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Soul Surfer Bethany Hamilton Finds Balance In Fitness And God
Photo by Noah Hamilton. Used by permission.
JOY AMIDST TRAGEDY – HOW WELL DOES SHE WEAR IT?
It was in 2003, only weeks after Bethany Hamilton and her mom, Cheri (portrayed by Helen Hunt in the film), prayed for God to reveal His purpose for Bethany’s life, that the young surfing champion lost her arm in the shark attack. Prayer sustained her against the odds, and she found strength in her Christian faith, her family, and her church. In less than a month, she was back in the water and on the path to return to championship form.
”It was hard at first; I think that was a natural feeling”, said Noah Hamilton, Bethany’s oldest brother. “And there was definitely some questioning: ‘God, why Bethany, she had such an amazing future, why?’ But in the hospital, when we saw that joy of the Lord in Bethany, with no self pity and grateful to be alive, that really pulled me out of despair.
And it affected others the same way. Mail began to pour into the Hamilton’s house, letters of encouragement and prayer from thousands of people worldwide. Without knowing it at first, Bethany had also become their encourager. Many of those who wrote began by telling of a seemingly insurmountable circumstance, but after hearing Bethany’s story, they found renewed hope and courage to face it head on.
Soul Surfer Bethany Hamilton: Patience is not exactly one of my virtues. Whenever I’m losing patience, I remind myself that patience IS a virtue, and one of my favorite Bible verses says, “But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete lacking nothing.” Sometimes I’ll stretch when I’m losing patience and it kills time.
BH: When the shark attack first occurred I was focused on getting better and healing. I knew that once I was able to go back in the ocean I wanted to try to surf again. I wasn’t sure of myself but I at least tried and was able to do it. Eventually I just got better and better surfing with one arm. I just kind of set my mind to compete and continue in the same route I intended before the attack. I love surfing so much. I didn’t want to quit. In my movie SOUL SURFER, it shows the struggles that my family and I went through.
Photo from Bethany’s website
BH: Adjusting to life with one arm was challenging but I think being young, I just adapted really well to it. I was creative in figuring out how to do things. Like for example – I kick a lot when paddling out surfing. So instead of just one arm to paddle, I’m kicking as well. And my dad put a handle on my surfboard to help me duck dive, which means to push the board and you underneath the wave, which you’ll see in the movie. Also, I constantly work to keep my body in balance. I’m always working with a physical therapist/trainer who gives me stuff to do every day: stretches, exercise, posture alignment, stuff to keep my spine in proper alignment, core strength and balancing. It is a matter of keeping balanced fitness throughout the whole body. Not just one thing but a large variety of exercises and such. I have a health and fitness page on my website. I’m a big fan of living healthy. I eat an organic, healthy diet. For example for breakfast, I enjoy a Sambazon acaii kale smoothie.
BH: The Bible says, “And whatever you do, do it heartily as to the Lord and not to man.”
I look at this verse and think – in whatever you’re doing – whether it be surfing or running or trusting in God, in how you treat other people – or whatever your work is, we’re supposed to do it wholeheartedly for the God. So that’s my goal no matter what I’m doing – whether physical or spiritual. As far as how my spiritual journey has transformed: I would say that as a result of learning to trust God through the difficulties in my every day, my faith has grown stronger for sure. We need to trust Him and obey Him.
Hollywood’s “A List” headlines a feature film version of Bethany Hamilton’s life-changing story of faith and courage in SOUL SURFER, a major motion picture hitting theaters nationwide April 8. SOUL SURFER brings to the screen Bethany’s thrilling, true story of losing an arm to a tiger shark attack and, with her faith, determination, and family support, returning to champion-level surfing.
SOUL SURFER, rated PG, offers something for every audience member: stunning shots of competitive surfing, touching moments of faith from a family facing tragedy, and inspiring scenes of Bethany learning that God can use her circumstances to help others.
Excitement for the project drew Hollywood’s top talent. SOUL SURFER features an all-star cast, including AnnaSophia Robb and Helen Hunt, with Carrie Underwood in her film debut, and Dennis Quaid. Quaid, who had recently faced his own near tragedy with his infant twins, joined the project after hearing Bethany tell her story on a national morning television show.
Behind-the-camera, veteran director Sean McNamara has 15 feature films to his credit, including extensive experience working with young actors including Shia LaBeouf and Hilary Duff. SOUL SURFER is based on the book by Bethany Hamilton, Sheryl Berk and Rick Bundschuh. The screen story is by Sean McNamara & Deborah Schwartz & Douglas Schwartz & Michael Berk and Matt R. Allen & Caleb Wilson & Brad Gann. The screenplay is by Sean McNamara & Deborah Schwartz & Douglas Schwartz & Michael Berk.
Photo by Noah Hamilton. Used by permission.
“We never know what life brings,” Bethany recently said. “Maybe there are some rough times for you now or in the future. I think that if you seek God first and focus on Him, you’ll be able to endure those struggles and hardships.”
Bethany’s story has touched literally millions of people worldwide. In addition to reaching out through letters and personal appearances, Bethany has told her story to national and international audiences in numerous television interviews.
SOUL SURFER the movie will take this story of faith and of finding God’s purpose through even the most challenging circumstances to a wider audience still.