so, we have “nothing to “fear”,… I love Him for this!,… & thank you for letting me write about this, Eugene!,… (-:

        1. You’re welcome. Thank you for being such an intelligent, thoughtful and faithful reader–and friend.

          I often tell people who have similar stories about exploring faith and coming to Christ as yours that they have been believers for a while. They just hadn’t named it. The Jesus movement of the early 70s convinced us that life with God always came on sudden and dramatically. But even though it seemed that way with me, I now have to look and see God’s finger prints on many days of my life before I became a Jesus Freak.

          1. Georgie Ann Kettig

            yes ~ I think God was very “directly active” in individual/personal and supernatural ways during those “Jesus Freak” days,… they were wonderful,… I have many memories/stories of actual moments of “spiritual visitation” type(s) of experiences (and I was no “druggie”!) that would “open” a blessed dimension of perception and connection with “the beyond” which was undeniably transcendent, glorious and amazing/awe-inspiring,… usually, I would be alone and outdoors,… my heart must have been “seeking/hoping” for truer/deeper meaning in life,… one very special time, after feeling very powerfully “visited”, I even heard the words spoken to me ~ “you carry the Christ in your heart”,… I did mention this to one respected person, who kind of pooh-poohed it, so I rarely spoke of these things to anyone,…

            in my opinion, it would be a wonderful thing if God would/could begin doing these things again “in this hour”,… in a great “hour of human need”,… “speak again” directly to our youth,… raise up a revival in our time of greatest need and imposing cultural darkness,… “revive us in spirit and truth, O Lord!”,…

          2. Georgie Ann Kettig

            lol,… I think the things that I’ve been “remembering” here, are pretty much “saying” that I’ve always basically been “a (spontaneously-arisen) Jesus Freak”,… perhaps that is why I have felt a kinship with your blog, since you acknowledge that connection as well,…

            I was also around many strong and varied expressions of Christian faith and worship, over the years, ~ usually “Word of Faith” and “Spirit-filled”, as well as Charismatic Catholic,… I guess I’m “just an old lady” now, trying to pull it all together in my mind, heart and memories,…

            I’ve seen other evidences recently, that this is something that seems to come naturally to people, as they age,… they say that in younger brains, there are many different and separated areas where “experience(s) and information” are gathered, processed and stored, but these circuits do not remain as numerous, diverse and divided from each other, as time goes on,… there is some kind of consolidation that is happening in the older brain,… I think I can feel like that is something that is trying to go on here, with the way my thoughts are “being led” to delineate and also “tie things together”,… (-:

            & thanks for giving me a place to do so!,… for me, my “life of faith” has apparently had its own “personal wave-length” that has persisted alongside the various “ups and downs, joys and sorrows and challenges” of what we call “our earthly life”,… my impression now is that the faith-life is always wanting to “hang in there” and “grow stronger”, whether or not the “circumstances” that we find ourselves in seem to be cooperating,… but they are, because we are,…

          3. I’m not sure who said it but they called what you are talking about as congruence, wholeness. Maybe that is a touch of God’s salvation.

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