A Super you and a Super me

Happy New Year! It’s that time of year when everyone resolves to be a healthy person, a better person. Whether it is by eating healthier, opening a gym membership (or actually using the membership that you have), spending less time in front of a screen, getting organized, praying more, going to daily Mass, or just being more patient, most people make a resolution to better themselves for the new year. A study shows that about 46 percent of people who make a New Year’s resolution will follow through with it for at least six months. 

I am all for New Year’s resolutions. I am in favor of anything that is going to encourage us to be the best version of ourselves. Benjamin Franklin once said, “Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every new year find you a better man.” Unfortunately, at the end of every year, most people (myself included) judge the success or failure of the year by the events that happened. It’s a good year if we got new jobs, new relationships, good vacations, more money or a new car. Many of those things are not even the things we resolve to do better. It’s a bad year if a relationship ended, a job was lost, a person we cared about passed away, and we did not get the relationship/car/job/phone that we wanted. I understand that completely. I judged 2013 and 2015 to be bad years because I lost my dad and my brother. But there is another way of looking at it. 

Like Ben Franklin said, each year is an opportunity to make ourselves a better person. Even though I lost my best friend in 2015, I learned that I am stronger than I could ever imagine, loved more than I ever knew, and trying harder for this year to love better than before. Those are all good things from what would be deemed a “bad” year. 

Like many teen-agers, I spent my vacation binge watching Netflix. My husband and I are big fans of the superhero shows. We watch the D.C. Comics and Marvel shows like “The Flash,” “Arrow,” “Gotham,” and “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” This vacation we caught up on “The Flash” and “Arrow.” I love superheroes. My brother loved superheroes. My favorite superhero is Ironman. He was a super intelligent man who used his power of intelligence to make the world a better place. 

I looked up the definition of superhero. Merriam-Webster gives two definitions of a superhero. The first definition is “A fictional hero having extraordinary or superhuman powers.” We know those superheroes: Superman, Batman, Spiderman, and the Flash. Most of us are not going to come from another planet, be struck by lightning, or find a secret underground lair in our mansions to help develop our alter ego. We will not carry a bag around with us to change into our spandex and capes with a mask to hide our identities. These are not the superhero capabilities that are within our reach. 

The second definition of superhero was “An exceptionally skillful or successful person.” Those are also the superheroes I know — my dad, my brother, my favorite teacher in high school, my friends and my husband. When my dad passed away, I said that I lost my Superman. My entire life I looked up to my brother. He always seemed to be the one person I could count on to save me, to save my family. When I lost him, I lost another superhero. About two weeks after my brother passed away, some friends took me to Six Flags. While I was there I bought a Wonder Woman cape, posted a picture of my wearing the cape with the caption, “Sometimes you just need to be your own superhero.” 

Just recently I saw a picture online that had three stick figures on it. The first said “get cape.” The second said, “wear cape,” and the third one said “fly.” I loved this. This is what had been on my heart for months! If my dad and my brother, ordinary people with extraordinary influence on my life, could be considered my superheroes, then we can all be superheroes. And that means sometimes you need to be your own superhero. 

We can all be the second definition of superhero. God has given us all a superpower, His grace. We need to use this gift, this responsibility to be courageous, generous, loving, faithful, kind, compassionate, and understanding. It is not bragging or prideful to say that we can be a superhero if we recognize those gifts that make us so super are gifts from God. It’s our “thank You” back to God by using them to glorify Him. 

So this New Year, I resolve to be my own superhero and to encourage all the other possible superheroes around me to do the same. Do not wait for someone else to save the day, to help a stranger, to support a loved one or help the lost or lonely. Do it yourself. As Commissioner James Gordon of “Batman” once said, “You are going to make a difference. A lot of times it won’t be huge, it won’t be visible even. But it will matter just the same.” But remember, “with great power comes great responsibility” (Uncle Ben from “Spiderman”).

Happy New Year superheroes!

Anchor columnist Amanda Tarantelli has been a campus minister at Bishop Stang High School in North Dartmouth since 2005. She is married, a die-hard sports fan, and resides in Cranston, R.I. She can be reached at atarantelli@bishopstang.com.

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