Sitting in my car with the heater blasting, I welcomed these brisk mornings with City and Colour playing on repeat. The sun had yet to show its face and the waves were small and mellow.
My kind of morning.
I made the early drive to Blackies before sunrise to avoid the clutter of people in the water. Most times I found myself in the company of old men and girls, the mellowest of crowds, the most welcoming of sessions. As a beginner I craved this environment, the kind of environment that said my errors were a part of the process.
Most mornings shared the same routine.
Catch a wave.
In the middle of my week however, my solitary routine was joined by the company of an unexpected guest so early in the morning.
I look to my right and a wide-eyed girl about the age of 11 paddled right next to me, her mouth splitting to fit the smile that reached across her face as she set her foam board about 3 feet away from where my feet were dangling. At first I smiled and looked away, waiting for her dad to come right up and push her into the waves filling the next set. But as I kept sitting there, my focus kept drifting toward wherever she was surfing.
She would go for a wave, wipe out, and end up right next to me after every try.
I caught my own wave this time and as I continued riding, I couldn’t help but wonder where her dad was.
I looked toward shore and sure enough there he was, watching his daughter paddle next to me, trusting my presence.
We never once spoke. Only one simple wave and a collection of smiles.
All she wanted was that comfort.
All she needed was a strong presence next to her to give her the confidence she needed.
As a mentor to girls in junior high ministry it occurred to me that sometimes, all these girls need is a smile. I don’t need to have all the right words to say or know the best action steps to take when confronted with an issue. Sometimes all I need to do is listen and be a strong presence.
Sometimes, all it takes is knowing someone cares to get you through a hard time.
I never once spoke to the wide-eyed girl on the big foam board, but knowing there was a girl she could sit next to in the water gave her the confidence she needed to be out there.
As leaders, sometimes all it takes is to simply wave hello.