At a particularly challenging moment in her life, Taya Kyle, asked God to send her someone “nice” because she realized the life she planned for herself wasn’t working. Kyle determined — with the help of a minister — that the self-sufficient, independent life she was living wasn’t enough.
At the time, Kyle had no idea the man she would meet just weeks after that prayer would end up being the most lethal sniper in American history, serving multiple tours in Iraq and authoring a book, American Sniper, that would later become a movie.
Chris Kyle, who preferred to be remembered for the lives he saved rather than the ones he took, lost his own life at the hands of a fellow soldier at a North Texas gun range in February 2013.
Kyle said while her story was well-known, it wasn’t really all that different from anyone else’s. Life’s challenges and losses — sometimes seemingly insurmountable — are a commonality that brings us together, the 42-year-old mother of two told more than 1,300 people Monday at the YWCA’s 23rd annual leadership luncheon in Yakima.
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The luncheon was a benefit for the organization that offers a multitude of services for women. The YWCA also operates an emergency shelter for domestic violence victims, among other outreach efforts.
Those efforts and the support of the audience, Kyle pointed out to her listeners, have an intangible impact on the Yakima Valley.
“There is an amazing ripple effect that goes out from this room. … You may not see the end of the ripple, but I promise there’s a transfer of energy to help the community,” she said.
Kyle then went on to compare and contrast her life journey, showing how in each phase of her life — loneliness, fear, loss and finding joy again — there was someone who came in to help her. It’s the same way domestic violence victims can count on the YWCA, she said.
Her search for peace, like that of many others, started with love when she found Chris, a man she says was so much more — a good husband and father, cowboy and gentle horseman and romantic — than what people see on television. That joy was tempered by the fear caused by war that Kyle experienced as a Navy SEAL wife and, later, when her husband was killed.
Kyle said what sustained her through all that was hope. It was Kyle’s faith in God and the examples of other people who shared equally devastating loss and yet persevered, that provided her a pathway to renewal. By sharing stories, hope and words those people helped Kyle get through each day.
“I gained a lot of strength by seeing (that) the world kept on turning,” for women whose husbands had been killed, she said.
Kyle said those same people — just like people at the YWCA — also reached out to her children when she couldn’t.
“Instead of being happy that something awesome happened with my kids, my heart was breaking,” said Kyle, whose voice broke as she described interactions with her children in the aftermath of Chris’ death.
That same commitment to caring is what Kyle sees at the YWCA.
Each day women come to the facility to find hope and healing after experiencing domestic violence. They learn day-to-day skills but more importantly, Kyle says, they see other domestic violence survivors getting better and rebuilding their lives.
They learn that good always wins, but it isn’t easy, Kyle said.
“The God I believe in brings beauty through the ashes,” she said.