Sometimes difficult situations and challenging circumstances pull us down. And, when they do, it’s easy to get discouraged and want to quit, isn’t it? Maybe that’s where you are right now.
But, friend, did you know that you can rise above what tries to take you down? It’s true—through Christ’s strength, you can be unstoppable!
In this episode of the 4:13 Podcast, professional surfer, author, and motivational speaker, Bethany Hamilton, is here to tell you how. She shares her story of living an unstoppable life and speaks hope into yours.
You may already know who Bethany is, but if you don’t, she was a rising surf star when, at age 13, she lost her left arm to a tiger shark. One month later, she returned to surfing, and within two years, she won her first national surfing title. In 2017, Bethany was inducted into the Surfer’s Hall of Fame. Her courageous return to surfing led to her receiving the MTV Teen Choice Award for Courage and ESPN’s Best Comeback Athlete ESPY Award, among many others. Today, Bethany’s one of the leading professional surfers of all time.
She’s also the author of several books, including Soul Surfer, which inspired the 2011 feature film of the same name. And in 2019, Bethany’s documentary film, Unstoppable, was released in theaters. She lives in Hawaii with her husband Adam, and their two little boys.
This woman is rewriting rules on being a fearless athlete—and she brings new meaning to the phrase, “surfs like a girl!” So, get ready to learn from Bethany four ways to be unstoppable no matter what you face.
4 Ways You Can Rise Above What Tries to Take You Down
- Choose to be adaptive and innovative. For Bethany, 2016 was a big year. She not only beat the six-time world champion and the top-ranked surfer in the world at a major World Surf League competition, but she also was nominated for an ESPY Award for the Best Female Athlete with a Disability. However, she graciously declined the nomination. When I asked Bethany why, she shared that she wasn’t a fan of the terminology.
Bethany shares that she never thinks of herself as disabled. Instead, she views herself as an adaptive and resilient go-getter who strives to live her life to the fullest. While the word “disabled” speaks of loss, the term “adaptive” speaks of resilience. Because of this, she wrote a letter asking if the terminology for the category could be changed to include the word “adaptive” instead of “disability.” The category remained unchanged, though.
One way you can rise above what tries to take you down is by being adaptive and innovative. Ask yourself: When I encounter a difficulty, what’s my response to it? You might be tempted to have a pity party, dwell on “what if,” or wonder what your life would be like otherwise. But, sister, choose to adapt and think outside the box instead. Rather than sitting back and complaining about your current situation, trust that God is in control, and ask Him for wisdom on how to be a resilient go-getter.
- Don’t let limitations become excuses. When Bethany first returned to surfing, she was simply trying to figure out life with one arm. She remembers experiencing tears of joy and excitement as she caught a wave and rode it to the beach. She told herself, “I can do this. I’m going to learn how to surf with one arm. There’s no turning back now!” She didn’t let this limitation become an excuse that stopped her.
Bethany says that circumstances and challenges will often want to limit you, but that’s when you can approach life by thinking beyond what you see. It’s true that there are some limitations you can’t change. For example, I can’t change my blindness. But, even in your unchangeable limits, be willing to go past them and not allow them to become excuses. When obstacles come your way, ask yourself how you can adapt around, above, or through them.
Friend, you also have self-imposed limitations. These could be things like choosing the wrong things to think about or being unwilling to give yourself grace. So, be careful not to select limitations that God didn’t give you. Instead, let those things go—otherwise, they will hold you back from rising above what tries to take you down.
- Train yourself mentally. A quote that Bethany loves comes from American volleyball player, Gabby Reese, who said, “If I flip me, then I flip my environment.” Often it’s our environment that can frustrate us or bring us down. But Bethany says that where your mind goes, your body follows. The power of your thoughts—especially when you face difficulty—is why you need to train yourself mentally. Your thoughts can easily bring you down if you aren’t careful.
What’s an example of how this plays out in daily life? For Bethany, one way her mental state can affect her ability to rise above challenges is in the gym. If she’s not mentally determined to work hard, she’ll lack the motivation to push her body. But, if she approaches a workout ready to give it her all, she’s able to accomplish what her body needs to better surf.
You can train yourself mentally by first being aware of whether your thoughts are bringing you down. If you find that your environment is frustrating you and causing you to be negative, go to Scripture and look for passages that help you put your trust in God and His sovereignty. Remind yourself of verses such as Philippians 4:13 that point to God being your strength.
- Delight in God’s extraordinary love. Bethany says that even when we blow it, God’s grace is there to pick us back up. His grace trumps everything else. Because of this, you can realize that rising above what tries to take you down isn’t about being perfect. You don’t have to be a superhero or invincible. Let your faith in God and His love for you keep you grounded, moving forward, and making good decisions.
What is one way Bethany delights in God’s love? She says repetition is helpful to her. So, she reminds herself daily of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and what that means for her. Meditating on this every day keeps her freshly aware of the hope she has in Christ and God’s providence in her life.
You can do the same. Let God’s love make you brave. Remind yourself of His extraordinary love for you. Reflect daily on the sacrifice Jesus made for you on the cross. Accept that, because of Him, you don’t need to be perfect and you can live in God’s grace.
Friend, Bethany is spectacular, but the same God who strengthens her is the same God who strengthens you too. He is for you and with you right now. So, whatever you face, just like Bethany, you can rise above it, get through it, and show it who’s boss!
Books and Bible Studies by Jennifer Rothschild
- Lessons I Learned in the Dark: Steps to Walking by Faith, Not by Sight
- Lessons I Learned in the Dark: Steps to Walking by Faith, Not by Sight audiobook
- Walking by Faith Bible Study
More from Bethany Hamilton
- Visit Bethany’s website
- Unstoppable film
- Be Unstoppable: The Art of Never Giving Up book
- Soul Surfer film
- Soul Surfer: A True Story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back on the Board book
- Follow Bethany on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram
- Photographer Credit for Bethany’s Photo: Mary Ernsdorf