I lost my left arm in a shark attack while I was surfing at age 13. I felt a sudden tug and pressure on my arm and saw a flash of gray which turned out to be a 14-foot tiger shark. I went into survival mode and began praying, “God, please help me, please get me to the beach.” I prayed this prayer many times. I was rescued and rushed to the hospital where I lost 60% of my blood. I’m thankful I made it through that day and the difficult week that followed. So many doubts, fears, and unknowns flooded my world. But I had the peace of God to carry me through. When I was recovering, I thought, Okay, God, what are you up to? But I knew God was in control and had a plan for my life. I knew something good could come out of this. I just didn’t know what that was at the time. I put my trust in God to get me through this and not let fear control my life. The hope I found as a Christian led me to overcome this, along with the amazing support of my family, the kindness of my community and having a passion for life. I had learned to surf when I was eight and had really gotten into surfing competitively. That passion I had for surfing was greater than my fear of sharks so I was determined to get back on the board. So that became my goal. Within a month, I got back in the water. After I stood up on my first wave, there was no looking back. I thought, I’m doing this even with one arm, no matter what challenges come my way. Figuring out surfing with one arm was not easy, but it was possible with some adaptations. Within two years, I won my first national surfing title. My story has gone global and has inspired and helped so many people get through the trauma and difficulties they face. Because of the hope I have in the promises of Jesus, my life has gone from tragedy into an opportunity to bring hope to others in their dark times. I have no regrets of the adversities God has allowed me to go through. If you look at me, you could think, Wow, have pity on her, she lost her arm to a shark. But I invite you to look at it as something beautiful. God has taken something awful and turned it into something incredibly amazing. I’m now a wife, mother, professional surfer and life coach to thousands of people through my Unstoppable Life courses. I wake up with joy and purpose and seek to honor God in all I do. I may fall short sometimes, but His grace is sufficient for me.
I invite you to pursue your own Unstoppable life through Christ. I’d love to help you! Visit me at bethanyhamilton.com where I post weekly blog content and join my email list. (Photo Credit: Mary Ernsdorf @rockingseaphotography)