Bethany Hamilton is a young woman who, while surfing, lost her left arm during a shark attack in 2003. Her case was highly publicized, not only because of the incident but because three weeks later she got back on her surf board and hit the waves again. She made numerous TV appearances at that time. During one such interview, after she left the stage, the TV hosts were perplexed at how she could be so upbeat about her situation so soon after the accident. They even speculated that perhaps she was still in shock.
What the interviewers failed to realize was that Bethany had made a conscious decision to accept her “new normal” and get on with her life rather than wallow in her loss. I’m sure she went through an initial grieving process, but she was able to move past it. She adjusted by teaching herself how to surf with one arm, learning new ways to stay balanced on the board. She even went on to be victorious in the world of professional surfing.
Each of us will experience numerous losses in our lives. We can allow each loss to define us and suffer as a result, or we can accept what we cannot change and–like Bethany–find a new way to achieve balance. We might even be able to be victorious in our own way within each “new normal” we encounter. Pain and loss are inevitable in life, but suffering is optional. The choice is yours.