I first clapped eyes on this guy ten years ago in a Church service. He used to sit across from me and I’d catch his stare every so often. His ocean-like eyes would catch mine for a moment and out of shyness I’d turn away, and then look again.
He was gorgeous! I would look forward to seeing him every service, searching for his grand entrance. His presence would just light up the place. There he was a real mystery man with a sharp suit and flawless charm. I’d never had a boyfriend before and surely he couldn’t be single: he was a right catch! Could this be the one I was waiting for all my life, and better still, could he actually like me back?
Pastors seem to know everything about him and told me that he would be a great partner for life. However, they warned me that he was not the type to intrude or impose himself on anyone and had some special requirements in a person. If I wanted him, I’d have to make the first move! Apparently, he had much to offer in life that only a selected group of people had seen, and there were rumours that he was loaded and could give the right woman a dream life if she was willing to pay the price. In my mind, I wasn’t having it. I thought “No he’s the guy, he needs to make the first move! He’s got to chase me!”
The more I played hard-to –get, the more this guy just smiled at me like a fish waiting to be caught! After nine long months, I finally approached him with a speech I’d rehearsed several times. With my head down and my heart in my stomach, I blurted out: “Hi, I’m Sherene, I am looking for love, right. I have a wonderful family and amazing friends but still there’s something missing. I have nothing to offer you except myself and my ambition to become a woman of God. I have done many things wrong but I am fixing these at the moment. I don’t really have a dream but I’m willing to mould myself into your plans. I know I’m not the most beautiful girl in the world and a man like you could have his pick but and if you have the heart and the patience, then maybe we can get to know each other and maybe, I could be the woman for you.”
Where did those words come from? This was so not what I had planned on saying! Slowly, I lifted my head in fear and anticipation of his response…
He held my hand, kissed my cheek and said, “It would be a pleasure to have you by my side and I am honoured to have you pick me but know one thing, you have not chosen me, I have chosen you.”
Over the moon and with several parties taking place in my heart, I was stunned by those words of affection. I had won him over with my very humility. Was this really happening? It was too good to be true! After all, I was this fat nineteen year old with a couple of issues and a world of complexes. I was scared of being left on the shelf. Everyone around me was shouting, “it’s no good to be single”, and singing to the same tune of, “you’d better get married my friend!” This made me obsessed with getting married. Finally, someone was willing to take me on; my first boyfriend Mr Valentine…
Three months later, another guy caught my attention and offered me the world. I had been with Valentine but had not seen all the things he had promised to give me so I began to doubt that he was the real deal. I couldn’t see the lavish life the pastors told me that he had and I couldn’t take on anymore promises. I needed to see something concrete. Valentine was too patient for me, he wasn’t in any rush and I just wanted to get on with life and have some sort of testimony!
This other guy understood me. He defended me against everyone and everything. He didn’t have much. No fake promises. Everything was out on the table in plain view. He wanted to marry me. Oh my days, marriage! Finally, I was going to win the race against singleness and have the celebrity wedding I’d always dreamed off.
But Valentine was having none of it.
He warned me against him. In defence of my plans that were set in stone I said,
‘I love you Valentine but this guy is willing to marry me, now. He doesn’t want me to change anything. I know we don’t have much in common but we can work it out after marriage… After all, I met him in the church, and he says he’s good friends with you. He’s even known you longer than me! Thanks for your advice yeah but Ill take it from here, this is my decision, please respect it.”
Valentine was convinced that I was making a mistake and tried to get the pastors, my family members and friends to get me to change my mind but this girl was not for turning. Even though Valentine backed off he was still a good friend to me. He helped me to find a wedding dress, book the venue and he even came to the wedding. Then when the ceremony was over he looked deep into my eyes, held me in his arms and said, “Sherene, if anything goes wrong, just call me and I’ll be there – I promise.”
What a cheek? I thought. The more Valentine persisted, the more I was determined to prove him wrong. Months passed and married life was bliss until the real world stepped in, coupled with heightened drama, tears and betrayal. How could I be married yet feel so alone?
Then he left. Two and a half years of marriage deleted with the words: “I don’t love you anymore…”
I was broken into tiny pieces: demoted and unrecognisable, a woman ashamed and undone.
Valentine heard the news and came to see me. I fell into his arms, broke down and cried all night, everyday for months until the last teardrop had fallen. He stroked my hair with his comforting touch as I lay lifeless. I thought my world had ended and then he whispered, “Everything is going to be okay. I believe in you Sher. All you need to do is get over it, tear out this page in the book of your life, burn it and start again. Sher let’s start afresh. Try me this time.”
Separated and alone I spent all my time with Valentine. He moved in and helped me get over the heartache, the embarrassment and the stigma of people secretly saying, “I told you so!”
No-one knew what to say to me. They watched me at a distance with pity in their eyes and others couldn’t look at me at all. Friends were getting engaged and were inviting me to celebrate with them and offer advice! Were they serious? Was this some kind of joke? I was the abandoned woman who had made her family spend thousands on the church wedding of a century and what for? What-a-shame… And why? Not because of love or intelligent faith, but for a testimony to myself that I’d marry my first ever boyfriend who asked me. This was my dream. What a nightmare!
I begged this guy to return to me and did all I could to make things work. But every “no” and every knock back sent me into a deeper hole of humiliation. I lost my identity. I became a door mat. If he didn’t want me, who would?
I was in a place where no-one could reach me even if they tried. Some people said horrible things to me, accusing me of all sorts, as if I didn’t feel small enough yet Valentine would step in and say, “Leave her alone!” What a defence? Why didn’t I marry Valentine in the first place? He treated me like his most precious treasure even though I had dumped him, been so rude and spat in his face so many times. He still forgave me and then taught me how to forgive. What a release it was to make peace with the man who had broken my world-Valentine showed me how…
Outcast but not forsaken, Valentine, held my hand through it all and said, “Sher keep your head high, hold my hands because you are going to rise.”
Weeks turned to months and I became totally dependent on Valentine. I wanted to be with him all the time. I didn’t want to make a move without him. The more I spoke to him, the more kind he was. The more time I spent with him, the more affectionate he became. I was still rough around the edges and with much baggage, he said, let me take all of those burdens from you, marry me. “But Valentine, after everything I have done? And I have nothing to give you.” I questioned. “Stop!” he interrupted, “I love you just the way you are, take me on, yes or no?”
Reluctantly and with much regret, I signed the divorce papers at 24 years old and when people asked me where is your husband? Valentine would whisper, “I am here.” It was so hard to legally sign away someone who regardless of how he hurt me, meant so much. But he didn’t want me: he wanted someone-else, something-else, anyone but me! There was only so much pain I could take. It was time to move on…
Valentine convinced me that I could totally transform my life and turn my past hurts into a stepping stone in the right direction. He asked a pastor to speak to me about attending the Therapy of Love meetings. Not-a-chance I said at his invitation. What will people think? Valentine was not taking no for an answer. He actually got me to overcome all the doubts, people’s stares and my fear of change to seek healing of my emotional wounds. It worked.
Before I knew it I was on holiday in New York with fabulous friends, changing my wardrobe, losing weight, doing well at work, helping people on Sky TV, enjoying my family and feeling good inside out! I was becoming a different lady, a woman with dreams, learning what love really was and how to love myself. I was beginning to find my true identity, I was beginning to become just like Valentine. He was my makeover artist, making all things new!
Two years later, Valentine left me a letter one morning explaining that he’d gone away on business to complete an urgent assignment.
My eyes welled up with tears as I read the words: “Sher, there’s no need for me to carry you anymore. You can walk now, in fact, you can run! But if you need me, give me a call and I’ll be there, I promise.”
I was scared. I didn’t know how to face the world alone. Valentine had always been there. I’d call him constantly and get his voicemail message saying:
“Don’t worry Sherene, just remember to follow all the guidance notes I left you in that special book I showed you and you’ll be fine love. I don’t know how long I’ll be but be sure that when I return, I will bring you the most beautiful gift, I promise. Just like in the days of Esther, you probably won’t hear from me but just know that my silence means that I am working on a big surprise so don’t be afraid. Be of good courage and run!”
There Valentine was once more, with his big promises again just like in the beginning. But this time, I chose to believe in Him. Now I knew who Valentine was. He was a man of His Word.
I purposed in my heart that I too would present Valentine with a surprise. When he’d return I didn’t want Him to find the same old Sherene after he had invested so much in me. I wanted to show Him that His sacrifice was not in vein.
I started to put into practice all that I had learned with the help of that special book and constant calls to Valentine to show Him that I still cared. On his return, I was going to present Him with the all-new Sherene who had been loved and could now give love freely. She was truly single and very happy. With savings in the bank, a change of appearance, the ability to get creative in the Bookshop, joining the Love Team in the Church and the company of great family and friends, I was able to focus my energy not on myself but in helping others to find that someone special. How ironic? Me of all people!
I wanted to make sure that Valentine would find me busy multiplying my talents and making a profit in all areas of my life… except one of course, my love-life. This was a grey area, untouchable, unreachable and questionable.
Excited and happy to see me, Valentine showed up at the special Feb 14 Encounters for singles meeting with this handsome guy with a foreign accent from my mum’s homeland. Secretly, I’d always wanted to be with a St. Lucian man and he was absolutely gorgeous! Stunning…But what was he doing there?
Valentine laughed at me, as I forgot that he had this amazing ability to read my heart and mind. He greeted me with a huge hug and kiss on the cheek and said, “It’s so good to see you Sher, I got all your messages and I am so glad to see you using your faith in a creative way. You go girl! Sorry I took so long. I needed to invest in the best gift I could find and it was worth the wait.
“This gift came at a very high price and you are worth it. Let’s just say the reason for some of the delays were down to some tiny enemies of mine who insist on creating strongholds on those who seek to befriend me. But as per usual, their bark is never ended with a bite. When I show they seem to abandon ship every time… I guess I must have built a reputation on being some sort of saviour!
“Anyway, back to you Sher, I’d like you to meet your surprise, Mr Linborn Changoo. I will go away on more business and I want you to take care of him. He’s not perfect by he listens to me and this is hard to find these days. He loves you, I have put this in him and he will take good care of you. Don’t worry, because of human errors, he may upset you from time to time but don’t bother getting tangled up in arguments about it, just give me a call and I’ll sort it pronto. I have the keys to both your hearts and a three-fold cord can never be broken.
I broke down in tears of joy as Linborn embraced me.
“From now on, you guys will be seen as one: The Changoos. You see Sher, I do keep my promises. It takes a little time, as you know, one day is like a thousand years for me but I never change. I will do what I said I will do. Now, when you look at each other you will remember me. I’m off again on a special assignment to prepare an amazing place for you guys in the future and when I return I’ll take you there. Be good to each other. Stay hopeful, remain faithful and above all things believe in love.”
Valentine left once again but always checks up on us from time to time. He’s always on our webcam, forever sending text messages and calls us all the time. He is always with us because we are with Him.
I married Linborn in April 2009 and have been so happy doing things God’s way. I was looking for love in all the wrong places. How could I ever find true love without developing a relationship with the author and finisher of love?
I was single, married, separated, divorced, truly single, and well married all before the age of 27; talk about going around in circles: a modern-day Israelite!
But I thank God because now I have a testimony not of myself but of Mr Valentine. He’s the man with ocean-like eyes and flawless charm who will never let you down and whose love is unconditional, unchanging, and unashamed.
This Feb 14 is dedicated to Him: Mr Valentine, The Lord Jesus Christ.