Is there a time in your life when you’ve almost given up? How about those times when adversity knocks you down? Do you still get up on the inside? Do you blame people, circumstances or even God if something miserable happens to you?
More often than not, when adversity knocks us down, we prefer to be alone and sit in one corner crying, self-pitying and asking: “Ano ba ‘tong nangyayari sa akin?” We start to think of people, things and situations that we can put the blame on why such misfortunes are happening to us.
We need to understand that no matter how successful we are in life, we all face struggles, problems and sometimes major adversities. Since we live in an imperfect world, we are prone to having some things that come against our will. These are situations like, a student being bullied in school, a mother who lost her baby, a father who met a car accident, a wife betrayed by her husband or perhaps you, receiving a bad report from your doctor regarding a serious illness.
We have the choice to refuse those negative words that will poison our hearts and minds. As what American President Franklin D. Roosevelt often said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
If there’s one person who should be upset, lonely and depressed, it should be American surfer Bethany Hamilton or now more popularly known as the “soul surfer.” However, instead of feeling beaten up, she did just the opposite.
One morning in 2003, Bethany, who was only 13 years old then, went out with her best friend to go surfing. Her friend’s father and brother joined them, as well. While enjoyably lying on her surfboard, out of nowhere, a 15-foot shark suddenly attacked her and (literally) ate her left arm. Yes, the shark ate up almost the whole of Bethany’s left arm leaving just the part from below her armpit. It took 20 minutes to paddle the boat before Bethany was taken out of the beach. Bethany had already lost about 60 percent of her blood when she was brought to the hospital. She stayed there for a week for full recovery.
In a “CBN News” interview, Bethany’s parents said, that the day of the shark attack, was definitely an unforgettable day for them. That sad event, according to her father, Tom Hamilton, was undeniably traumatic. He said they were clueless about their daughter’s condition, but learning that she would be brought to the hospital, he said, naturally meant Bethany was alive. He added, the only time he realized that his daughter’s left arm was gone was when he saw her faice-to-face.
Though Bethany belongs to a family of surfers, her mother Cheri Hamilton’s main concern was not about her being able to surf again, but it was more of her being able to survive and live. As for Bethany, for a while, she got frustrated for she knew surfing with just one arm was never an easy task. In the same online feature, Bethany said, “There were times when I got frustrated, but for me, I just love surfing and I was pretty determined. I think God put that determination in my heart and He knew that I would be able to handle it through Him.”
Even if she knew too well how to surf, Bethany admitted, “It’s definitely different learning how to surf with one arm.” She had to learn and get used to surfing with just one arm. “I just had to use my brain a lot and adjust and adapt with this new way of living,” she said.
How can she surf without her left arm? Imagine yourself surfing without your left arm.
Bethany was traumatized by the tragic incident, but the trauma didn’t hinder her from moving on and getting back on her feet. She decided not to let her traumatic experience rule over her life. In less than a year, she returned to her passion—surfing. No matter how difficult she went through she stayed standing up on the inside! It took her great courage!
With great determination, she went back to surfing and learned the water sport with just one arm. From then on, life was like just how she used to spend it with both her arms. Her story started to inspire many people all over the world.
The 15 foot shark that attacked her left arm left Bethany severely wounded on the outside! Since she was determined to unleash the best in her, she went back to surfing and never allowed adversity to stop her. An amazing victor’s spirit began to rise within her! It’s like getting her armor back but this time, much stronger on the inside!
Bethany’s decision not to focus on the adversity made a lot of difference! Instead of focusing on the adversity, she activated her strong faith in God. In turn, it gave her the full determination to go back to where she truly belonged— the water.
Bethany chose not to dwell on her misfortune and immediately, in just over a year since she got back to the water, she won first place in the Explorer Women’s division of the 2005 NSSA National Championships—her first-ever national title. She didn’t just get back to surfing as a hobby. She even started joining competitions.
In fact, after the shark attack, she was even blessed with more awards including the 2012 ASP Whittaker Award, King Fahd of Saudi Arabia’s Woman of the Year in 2006, Olympic Torch Honoree in 2004, ESPN Award’s comeback Athlete of the Year in 2004 and Wahine O Ke Kai (Woman of the Sea) Award at the SIMA Waterman’s Ball in 2004, to name a few.
Bethany’s experience with the shark even gave her the reason to inspire people around the world. She became popular and was admired by many people around the globe. Her life story was shown through a movie dubbed, “Soul Surfer.” This motion picture was based on the book entitled “Soul Surfer: A True Story of Faith, Family and Fighting to Get Back on the Board,” which Bethany wrote herself. She was also featured in different TV shows, and news programs online, to encourage and inspire people.
Instead of sitting in self-pity mourning about what she had lost, she was even encouraged and strengthened that the adversity turned out to be a great blessing. Bethany wholeheartedly accepted her fate. She never had any grudge against anybody else. Above all, she never questioned God.
Are you going through a difficult and dark time of your life? Perhaps someone spread bad rumors about you, mistreated you, beaten you physically and emotionally, you lost your ability to walk or lost anything of value to you. We encourage you! Never let that put you down! Get up on the inside and put your armor back! Instead of blaming people or even God with what happened to you, stay in an attitude of faith in the midst of your adversity.
Don’t wallow in self-pity! Focus on the purpose of your adversity instead, in advancing what God intended you to be! Instead of being weary and worn down, be encouraged by Bethany Hamilton who, after being beaten by a shark and swallowed her entire left arm, she remained in faith and became the source of inspiration to others.
No matter how many times you get beaten, keep standing on the inside and strengthen your faith. Be determined to unleash the highest potential God intended you to be!
Excerpted from Vic and Avelynn Garcia’s book entitled Unleash Your Highest Potential Book 1
Avelynn Regalado-Garcia is currently the Executive Vice President of Unleash International Corporation, a high-tech, high-touch, high-impact training company whose main mission is to unleash the highest potential in people towards success, happiness, and significance. For more than 20 years now, she passionately conducts seminars, workshops, conference, and conventions for top local and multinational companies, schools, and organizations in the country and abroad.
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