It came, literally, out of the blue.
I had no warning at all; not even the slightest hint of danger on the horizon. The waves were small and inconsistent, and I was just kind of rolling along with them, relaxing on my board with my left arm dangling in the cool water. I remember thinking, "I hope the surf picks up soon..."
That's all it took: a split second. 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. Somehow, I stayed calm. My left arm was gone almost to the armpit, along with a huge crescent-shaped chunk of my red, white and blue surfboard...
I remember most clearly what the Kauai paramedic said to me in the ambulance: He spoke softly and held my hand as we were pulling out of the beach parking lot. He whispered in my ear, "God will never leave you or forsake you." He was right.
I believe in God. Nobody made me believe; I don't think you can or should try to force someone to believe something. And even though my parents taught me stuff about God and read Bible stories to me from as early as I can remember... it was my choice to become a believer in Him. The way I see it, putting our faith in God is something that each person has to come to on his or her own. It's your own personal relationship with Him; a bond that's as unique as a fingerprint.
Some people don't think much about this kind of stuff unless something terrible happens to them, or like my parents, until they are older. But I can remember putting my trust in Jesus Christ when I was just a kid, probably around five years old.
When people ask me what my faith in Christ means to me, I usually answer in just one word: "everything!" This was true before the shark attack as well as after. And I truly believe that this faith is a big part of what did get me through it. It helps to know that even when you don't have a clue why something has happened in your life, someone up there has a master plan and is watching over you. It's a tremendous relief to be able to put your trust in God and take the burden off your shoulders.
My plans to be a professional surfer got hit pretty hard on that Halloween morning. It was my own personal tsunami. In the days, weeks, and months that followed I had a lot of cleaning up to do. Often, it was scary or trying. And I won't lie to you: in some ways it still is. I've worked really hard to become a pro surfer, and am now competing with the best women surfers in the world.
But for me, knowing that God loves me and that he has a plan for my life, that no shark can take away and no contest result can shake, is like having solid rock underneath me. Bad things are bound to happen to everyone. That's life. Here's my advice: don't put all your hope and faith into something that could suddenly and easily disappear. And honestly, that's almost anything. The only thing that will never go away, that will never fail you, is God and your faith in him. All I can say is He gives me a really strong foundation for everything I do in life.
Find out how you can have a personal relationship with God like Bethany, click here.
Excerpts from the book Soul Surfer: A True Story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back on the Board by Bethany Hamilton, Sheryl Berk, and Rick Bundschuh. Published by MTV Books/Pocket Books. Copyright by Bethany Hamilton.