Life has certainly been different for the past few months, with a pandemic, economic struggles, riots and even earthquakes. The question comes to mind that if these trials are some sort of a test, how am I doing? Am I getting an A-plus in kindness, responsibility, humility?

Trials have long been considered to be tests of these traits, along with fortitude, patience and faith. One definition of the word “trial” is “a test.” Some believe these “tests” come from a higher power. Others use trials as a test for themselves – a way to measure their own responses and to learn and grow from the adversity. We tend to ask ourselves questions such as, “How can I use this experience to grow? What can I do to help others through this difficulty?”

Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote in his book titled, “Strength to Love,” “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. The true neighbor will risk his position, his prestige and even his life for the welfare of others.”

A well-known quote from the book “Little Women,” written by novelist Louisa May Alcott reads, “I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning how to sail my ship.”

Many instances of learning lessons through trials are found in scripture, religious texts and from myriad well-known speakers and authors. The fact is that when adversity in our life passes, many of us tend to look back and think, “Did I pass the test? How did I do?”

As Utah struggles, along with much of the world, with the COVID-19 pandemic, are we passing the test? I’ve seen many examples that tell me many of you are. Last week, Pleasant Grove police officers and firefighters drove by a 3-year-old cancer patient’s parade party. He couldn’t have a regular birthday party due to the pandemic, so people went out of their way to make it a special day for him.

Earlier this summer, Provo Art Center provided free art kits to people to give them something to do while trying to socially distance. Since March, I have seen people post on social media about ways they are supporting local businesses during this pandemic. I see many people wearing masks or face coverings everywhere I go, forgoing their own comfort and convenience (see Martin Luther King, Jr.’s quote above) to protect others. Yes, people are working to “pass the test.”

The masks can be somewhat of a nuisance. Several months ago, I had a pesky case of Type A flu and was sick for about two weeks. My doctor gave me a mask and encouraged me to wear it around my family so they wouldn’t get sick as well. I wore it some of the time, but, selfishly, not every time that they were nearby. Looking back, I failed that test.

Utahns have had to be told and almost begged time and time again by medical professionals, religious leaders and government leaders to socially distance and simply wear a mask or face covering in public. But, still, we’re not all passing that particular test. I hope that changes soon.

Am I passing the test? I would give myself a C grade right now. I could be doing more to lend a hand to neighbors, donate food to local food pantries and food banks, socially isolating as much as possible while still supporting businesses and of course, never forgetting to wear my mask in public.

Laura Giles is a long-time correspondent for the Daily Herald and a community member living in Pleasant Grove. She can be contacted at

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