She lost her arm in a shark attack and nearly died, but she never lost her faith. Now a major motion picture, Soul Surfer is the moving story of Bethany Hamilton's triumphant return to competitive surfing and has continued to be a beacon of inspiration to all who hear it.
They say Bethany Hamilton has saltwater in her veins. How else could one explain the passion that drives her to surf? Or that nothing - not even the loss of her arm - could come between her and the waves? That Halloween morning in Kauai, Hawaii, Bethany responded to the shark's stealth attack with the calm of a teenage girl with God on her side, resolutely pushing aside her pain and panic while being rescued and brought back to shore.
"When can I surf again?" was the first thing Bethany asked after her emergency surgery, leaving no doubt that her spirit and determination were part of a greater story - a tale of personal empowerment and spiritual grit that shows the body is no more essential to surfing, perhaps even less so, than the soul.
To be honest, I never wanted to write a book.
It actually took a lot of convincing by my family and friends, because
I'm not someone who likes to talk a lot about myself, or thinks I'm any
big deal. But they saw something in my story that would be helpful and
interesting to others -- and they encouraged me to write it down. So
here I am. And actually, when I really thought about it, it seemed like
something that I should do. It would give a bigger picture of my faith,
my family, and all those people who have helped get me back into the
water again. But I'll tell you one thing: it wasn't easy.
It took a lot of people to help me put my thoughts on paper. First,
there was Rick Bundschuh, my spiritual advisor and a pastor in the Kauai
Christian Fellowship Church. There were certain things I just didn't
want to talk about -- certainly not to a stranger. So Rick volunteered
to do the "translating." We would sit for hours and just talk, talk,
talk. I'd pour my heart out, and he'd patiently listen, putting it all
down on paper. Then came our writer, Sheryl Berk, who helped me organize
and shape all these thoughts into fifteen chapters (who knew I had
200-plus pages in me?). When you're really close to something, it's hard
to see things as they truly were or are. So Sheryl, along with my
editor, Lauren McKenna, helped me connect the dots. They asked the
toughest questions! Stuff that really made me squirm sometimes, but
also, in the end, made me dig a little deeper and really be honest with
myself and you. In the end, I'm really proud of what we've written here.
I think it's truthful, and I hope it inspires and motivates people to
tackle any obstacles in their lives. I hope it helps people find faith
in God and in their own strength and ability. I hope it motivates
someone going through a tough time right now to keep on fighting until
they rise above it. You can and will get through it. I'm living proof
that where there's a will, there's a way.
What I don't want is for people to pity me or think of me as a person
who has had her life ruined. That's not how I see it. My mom is always
saying, "If life hands you lemons, make lemonade." Which is a great
outlook on life, if you can actually see beyond the lemons when you're
up to your eyeballs in them! My strength came from my relationship with
Christ and from the love and encouragement of my family and friends.
In a lot of ways I'm like any fourteen-year-old girl, and in a lot of
ways, I'm not. If someone had told me that this is how my life would be,
I would have never believed it. It would have seemed too bizarre to be
true. Sometimes it still is. I often dream that I have both my arms
again, and I wake up expecting the whole shark business to be a
nightmare. But it's not. It's my reality now, and I've learned to accept
it. I've moved on.
I don't pretend to have all the answers to why bad things happen to good
people. But I do know that God knows all those answers, and sometimes He
lets you know in this life, and sometimes He asks you to wait so that
you can have a face-to-face talk about it. What I do know is that I want
to use what happened to me as an opportunity to tell people that God is
worthy of our trust, and to show them that you can go on and do
wonderful things in spite of terrible events that happen. I don't think
it does any good to sit around feeling sorry for yourself. I made myself
a promise: I'm not going to wallow or walk around moaning, "Woe is me!"
One other thing you should know: this book really doesn't have an ending
yet because I am still learning how to cope every day. I'm not talking
about learning how to button my top with one hand. I'm talking about
coping with being a celebrity, something I never imagined that I would
have to deal with at the age of fourteen. Or coping with people's
stares, either because they recognize me, or because they are not used
to seeing a person with one arm running down the beach. Or coping with
answering endless questions from the media and seeing my face in
newspapers and magazines. I'm also learning to cope with the frustration
of knowing that if I had both arms to paddle, I just might have done a
little better in a surf contest that I have just been in.
I am excited about some of the opportunities to travel and surf all
around the world that have come as a result of my attack and return to
surfing. But most of all I am excited about what the future holds. Will
I make it to the pro ranks in surfing? Will my lifelong friend and surf
buddy, Alana, be paddling next to me in the years to come as she is now
and was during the attack? Will I be able to make a difference, in some
small way, in people's lives by sharing my story?
What does God have in store for me? I really don't know, but I do know
one thing for sure: the adventure has only started.
Copyright © 2004 by Bethany Hamilton
Excerpted from "Soul Surfer: A True Story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back on the Board" by Bethany Hamilton. Copyright © 2006 by Bethany Hamilton. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.