Finding Faith

January 3, 2008
By Dolores Bloomfield, Decatur, IL

“If you think I’m useless, then why don’t you just leave?” This was what Cali could hear through her bedroom door. It was the third time this week that she had locked herself in her room to escape the yelling. She hated it; nobody understood what it was like to be in her shoes. Cali’s parents hated each other and didn’t have respect for her. They stereotyped surfers as lazy bums which made it impossible to be close to their daughter, whose life was surfing. Therefore, Cali felt totally alone. She always questioned why they hated surfing so much, seeing as how they did live in Hawaii, but she always got a stereotypical answer.

Cali stared out the window into the ocean lit up by the fireball moon, wishing it would just carry her away. She walked over to her surfboard-shaped mirror and stared at her reflection. She thought to herself, “Why do I have to have this horrible life? What did I do to deserve this?” Cali flopped down on her bed and started to cry. This is how she spent most of her life, feeling sorry for herself and never letting anyone help her. She used surfing as her outlet to get away from everything, which explained why she was so good at it. However, she felt that there was something missing in her heart. Little did Cali know, this hole would soon be filled...

A warm, flower scented breeze blew on Cali’s face waking her up. She was still in her clothes and couldn’t remember why. Then, last night came back to her when she felt the crust that dried tears left in her eyes. She must have cried herself to sleep and never woke back up to put on her pajamas. She snapped out of her painful memory and walked to the window to see how the surf was. Perfectly enough, it looked amazing and there were only a few people out on the beach. Cali quickly threw on one of her bikinis and ran downstairs. She saw her mom was reading the paper, so she tried to sneak by; no such luck. The paper moved and her mom’s face appeared. “Are you going to do that stupid surfboarding thing again?” Kathy, her mom, asked. Cali immediately stopped and spun around on her heels.

“It’s called surfing. It’s not stupid. And yes, I’m going. It’s not like you care anyway.” answered Cali.

Kathy replied with, “You’re right, I don’t care, but don’t come crying to me when you figure out you’re just wasting your time.” Cali slammed the front door, grabbed her board out of the garage, and made a beeline for the water.

The surf was even better than Cali expected, and she was loving it. There were only three other surfers and a few spectators on the beach. In between wave sets, one of the surfers asked Cali if she had ever competed. This brought on a horrible memory. Competitions cost money to enter them, lots of money, and of course Cali’s parents wouldn’t pay for her to enter one. So, Cali raised the money herself and entered one. She won and had the chance to go to nationals but couldn’t because her parents were mad that she even entered the contest in the first place. As Cali was telling the surfer dude about it, she had her right arm dangling in the water. Suddenly, she felt something swimming underneath her board. As soon as she figured out what it was, it was too late. There was blood surrounding her board and a sting by her right shoulder. All Cali could think was to get to shore. She paddled, without the help of her right arm, to shore with the other surfer close behind. As soon as she got there, all of her energy was gone and she couldn’t get her legs to move. The surfer carried her up onto the beach to his wife. Strangely enough, she was an EMT, and went into work mode as soon as she saw Cali.

When Cali woke up in the hospital, the words of a man were ringing through her ears; “But when you walk with God, you’re never alone.” She had never heard the man’s voice before, but the sound of it gave her a sense of strength. The strangest part was that she had never even considered God before, and neither did anyone that she knew. Cali shook the thought from her head and had a realization of what had happened. Looking down at her right shoulder, she saw only a stub and no arm. As her eyes were welling up, the doctor came in. So she immediately tried to swallow her tears.

“Hello Cali, I am Doctor Smith. How are you feeling?”

Cali answered, “Confused, very scared, and tired.”

“Well that is to be expected considering that you just survived a horrible shark attack. As you can see, your whole right arm was taken and you suffered major blood loss. If the other surfer,Will, and his wife,Grace, hadn’t have been there, you may have died. Grace packed your shoulder with towels to try and minimize your blood loss. If I were you, I would be praying and thanking God that you are still here.” Doctor Smith went on about other things but Cali couldn’t focus on him; she was in a state of panic. Her mind raced with depressing thoughts, but the one that brought the tears was the thought of surfing. She assumed she would never be able to do it again. The doctor left and Cali was left alone with her thoughts.

Cali wondered where her parents were, not that it mattered because they would probably fight about it anyway. Cali said to herself, “Why didn’t I just listen to Mom? Then none of this would have happened. Surfing is just a waste of time, and now I’m paying for it-- wait, what am I saying? I love surfing, it’s so relaxing and it clears my head. But that doesn’t matter now because I can’t surf with one arm.”

As soon as this passed her lips, the man’s voice that she had heard before popped into her head. This time it was saying, “I can do all things through He who gives me strength.” Cali could not figure out whose voice this was or where the “sayings” were coming from. She had never heard it or what it was saying anywhere before.

After thinking of what she could do to figure out where everything was coming from, a man walked into the room and introduced himself. He was a pastor and asked Cali if there was anything that he could do for her. She stared at him blankly wondering why he was being so nice to her when he was a complete stranger. She was feeling brave, so she asked him exactly that. He answered with, “It is simply my duty as a Christian to help those who are in need and share God’s Word with everyone.”

Cali thought to herself, “Maybe I should tell him what is going on.” So she did, and she was very surprised at what she heard. The pastor told her that the voice that she was hearing was probably God’s, and He was sending her a message. He also told her that she shouldn’t be scared, but rather listen to the messages. The pastor left and once again, Cali was alone.

Cali didn’t know what to do. Here she was in a hospital, no sign of her parents, and supposedly God was talking to her. She had this strange sense that the pastor was right, but she didn’t know what to do. Then she remembered that there was a Bible in the table next to her bed. Cali opened the drawer and struggled to get the Bible, having one arm was not going to be the easiest thing. She flipped it open and began to read. The more she read, the more she thought of how weird the whole thing was. Before she could think anymore, there was a light knock on the door and a nurse poked her head in the room. She came in and checked to make sure everything was alright. Cali sat the Bible down and smiled at the nurse. She told her that she would like to see her parents, that is if the nurse could get them to come. The nurse smiled sweetly and told Cali that they had been called at work, but were already gone because they somehow already knew what had happened.

As soon as the nurse left, Cali picked the Bible back up. She glanced at the page and saw that it was on the book of Matthew, her father’s name. One verse, 14:27, caught her eye; “But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” This went straight to Cali’s heart, and gave her a sense of happiness. She then decided that she wanted to accept Jesus as her Savior. She silently prayed, “I don’t really know if I’m doing this right, but I want You to be in my life. I am accepting You as my Father, and I hope that You will accept me as Your daughter, Amen.” Cali felt like she had just been given the best Christmas present ever. She decided that the doctor and pastor were right; God is the one to thank for life.

Not too long after Cali prayed, her parents busted through the door. They ran over to Cali and gave her a huge hug. They told her how sorry they were for not respecting her and for fighting all the time. Cali told them how she had accepted Jesus into her life and how different she felt. Kathy and Matthew were both amazed at their daughter and deeply regretted how badly they had treated her and each other.

Cali flopped on her bed and pulled up her sheet. It had been almost a year since the attack and she was finally surfing again. She thought to herself how glad she was that her parents had accepted God into their lives, and that they fell in love with surfing. Interrupting her thoughts, Kathy came into Cali’s room to kiss her good night. Before she left, Cali remembered a question that she had never asked. “Mom,” she said, “ you never told me how you and dad found out that I had been attacked by that shark.”

Kathy paused and then replied, “A man came into our office and told us. We looked at each other for one second and then turned to thank the man, but he was gone. The only information that we could get was that his first name was Will.” Cali smiled to herself and then thanked God for her life, family, the ability to surf, and for giving her His Will and Grace.

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