Oh my goodness! I’m so excited for today’s girl power post! Bethany Hamilton is definitely someone you think of when you think of girl power. She’s someone I’ve wanted to write about since the beginning. Her story is one of amazing perseverance and incredible faith – and it has a happy ending, too! Well, actually, her story isn’t over! She’s still continuing to influence the world today!
Bethany Hamilton was born in 1990 on the island Kauai. Both her parents were surfers and Christians. Bethany grew up in a home that loved surfing and loved Jesus. By the age of 13, she was already an awesome surfer and was being sponsored by Ripcurl. Then on Halloween of 2003, Bethany’s life was changed forever.
On October 31, 2003, the day started just like any other for Bethany Hamilton. She got up, got dressed, and was ready to surf. She decided to go surfing with her friend Alana Blanchard and Alana’s dad and brother. They drove to Tunnels Beach, Kauai. Bethany paddled out in the water, looking for a wave. She never saw it coming.
Bethany Hamilton was attacked by a shark. She was floating on her surfboard with her left arm dangling in the water when a 14-foot tiger shark decided it was hungry. Bethany lost her entire left arm up to her shoulder. She never even saw the shark. About the attack, Bethany says, “I felt a lot of pressure and a couple of lightning fast tugs. Then I watched in shock as the water around me turned bright red.”
Bethany was rushed to a hospital. By the time she got there, she had lost 60% of her blood. The doctors weren’t sure she would live. But Bethany was tougher than that. She fought hard to recover, and soon went home. While in the hospital, Bethany learned that if she had lost her shoulder as well, there was a tiny chance she would have survived. Already she began to see God working in her life, protecting her.
In the weeks that followed the attack, Bethany struggled. She learned there were some things she would no longer be able to do, ever again, and many things became harder. Even the simple task of dressing herself became a challenge. Bethany also struggled with God. The question that would keep her awake at night was “Why?” She couldn’t understand how a loving God could let something so horrible happen to her. She thought her passion, the thing she loved to do most, had been taken from her. Bethany dreamed of becoming a professional surfer, and she thought she might never get back on her board.
Even through these hard times, Bethany held tight to the faith that kept her going. She continued to trust God with her life and knew that He had a plan for her. Sure enough, God was using her to tell a story.
Bethany got back on her board. It was the day before the doctor said she could surf again. She ended up realizing her dream of becoming a professional surfer, and is now one of the world’s most recognized sports figures. But how did this happen?
Bethany wrote a book, titled Soul Surfer that described her experience, faith, and journey, which was published in 2004. It was a huge success. In 2011, a movie based on the book, also called Soul Surfer, was released. Bethany Hamilton has said that because of the shark attack, she has been able to reach more people with her story of faith, trust, and never giving up than she ever would have with two arms. It was all part of God’s plan. She trusted in it, and that took courage. That’s girl power, for sure!
P.S. Here are some pictures from when I got to see Bethany Hamilton live! It was super cool! She was really genuine and down to earth. It was very inspiring to hear her talk about her life and personal experience, especially her relationship with God.