© Copyright 2007 by Phil Scovell - All Rights Reserved
3 I Killed My Best Friend By Phil Scovell I was born and raised in Des Moines, Iowa. Every year, my parents took us to the Iowa State Fair. As a little boy it was an amazing place to visit. The rides on the Midway, the snow cones, the hot dogs, the farm animals, the tractor pulls, the full sized replica of a cow carved from butter and displayed behind a glass refrigerated showcase, the fireworks, the balloon man, the demolition derby car races, and the special guests that always came to the Iowa State Fair defied a little boys imagination. I was only about 2 years old at the time, maybe 3 perhaps, when Roy Rogers came to the fair. Following his performance, he came around the fence and as thousands of us stuck our little hands through the wires, he shook hands. As my sister held me up, I actually got to touch his sleeve, believe it or not, and I remember it as though it were yesterday. We never spent much money at the fair because dad said everything was too expensive. Just going, however, was always a thrill because there were many free things to see. The most exciting experience I ever had at the fair became a annual tradition. We were walking down one of the sidewalks on our way to find our car and to go home, when we innocently passed a man on the sidewalk selling something. I never even paid any attention to what he was selling because, as I said, we often didn't get much at the fair. I was the closest to him and the man reached over and placed a small green lizard on my right shoulder. It had a string loosely tied about its neck and there was a safety pin tied to the other end of the string. The salesman quickly pinned the chameleon to my shirt and said, "Say little feller. That looks great on you. Wouldn't you like for your dad to buy you this little lizard as your pet? They are only a dollar. Surely your dad can afford a dollar." I had never been so excited in my life. I don't recall if I began jumping up and down but I felt like it inside. I began begging my dad like never before, or after, to please let me have him for a pet. That old sidewalk barker sure knew his stuff. There was no way my dad could say no so I went home with a little box that had a clear plastic window in the front, air holes punched in the sides of the small box, and my first chameleon lizard inside. I was in love. From then on, I was always asking how soon before the fair came back to town. "I want another lizard. Can you buy me another lizard this year, dad?" I always asked long before the fair came. I wanted to make certain dad promised to get me one. They never lived through the cold Iowa winters so I had to get a new one each summer. I soon determined that dad liked the chameleons as much as I did because he always helped me take care of them. He even got an encyclopedia out and read up on what they ate and how to care for the chameleons and that just wasn't like my dad at all. The first one we brought home, dad pinned the safety pin at the other end of the string to one of mom's artificial plants she kept in a bowl. Dad had read that the lizards lick the dew from the leaves of plants for water so he would sprinkle water on that artificial plant and we would watched the lizard lick the plastic leaves. The next year, we tried something new. With the new lizard in hand, we opened a side window, one on either side of our living room picture window, and let the lizard climb onto the screen. Pulling the window down, he could stay in their all day eating flies until he just couldn't stand it any longer. He also could not get out unless we opened the inside window so we removed his string leash. He could then climb up and down the screen as much as he desired. I played with my chameleon frequently. I would ride my bike out in the street in front of our home. It was a quiet side street and I would pin the lizard to one of my shirt pockets and stick him inside. As I would ride around, he would climb out of my pocket and up my chest until he was partially beneath my collar. On one occasion, I was riding my bike and wearing a dark rusty red shirt. That lizard changed to the deepest color of red I had ever seen before and you could hardly notice him peaking out from under my collar as I rode because his color was so much like my shirt. I experimented with the various colors my chameleons could imitate. I could get them, by placing them on different colors, to change from a very pale green to a deep dark, almost black at times, leafy green. I learned various ways to change his color from a light tan to a dark earthy umber brown. As I already mentioned, even placing him on something dark red would make him slowly change colors to almost a copperish mahogany. My dad taught me that God made them this way so they could hide from their predators. "Predators?" I said; puzzled. Dad explained that meant other animals that wanted to eat them. "Eat them? Like what," I said with some alarm. Dad explained bigger lizards, maybe snakes, and things like that. "I won't let my lizard get eaten by anything," I vowed. Every summer became more exciting than the prior. I would get a new lizard, learn more about them, and take him everywhere I went. I even took him in the car once to Kansas when mom and I drove down to see her sisters. He loved the trip and the hot weather. He especially enjoyed the Kansas flies for supper I discovered. One day, when I was still quite young, I learned my lizard could run. That wasn't the word for it. They could dark quickly from one side of the room to the other in a split second. My lizards became my number one hobby. I studied them carefully and knew how they could stay in one position for hours, if need be, their thin skin slowly changing colors to match their current environment. After remaining what appeared to be motionless for prolonged periods of time, you suddenly realized they had actually been moving closer to their prey all the time. Flicking their long sticky tongue out, they would snag an unsuspecting fly and make it disappear so fast, you could hardly believe there had even been a fly there in the first place. When I discovered how fast they could move, I took him out of the window one day without his string collar. We had gotten so we never used the string collar much any more since he lived all summer in the closed window where he could keep the window frame clean of flies and spiders for us. Getting on my knees, I would hold my lizard in my hand and slowly place him on the floor. I would speak to him and encourage him to run. Eventually, he realized he wasn't hooked to his string and he would dart across the room. I scrambled after him on hands and knees as fast as I could go. He'd stop, I'd pick him up and talk to him, and then would sit him on the floor pointing in the other direction. He eventually would dart across the room with me on hands and knees in hot pursuit. Man, was I having fun. I can remember this day as clearly as any memory in my life. It was fun watching my pet lizard darting back and forth in my mother's living room, and the fact he would let me pick him up now and hold him and talk to him was thrilling, to say the least, to a 6 year old boy. Then tragedy struck. My lizard was on the floor next to me. I was excited and encouraging him to, "1, 2, 3, go!" I had to repeat it sometimes because he didn't always run when I instructed him. Sometimes I might have to poke him gently in the side until he got the message. Bang! He shot across the room faster than ever before and I chased in on hands and knees. This time, he stopped after only a yard or so and I was going way too fast. You guessed it. I squashed my little friend flat as a pancake with one of my knees. My mother came running it to see what was wrong. She tried everything to console me but nothing worked. We couldn't go get another one because the fair had left town. I circled the outside of our house for hours crying and crying and repeating over and over again, "I killed my best friend; I killed my best friend." Few people could identify with such a story but to me, all such creatures were wonderful. Snakes, frogs, crickets, bugs of all types, minnows, small bullheads we kept in a trash can full of water, cats, dogs, horses, birds, rabbits, squirrels, butterflies, dragon flies, fish of all sizes, grasshoppers, bumble bees, honey bees, worms, caterpillars, ants, tadpoles, animals of all sizes, and just about anything else you might want to name, I liked. I liked to collect them, watch them, and see how they lived. So, when I killed my most favorite pet of all, the chameleon, I was as crushed as he was laying on that living room floor. This memory was not just mine alone; it was well known by my whole family. It was often mentioned during family get togethers and it was talked about how upset I was and how I roamed around and around the outside of our home as I cried and repeated over and over again, "I killed my best friend." This memory often came to mind, too. I never disliked it as a memory but it was the deep sorrow I felt as a little boy killing the thing that I loved so much. Still, I never thought there was anything wrong with this memory. After all, it was just a memory and it had been an accident. Then why did the memory return to my thoughts hundreds of times over the years? Recently, this memory came to mind and it dawned on me that perhaps there was something there the Lord wanted me to see. I briefly stopped what I was doing, and said, "Lord, is there something in this childhood reoccurring memory I need to know about?" I watched the memory play out in my mind. I saw the carnage I had created. I felt the hot tears, the broken heart, and the horrible disappointment that it would be an entire year before I could get another pet lizard. I let myself see the lifeless body of the tiny lizard. I watched a little broken hearted boy walk around and around the house as he cried and cried wishing his little friend could come back. Suddenly, as I viewed the memory in my mind, Jesus said in my thoughts, "How did you feel?" "Broken and alone," I said in my own thoughts woodenly. "Why?" I heard his question form in my thoughts. I knew He was not accusing me or trying to point out it was just an accident. That would not have, then, or now made me feel any better. So I looked into the memory again and saw myself in the living room and felt the revulsion of the dead body of the little lizard. In my thoughts, I whispered the little thoughts of a sadden boy, "Because I loved him." I know most reading this story won't believe what I'm about to say now nor do I care. What Jesus spoke to me at that very moment, however, broke some bondage in my life that I never knew existed and blocked the love Jesus has for me. When Jesus asked me why, I realized the pain I felt as a little boy was a golden opportunity for the Enemy to plant bad seed, that is, a lie of some kind in a little boy's thoughts. So I looked around in the memory and saw the truth for what it was. I loved my little lizard as only a little boy could. No one really cared how much I loved my pet lizard. At least I thought no one cared. When I saw what the Enemy was trying to destroy, the love a little boy had in his heart for something as ugly as a lizard, I heard Jesus say, "I loved him, too." As you read this simple child's story of how one of his pets died, and for whose death he was responsible, it would be easy to miss the point of the story. Yes, it is true that Jesus loves all his creation. How could He not as the Creator of all things. When he spoke to me as I dug into the painfulness of this memory, I saw the little boy in the living room, his pet dead at his feet, but I also saw Jesus standing to the side of that little boy, bending over and saying, "I loved him, too." He meant, of course, "I loved him, too, just like you loved him." The words Jesus spoke in my mind, however, were far beyond His love for that tiny lizard. Jesus was saying, "I love you, little boy, and I love what you love. I want to be with you. I want to do what you do. I want to be your friend. I want to love you." 17 Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love, (First John 4:17-18). A few weeks after writing this testimony, circumstances triggered some very deep pain and sorrow. I felt strongly alone and isolated. I was afraid Jesus wasn't going to come through for me. Doubts tried to darken my future, not to mention, my very relationship with the Lord. In the midst of all this grief and sorrow I was feeling, the story of my little pet lizard returned to my thoughts time and time again. In total frustration one day, I said, "Lord, if you weren't going to come through for me, why did you identify yourself with me in the memory of my pet lizard?" It was a rhetorical question because I knew the answer. You see, the Love Jesus had for me personally, in the healing of this memory, came exploding through from Jesus right into my heart, with such force, I could feel His presence both inside me and on the outside at the same time. I'll even go one step further now that I have experienced the renewing of this broken painful memory several hundred times. I can't describe it any other way. Some will disagree with what I am about to say theologically but I see the theology of it clearer now more than ever. When this memory flashes back into my mind, I not only instantly see Jesus standing next to me, which I never used to see, but I now feel something happening, too. The feeling is like a superimposing that is flashing back and forth as well as in and out. It is like flipping a coin high into the air. The images on the front and back sides of the coin change places so rapidly, you cannot see it happening but your brain tells you that is indeed what is occurring. That's right. In my experience, I suddenly and instantly am inside Jesus and then back inside myself. Then Jesus is in me and back into Himself. This happens at light speed in my thoughts but I can feel it and my brain knows it is happening. "Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit," (1 John 4:13). This is the identification experience that few Christians ever experience. I recently heard that Albert Einstein said, "There is no knowledge without experience." I was raised that feeling was to be avoided at all costs concerning our relationship with God. The Bible, the Word of God, was the only source by which to be guided. Frankly, I still believe this today but I have learned how much closer Jesus wants to be and when He gets that close, you are going to experience something. Get it? That means you will feel something no matter what anybody has told you. As I said, when the recent discouragement came, my mind immediately began searching for the cause. The picture of Jesus standing in the memory with me when my lizard died continuing flashed off and on in my thoughts. Theologically, based upon Scripture, I knew that the Lord, in all of His eternal sovereignty, wouldn't have healed this painful memory unless He had more for me. I said exactly that in my thoughts as I prayed mentally. To my total surprise, the answer I got wasn't at all what I had expected. In my thoughts, the Lord said, "You know, What? When you get here to Heaven, the first thing I am going to give you is another little green lizard." This response blew everything out of the water, sort of speak, because I realized, all Jesus was doing was reaffirming His love for me in the most spiritual intimate and simplistic of terms. In other words, He was saying, "He still loves me and to prove it, He identified Himself with me. Now, how about you. Did you know Jesus wants to identify Himself with you? Have you experienced, notice, I did not ask if you know but I said, have you experienced His love for you? It's true, you know. He is so close to you right now, He wants you to feel His presence. Yes, I know how circumstances and doubts and lies block you from feeling Him. That He can, and will, do something about. If you need help, let me know.