Veteran’s Day file photo: (CNS photo/Jonathan Ernst, Reuters)
By Tony Rossi, Director of Communications, The Christophers
“I’ve learned that when God promises beauty through the ashes, He means it.” So says Taya Kyle, the widow of Navy SEAL and Iraq War veteran Chris Kyle. Best known as the “American Sniper” because of his best-selling book and the movie about him, Chris and his friend Chad Littlefield were murdered on February 2, 2013, by a veteran they were trying to help.
Despite the sadness and bitterness that linger from her loss, Taya’s belief in God’s goodness remains strong as she focuses on being the best mom possible to her son and daughter, while also preserving Chris’s legacy by helping other military families—a mission that’s especially important as we once again commemorate Veteran’s Day.
During a recent interview on “Christopher Closeup,” Taya recalled that over 10 years of marriage, she and Chris endured ups and downs, but they were determined to make it work. They defied the statistic that 90 percent of marriages of Navy SEALS end in divorce. Taya even survived the stress of worrying whether her husband would be killed while serving his country overseas—only to have it happen after he was back home.
She said, “I think that God prepared me for Chris’s death in some ways, because I’ve seen other people lose their spouses. I’ve known for a long time that life isn’t fair. So I wasn’t angry with God that I lost my husband. I was devastated, I was broken. I still am, in many ways. But I feel like God gives free will to everyone, and people who want to choose evil have that same free will. So the guy who murdered Chris and Chad…he made that choice. What God says is that, ‘Free will is there, things will happen, but I’ll be by your side, and I will bring beauty through it.’ That doesn’t mean God wanted [the bad thing to happen], but He’ll change lives through it, anyway. He’ll take the bad, and change it to good for somebody.”
Some of that beauty emerged in the way Taya’s friends rallied around her after Chris’s murder. She said, “My one friend and her husband got a babysitter for their three kids so they could be at my house, washing dishes and staying until 11:30 at night. She and another girlfriend did my kids’ laundry—stuff that I wouldn’t have thought about in that moment. Those are things that are seared into my mind.”
Taya has taken that idea of helping others to a new level through her efforts with the Chris Kyle Frog Foundation (the frog being the symbol of the SEALS), which was founded by her husband. As it states on their website, “The pressures that come naturally with carrying out service to our country can lead to a negative ripple effect among family units, which flows into the communities within which they serve, work and live. The aim of the Chris Kyle Frog Foundation is to provide meaningful, interactive experiences to service members, first responders and their families, aimed at enriching their family relationships.”
Looking back on her own relationship with Chris, Taya feels grateful that they appreciated the simple things. She said, “We knew that just being together was a gift because it’s something we hadn’t always had. Being able to tuck our kids in bed together and pray with them. That was a gift. Those simple pleasures were something that we didn’t overlook, and I certainly don’t overlook them now.”
For a free copy of the Christopher News Note, OPENING YOURSELF TO GOD’S GRACE, write: The Christophers, 5 Hanover Square, New York, NY 10004; or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org