Holy Week -- that is, the week leading up to Easter -- is special to me not just from a spiritual perspective but also from a marital one. That's because Mike proposed to me on Holy Thursday.
He chose the date purposefully, as a way of representing how serving each other in marriage would be an intimate representation of Jesus' directive to us to be servants.
I haven't previously shared the whole story of Mike's proposal (except briefly in this guest post), so I thought this would be a good time to do it.
But first, for those who are as not familiar with the Bible, here's the passage traditionally read on Holy Thursday:
Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. And during supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, rose from supper, laid aside his garments, and girded himself with a towel.
Then he poured water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which he was girded. He came to Simon Peter; and Peter said to him, "Lord, do you wash my feet?" Jesus answered him, "What I am doing you do not know now, but afterward you will understand." Peter said to him, "You shall never wash my feet." Jesus answered him, "If I do not wash you, you have no part in me." Simon Peter said to him, "Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!" Jesus said to him, "He who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but he is clean all over; and you are clean, but not every one of you." For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, "You are not all clean."
When he had washed their feet, and taken his garments, and resumed his place, he said to them, "Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example that you also should do as I have done to you." (John 13:1-15)
The week before Easter 2008 was our spring break from college, and we'd decided to spend the week visiting Mike's grandparents down in Florida. It was a fabulously relaxing vacation with beautiful weather. I read a bunch of books, Mike helped his grandpa make repairs on the house, and we played a lot of Scrabble with his grandma.
Unlike most of the old folks in their little community of homes, Mike's grandparents don't go to bed at 8 or 9pm. Most nights we were up past midnight with them.
On the Wednesday night in question we played two back-to-back games of Scrabble with his grandma. By the time we wrapped up, it was around 1 o'clock Thursday morning. I was exhausted, but Mike figured out that if he waited until the next evening it would probably be Friday by the time we were ready for bed, and that would completely ruin the whole plan to propose on Holy Thursday.
Mike's grandma and I both went off to get ready for bed, while Mike stood around anxiously because his grandpa was still up watching boxing. I got into bed and Mike came into my room and asked if I would come out and sit with him on the porch. I had an inkling that he might be planning to propose, but I was so tired I just groaned and said, "Can't we do this tomorrow?" (Poor Mike!)
He talked me into going out there, but then he went back into the house and told me to wait out there for him. At this point his grandpa had stopped watching TV but had gone into the (only) bathroom to get ready for bed, so Mike again stood around anxiously waiting.
Meanwhile, I lay down on the patio seat and figured he'd wake me up whenever he got done with whatever he was doing.
Finally he came out on the porch with a bowl of water and a towel. He said that because it was Holy Thursday, he wanted to wash my feet. As he started to do so, he asked, "What's that song we always sing at church?"
I started to sing it -- "The Servant Song" (lyrics and music here) -- and he sang it with me. The first four verses, at least, as that's as far as he'd been able to memorize -- which, if you know Mike, is no small feat :)
When we finished singing and he'd finished washing my feet, he started talking about how Jesus knew He was going to die that night but that He wanted to show how serving one another is the most important thing we could do. Mike said he wanted us to serve each other in love for the rest of our lives. Then he pulled out the engagement ring and asked me to marry him.
I'm pretty sure I was already happy-crying at this point, and there was much hugging and loving words, plus me saying, "I can't believe you finally proposed." (Yes, I had some really romantic lines that night, haha.) I had been expecting it for some time at that point and had had several false "Is this it?" moments, so the fact that he had finally proposed was a bit surreal for me.
At this point it was around 2am and we had to be quiet so as not to wake anyone up, but I had to tell someone. I called my BFF because I knew he was always up super-late. He immediately guessed why I was calling and started screaming with excitement. I will forever remember that moment: 2am, 70 degrees outside, dancing in my socks in the street while my best friend screamed with all the joy that I felt but couldn't express.
It's been four years since that night, and I'm happy to say that I still feel just as loved and served by my husband as I did then. Our solid foundation of faith has kept us grounded throughout the years and, I believe, will carry us through the years to come.
Every Holy Week, for me, is an opportunity to reflect on how my life is serving my God and my husband. Even if this week doesn't have this kind of personal meaning for you, I hope you will still know how loved you are.