Don't let a shark stop you

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Bethany Hamilton inspired the world after losing her arm in a shark attack. 

I recently watched the movie Soul Surfer.  Have you seen it?  Did you love it?  It has been on my "to see" list since I first heard about it, but if I had known what a great movie it was then I would not have waited this long to see it. 

Bethany Hamilton was only 13 years old when her faith was tested and she was called out to be a role model.  She grew up on the beach and spent her days surfing the waves.  She was amazing on that surf board and had just gotten her first sponsor as she worked towards her life's dream of becoming a professional surfer. 

Already a rock star in the surfing world and well on her way to achieving one of her life's goals, Bethany always remembered to thank God and her family every step of the way.  That single act right there - thanking God - already makes her a role model, but there is more...

On October 31, 2003 Bethany's arm was bitten off by a 15' tiger shark.  She lost 60% of her blood that day, and it's a miracle that she lived to tell her story.  She pushed through recovery with dreams of getting back on that surf board.  Eight months after that shark attack she competed in a surfing competition once again.  EIGHT MONTHS!  That's unbelievable.

Bethany Hamilton, at 13 years old, did not give up when things got rough.  Life as she knew got hard, but she worked harder.  She practiced like crazy and taught herself how to surf with just one arm.  She fell down a lot, but she always got back up.  She pushed through the physical pain and the emotional pain and she came out on top.  Today Bethany is 21 years old and she is a professional surfer.  When it seemed as though she would have to choose a new path in her life she looked to the bible and reminded herself "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

Bethany's story is one of survival, strength, and perseverance, but her story is also about being a role model to others and living your life fully aware that people are looking up to you.  She knew that people were watching her, looking to her for guidance and strength, and she continues to keep those people in mind as she lives her life. 

We are all a role model to someone, and there is no way we will ever know everyone that looks to us for guidance in their own lives.  I think about people I look up to and many of them have no clue they serve as a role model for me.  People I admire and keep in my thoughts as I strive to a better person, as I push myself outside my own boundaries, as I work my way through life. 

Someone is looking at you as a role model.  That is a big responsibility, and no you can't turn down the job.  It is a job you will have for your entire life and it will often go without thanks, or even acknowledgement.  At times you will fail, but you will be given another chance and it is up to you to make up for previous losses and continue to grow.  You will succeed and you will make a positive difference in someones life. You are a role model - live your life in a way that is worth repeating.

I believe that everything happens for a reason.  If Bethany's arm had not been bitten off by that shark then most of the world still wouldn't know about this amazing girl.  Sure, she would have touched many lives through surfing and mission trips with her church, but would I (or you) have ever heard of her?  Because of a shark bite I learned about an amazing girl named Bethany, and she is one of my role models. 

Learn more about Bethany on her website.  Rent Soul Surfer at Redbox. 


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