honoring Kayla

After a years-long hunt, the leader of the Islamic State terrorist group (ISIS/ISIL), Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was cornered and then killed (himself). Wikipedia describes him as follows: “Baghdadi would become directly involved in ISIL’s atrocities and human rights violations. These include genocide of Yazidis in Iraq, extensive sex slavery, organized rape, floggings, and systematic executions. He directed terrorist activities and massacres. He embraced brutality as part of the organization’s propaganda efforts, producing videos displaying mass crucifixions, sex slavery and executions via hacking, stoning, and burning.” He was a man motivated by evil.

Let us never pay more attention to evil than to good.

In that light…

The U.S. military operation tasked to find Baghdadi was dedicated to Kayla Mueller, a 26 year old woman who was kidnapped, raped, tortured, and eventually killed by the terrorist group. She had been abducted in August of 2013, with her death reported in 2015; her body has never been recovered.

While in captivity, Mueller penned the following, amazing (in my opinion) letter to her parents…

“… I wanted to write you all a well thought out letter (but I didn’t know if my cell mates would be leaving in the coming days or the coming months, restricting my time but primarily, I could only but write the letter a paragraph at a time), just the thought of you all sends me into a lot of tears.

If you could say I have ‘suffered’ at all throughout this whole experience, it is only in knowing how much suffering I have put you all through. I will never ask you to forgive me as I do not deserve your forgiveness. I remember mom always telling me that all in all + in the end, the only one you really have is God. I have come to a place in this experience where, in every sense of the word, I have surrendered myself to our creator because literally there was no one else… + by God + by your prayers I have felt tenderly cradled in free fall. I have been shown in darkness, light & have learned that even in prison, one can be free. I am grateful.

I have come to see that there is good in every situation; sometimes we just have to look for it. I pray each day that if nothing else, you have felt a certain closeness & surrender to God as well & have formed a bond of love & support amongst one another… I miss you all as if it has been a decade of forced separation. I have had many a long hour to think… I have had many hours to think how only in your absence have I finally @ 25 years old come to realize your place in my life. The gift that is each one of you & the person I could & could not be if you were not a part of my life, my family, my support. I DO NOT want the negotiations for my release to be your duty; if there is any other option, take it, even if it takes more time. This should never have become your burden.

I have asked these women to support you; please seek their advice. If you have not done so already… 

None of us could have known it would be this long, but know I am also fighting from my side in the ways I am able & I have a lot of fight left inside of me. I am not breaking down & I will not give in no matter how long it takes.

I wrote a song some months ago that says ‘the part of me that pains the most also gets me out of bed, without your hope there would be nothing left.’ aka — the thought of your pain is the source of my own, simultaneously the hope of our reunion is the source of my strength.

Please be patient; give your pain to God. I know you would want me to remain strong; that is exactly what I am doing.

Do not fear for me; continue to pray, as will I & by God’s will we will be together soon.

All my everything, Kayla”

Kayla Mueller died in captivity. In the face of evil, she found something better.

She found strength. She found faith. She was resolute. And her message is good for each of us to soberly remember now.

Rest in peace, young friend. You have wisdom beyond your age.