Tanara McCauley

Culturally Imagined Stories

Risky Embrace


I saved a life today.

Not intentionally, and not of the most precious variety, but a valuable life all the same: that of a fat, feisty lizard.

He lives in my backyard. And our relationship is…uh…complicated. (A vague adjective, missing all the negative connotations applicable to our feeble ties, but I’ll go with it.)

See, I don’t like him, but I’m glad he lives here.

He enjoys his home, but he’s no fan of me either.

So we do this little dance around each other. The steps should be fairly simple. He roams the yard at his leisure, eating bugs and diminishing the scorpion population. The backyard is his kingdom. Only when I glide onto the scene, he’s supposed to dip into the shadows.

Apparently human kings aren’t the only royal types to resist abdication, no matter how temporary.

He’s dashed past my feet a number of times while I’ve watered jalapeños or clipped rosemary. He’s perched on the wall and watched me with what I’m sure was a superior lizard scowl on his face. He even accosted guests once, running at them on hind legs with his mouth gaped wide like he’d swallow them whole. That little episode propelled my six-foot-three nephew over the fence in an amazing display of gymnastics.

Bad lizard! Bad, bad lizard!

Despite his nuisance status, I was more than a little upset this afternoon when I found him floating upside down in the pool. The sight of his sea-blue underbelly bobbing under the hot sun sent me screaming–water hose tossed aside–to fetch my husband. (Critters bring out my inner chump. Don’t judge me.)

As I waited for hubby to do the honors, it dawned on me what the reptile’s absence would mean. More bugs. Infested plants. A lost relationship.

Come again?

Apart from my awareness of Lizard’s usefulness, I didn’t realize until I thought I’d lost him that I’d grown a bit attached to the little sucker. But before I could work up a decent drift down Sentimental River, remembering with fondness how he used to bask under the morning rays (cue the music and a slow motion close-up of Lizard lifting his head to the sky), my husband brought the news.

Lizard, once scooped onto a flat pool-screen, righted himself with a fair amount of indignation, then perched on the edge to await royal transport back to land.

He’d floated motionless on his back to conserve his energy. That, and me finding him, saved his life. And I’m glad he lives.

Lizard serves a purpose here. Though I don’t always approve of how he goes about it, I appreciate the fruit of it. Less scorpions equals less danger. And he’s become a sort of wild pet, in a that-doesn’t-mean-I’ll-be-petting-him sort of way.

Sometimes the things that keep us on our toes or riled up now and again, are the very sources God uses to work good in our lives. We resent it when we really ought to give thanks for the difference it’s making.

Maybe it’s inconvenient yet improves the quality of life. (I hate that Lizard zips by and startles me, yet I love that his appetite for bugs lets my plants thrive. Thank You, God, for Lizard.)

Or perhaps the effect is more internal. (I’m terrified of reptiles–okay, any creeping thing–but I’ve grown in courage since Lizard’s been around. Thank You, God, for Lizard.)

If we learn to embrace the difficult–to be content in all situations (Phil 4:11-12)–we risk tapping into all measure of blessing and growth and depth of character God has planned for us.

And that’s a risk worth taking.

He’s still an ill-behaved, cranky, arrogant, bad, bad lizard. But he’s my lizard, and I’ve finally embraced him.

Your turn. Do you have a thing/situation in your life that’s less than ideal, but you see the benefit of embracing it?

6 responses to “Risky Embrace”

  1. Really enjoyed reading this one! I still don’t like reptiles very much, but I’m probably too ignorant to appreciate all the wonderful personalities under their grouchy faces.


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