I’m an unapologetic church whore. I move from place to place like a merchant trading her goods. It’s the place to find good husbands, good friends, new clients. I seem to focus so much on the search for the good that I never become good myself. I was never supposed to wander into my current church, but I did so by accident, and I stayed out of curiosity. It was a family church. They had a vibrant youth ministry for teenagers, but beyond that there was nothing more. There was no singles fellowship, all the people in their twenties were newlyweds. As a 26-year-old unmarried female, I stood out like a sore thumb. They say curiosity killed the cat, but in my case, it wasted my time.

He was the first person to shake my hand upon arriving in church on my first day, sweet smile, strong hands, muscles visibly ripping out of his polo shirt and a tiny tattoo of the cross on the underside of his right wrist. He was, at least, six feet tall, dark skin, 75% cocoa solids and a teeny weeny Afro. Brown eyes, standard, a nicely trimmed beard, and a chiseled jaw that would make any girl swoon. I soon noticed that he was an usher, a minister, a youth leader and a drummer, he knew everything about the church and everyone in the church knew him.

I never wanted to be married to a minister; pastors always seem to have a secretive life behind the pulpit, and I was not ready for that. I’d only recently broken up with a prayer pastor, and let me tell you that his Holiness did not extend to the bedroom. But this guy knew a different kind of Jesus, and every time I saw him smile in my direction I knew I had to stay. So I kept going back to his church, and then I volunteered in the youth ministry, I needed to get noticed fast. I began to learn things about him as I hung around, none of these things attracted me, but I stayed regardless. His name was Damilola, strike one; I hate unisex names on men. He was planning to go into full-time ministry, strike two, I already said I’m no Pastor’s wife, I’ve been around a bit too much for that. He was saving his first kiss for marriage and wanted a girl who had done the same. Strike three, curiosity had prevented me from waiting for anything worthwhile in life.

So I stayed on, I thought to myself, we hadn’t spoken yet, and all my dreams and fantasies were just too good to put aside. In one fantasy he forgave my amorous past, married me, and we went around the world preaching the gospel. In another, he gave up the ministry and became an architect; (I have a thing for creative men), he built us the perfect home, and we lived blissfully. But like a coup de foudre things started to change the second I heard the sound of his voice. And my fantasies began to wash away like sand castles when the waves eventually come.

‘Hi, sorry I didn’t catch your name’ he said to me as he extended his large hands to shake mine. There was an event for the under 16s during the half term break, and all the volunteers were together again, I was the only one he didn’t know so he approached me as I told him my name, my heart may have skipped a bit, maybe two.
This was my chance to make an impression, perhaps it was worthwhile staying in this church. I had been planning my exit, I wasn’t getting what I needed, and time was far spent.

He sat by me and made small talk. I told him about my family and how much I missed my mother’s cooking. He told me about his mother, how she doted on her four boys, she was apparently a good cook too. But I knew she would not beat my mother, nothing compares to the taste of her ‘gbegiri’ upon arriving home after a long journey. He talked, I listened, I spoke he listened. He paid attention to everything that came from my lips; he offered me a drink when he got himself one, he noticed every time I shuffled in my chair. He was a real gentleman.

However, in true Tolani style, I was bored. He could not capture my thoughts or my attention. My imagination was not activated, mind enlightened or soul invigorated. We went through the motions of conversation like a polite pairing of strangers should; there was no spark, no fire, no connection. I asked him about the Nigerian elections; he had no opinion. I asked him about the British elections; he had no opinion. I asked him about the last book he read; he said his Bible. I was sure he read his Bible, but I was sure he did not study anything else. This put me off.
He mentioned he was going to be a full-time preacher. I already knew that! I asked if he would attend Bible college, he said; “No one can teach you to preach, that’s the Holy-Spirit’s job.” He talked so passionately about his mission work, yet my mind wandered, and my lips replied a few times with; “it is well,” “you are right.” He mistook this for interest and conversation.

Then the attention I had initially desired began to follow. He had assumed I was an average nice girl. He was texting, calling and making plans. I had tried the usual techniques; ignoring his messages, avoiding him at church, not attending the events he invited me to. I had sold myself incorrectly, I knew he didn’t want my baggage, but I didn’t want what he had to sell either. I was exasperated, I hated myself for this, I should have gone to that vibrant Church Cynthia had invited me to. Perhaps I would have found someone else there. I had made some friends in this church, but not the friend, my soul, longed for. If I wasted another year in this place, with no prospects, my family members were sure to deliver the riot act.

So without warning I left, I informed the youth leaders that I had a calling from God to go to a city church, they believed me. I left for the massive church in town, where the music was loud, and the brothers were many. Where weddings took place and marriages didn’t last. Where a crowd was found, but the souls were lost. I knew I was bound to find a husband there; I was not looking for flashy things; I wasn’t looking for love either. I need security and position in society, with a little sprinkle of Jesus.

Hello, my name is Tolani, and I’m a pathological church whore.