Motivazione alta!

This week marks four months that my family and I have been living in Italy. Prior to moving, we spent about five months being “all in” preparing.

There is one major item has loomed over my head for several months: Learning the Italian language.

From the onset, I was truly committed to downloading the language apps, and even had some good streaks for logging in several days in a row. I listed to podcasts in the car and made feeble attempts to make it stick. I kept thinking, be patient, it’ll take some work but then suddenly I’ll be speaking like a real Italian.

Four months of living here resulted in ~120 words. Even with 120 great words, it is generally impossible to communicate in Italian. To be less harsh on myself, I did set a goal to learn at least one word per day. Unfortunately that goal wasn’t good enough.

The most important thing I was lacking was motivation. I went through the motions feeling good about checking the box when using the language applications. The online apps give some good affirmation and feedback to keep the users going. Nothing against the apps; those weren’t the problem. The problem was all me.

After feeling like I hit rock bottom with the learning progress it was time to make a decision. Go all in or give up. And there is no way I’m going to give up; it was abundantly clear that it was time, past time, to go all in on learning.

The Italian language school courses begin on Mondays so the following Monday I showed up to the school early, signed up, and immediately started the daily four-hour sessions.

The thing that struck me most on the very first day was a comment from the professor. To learn Italian, she said you must have “motivazione alta” (high motivation). I could easily mentally check out and play along during and after class because again, the problem is not the teacher, method, or material. Success or failure solely relies on my motivation, passion, and attitude… my heart.

Of course this all ties in with today’s reading in Mark Chapter 7 and our daily walk with Christ. Am I honoring my creator, savior and lord in vain as a hypocrite or with my heart?

And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written,

“‘This people honors me with their lips,
    but their heart is far from me;
in vain do they worship me,
    teaching as doctrines the commandments of men. (Mark 7:6-7)

Am I all in with Christ, just as I claim to be with language study? Is my motivation for Jesus high? Am I living as though each day could be my last? Does my life appear to be marked by one that is relentlessly seeking the kingdom of Heaven? Am I working out my faith with fear and trembling (as in Philippians 2:12)?

One more thought for today as a reason why in all of this. The end of the Sermon on the Mount has one of my favorite verses. Matthew 7:28 has the word “astonished”. They were astonished at his teaching. Mark 7:37 has the same word; they were astonished at his perfection and his miracles. This astonishment can and should be bestowed upon only one person, that is Jesus Christ.

How will the end of my day and your day today be one that resembles being astonished by who Jesus was and is, and what he did for us? Will we put him in his rightful place as savior and lord today and every day forward?