I can barely swim, let alone surf, but summer weather had me thinking about ocean waves recently. In late April, I went to see the movie Soul Surfer with two of my friends. The message contained in the storyline truly inspired me— tugging at my heartstrings and encouraging me to make the most of every opportunity.
For those of you who don’t know Bethany Hamilton’s story, I will fill you in briefly. Bethany was a promising young surfer— a teenage girl with a passion for the waves and conquering each swell with anticipation. She was in the process of preparing for a surfing competition one day when she stopped to float on her surfboard for a few moments in order to catch her breath. It was then that tragedy struck; a shark latched on to her arm, resulting in amputation of that limb.
Initially, Bethany struggles with feelings of doubt and uncertainty. She wonders how this could possibly be God’s plan for her life. She had wanted to be a professional surfer, and with only one arm, this dream now seemed out of reach. But Bethany didn’t let these feelings take root inside of her. Instead, she pressed forward, entering into first one competition and then the next. She faced defeat and struggle, but she kept getting on her surfboard, seeking that next big wave.
I won’t spoil the ending for you, but it was in the final scenes of the movie that I found the most inspiration. In searching for the right wave that would carry her up and over it in victory, Bethany exemplified the essence of her attitude for life. No challenge or obstacle was too large for her; in fact, the bigger the wave the better in her case. She didn’t settle for small victories but instead had her goal set on becoming a professional surfer.
This past week, I worked with fifteen incredible teenagers from around the state of Wisconsin. Each of these students had a disability, but at YLF, disability is never a factor. We spent our week together exploring leadership strategies and barriers to success in order that we might make the most of every opportunity to reach for our dreams. This camp/ forum served as a launching pad for me as a teenager, and now today, I am assistant director of the entire program.
In potentially directing the program in the future, I think about Bethany Hamilton’s story once more. Could working with these students in future years be the next wave for me on the horizon? What about my writing and music? What does God have for me in each of these endeavors? Can I be devoted to all three, or must I ride just one wave at a time? Which opportunity has the greatest potential?
I don’t have the answers, but I am praying that God will show me which wave He wants me to tackle next. Until then, I will keep serving as I have been, devoting myself to my three passions: music, writing, and my YLF teens. But what about you? What wave will you set your sights upon? Where might God be leading you? Take that opportunity, catch that wave, and it will bring you to new heights.