“The Amazing Race” is finishing up its 25th season on television. In just over 13 years, a lot of married and dating couples have teamed up to race around the world in the hopes of winning a million dollars. For the most part, the typical weaknesses of any relationship surface during the stress of the race—tempers flare, whiners whine, and petty irritations morph into public displays of frustration. In some ways, that’s what makes it feel real—I would probably fall into any of those traps if I were to undertake the race.
Enter Adam and Bethany, newlyweds.
Bethany Hamilton is best known for returning to competitive surfing after her arm was bitten off by a shark. Her bestselling book Soul Surfer was turned into thesuccessful Christian movie of the same title a few years back.
The show runners probably expected to capitalize on Bethany’s missing arm—and they do. At every opportunity they show her from the side of the missing limb, and they include any comments other competitors make about how strong Bethany is. The gamemakers even threw in a surfing challenge to show her in action. She continues to embody the message of hope and determination that she shares as a speaker around the world.
However, the subtler message she and her new husband, Adam, are sending is an important one. Their marriage means more than the million dollars. They are making a strong showing this season, cruising through most of the challenges without tantrums or drama. They show each other patience, encouragement, and support.
Many teammates, married or otherwise, at some point say something to the effect of, “You’re going to cost us a million dollars!” People often lose perspective in the hunt for the prize, wanting the money and determined to be winners.
Bethany and Adam have not berated each other, and, as far as I’ve seen, have never said a negative word about any of their competitors. That makes them highly unusual. Few teams have been able to keep their cool and hold their tongues about both each other and those they are competing against.
It’s been a joy to watch them, and to have my daughters watch too, as someone they’ve seen as a hero continues to model Christ-like love and grace in an often graceless competition. Tune in the next couple of weeks to see if they can win the race they are running so well. (CBS, Friday nights)