Relationships: Grand Canyon or Disney World?

My big toenails were toast.

I was seven miles into a rim-to-rim hike of the Grand Canyon. Thirteen to fourteen miles down the North Rim (with side trails). Eight up the South Rim.

The trek started as my personal getaway. I needed some space. I planned to do the hike in one day. However, since I had never hiked the Canyon, I hired a guide, and no guide will hike it under twenty-four hours. So, my one-day trip became a two-day trek with a twenty-pound backpack.

Then, my husband Russell decided to join me.

He was nervous about the unknown guide and wanted to come.

I was not a happy camper. My loving first thought was “As long as you keep up.” This was my trip. My getaway—specifically, my getaway from him.

Day 1: Travel day. Flight from Dallas-Fort Worth to Phoenix. Drive to South Rim. Meet guide. Drive to North Rim. Camp.

Day 2: Descend the North Rim.

I had broken in my hiking shoes in California. They were a little snug, but I didn’t think much about it—until we started going down the North Rim.

Emphasis on down.

As my toes slammed into the end of my shoes, I knew I was in trouble. We stopped after seven miles, and I asked our guide to cut my shoes. He told me I would be fine.

I wasn’t.

I hobbled into camp seven miles later in tears. It was all I could do to keep moving. I focused on the back of Russell’s legs and followed him into camp. I took off my shoes, collapsed in my tent, and slept.

Day 3: Ascend the South Rim.

I stared at my shoes. No way were they going back on my aching feet. Huge blood blisters peeked out from under my toenails.

I glared at our guide. “Cut the shoes.”

He did and lived to see another day. The hike immediately improved. However, it was Russell’s turn to struggle. We edged around mules and made frequent stops for trail mix and water. The twenty-pound backpack felt like fifty, and he was ready to heave it over the precipice. The only way out was up, so we persevered. By afternoon, we’d made it to the top.

Sweet victory! And on our wedding anniversary!

The trip I had wanted all-to-myself turned out to be a blessing to our marriage. Muscles screamed. Blisters oozed. And yes, I lost those two toenails.

But we bonded like never before.

The mental challenges and physical suffering of the canyon reconnected us. I rediscovered my best friend, who had somehow gotten lost amidst four kids, soccer games, and piles of laundry.

Hard times add depth to relationships, and that’s true with God as well. Isaiah 43:2 (NIV) says, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.”

God promises His presence through life’s canyons. Though spiritually we long for the ease of a stroll down Main Street Disney, God hides His best perks on the rugged trail where your muscles ache and the blisters sting. Relationships are hammered out in pain and testing. When you finish, you stand a little taller, smile a little bigger, and exchange knowing looks with your Partner. It’s a forever moment—a memory never to be forgotten because it was forged in sweat, pain, and dependence on God.

Disney just can’t compare.


When have you taken a hard path?

Who came along beside you?

What did you gain from the journey?

What did you learn about God? About yourself?

Was it worth it?


God promises His presence through life's canyons. Click To Tweet
Hard times add depth to relationships, and that’s true with God as well. Click To Tweet
God hides His best perks on the rugged trail. Click To Tweet
Relationships are hammered out in pain and testing. Click To Tweet
It’s a forever moment—never to be forgotten, forged in sweat, pain, and dependence on God. Click To Tweet
Disney just can’t compare. Click To Tweet

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