Anna Dimmel is a writer and out-of-the-box spiritual teacher. Beginning as your typical southern church girl turned pastor, Anna witnessed many barriers inside religious institutions that hindered growth, connection to Spirit, acceptance and healthy relationships. After leaving her role as a pastor and a painful divorce, she re-focused her work to explore different perspectives on spirituality, faith & culture, relationships and inner healing work. By saying things Christian girls are not supposed to say and challenging the religious status quo, Anna continues to embrace authenticity and create a safe space for those outside the religious norm. Anna currently resides in Kansas with her four daughters, best friend and dog Penelope. Her roles include mom, blogger, podcaster, speaker, and professional trouble maker. She is currently studying law and policy at Liberty University. To learn more about Anna’s story, blog or podcast, visit www.annadimmel.com.
Growing up, I learned early-on that I was an achiever. I am driven to do my best at absolutely everything I put my mind on. This has been true not only in my work, but also in my relationships. I want to be the best – the most loyal friend, most compassionate listener, most engaging mom, the sexiest and most pleasing partner and wife.
This idea is fairly universal. None of us set out to be a partner, co-worker, friend or parent with the intention to royally screw up. And yet, for many of us, in the end, that is exactly how we feel.
That was me, after my second divorce.
I believe each season of life offers an invitation to go deeper; to dig for gold and discover uncharted territory. Although I was scared – terrified - of what I may discover deep in the crevices of my soul, I ventured in anyway. Something in me pulled at my core. Pushing me towards honesty… To be honest about what I wanted and equally what I feared.
We all have a dark place inside that we hide from, mask over and pretend isn’t there.
Some call this encounter the dark night of the soul. I tend to agree with that description; but because I see it as scary... But because it is exposing. We all have a dark place inside that we hide from, mask over and pretend isn’t there. For me, that dark place was my belief that I had failed. That I was incapable of creating the life I had always wanted. My dark place was that I believed I was the problem.
The invitation into these moments is sacred. It is a beautiful gift, inviting you to open and discover something priceless inside. The shadows of your soul are beautiful, tender and precious. They are gold.
This tender place inside of me was determined that I had walked through the door of failure too many times. That I was out of chances. That I didn’t deserve happiness or another shot at a relationship. Done, strike, I was out.
In this holy moment, I was reminded of something my grandmother used to say: in life, there are no mistakes – only errors in your perceptions.
Good Lord, that’s good.
And quite confusing when you are a down-to-the-wire, driven achiever.
HOW ARE THERE NO MISTAKES?
My grandmother was an amazing woman: powerful, strong and witty. Yet, constantly reading, studying and learning always seeking to learn. She loved crystal work and studied it immensely. I often send a box of rocks when I have a friend who is needing to be brave with a note about my Memee. Because, that woman embodied brave, warrior wisdom.
Sadly, I didn’t get the chance to ask her more about this piece of wisdom before she passed. But, I think I know what she may have meant...
I used to believe there were only two doors in life. One that was correct and one that was wrong. One that meant success and happiness and one that meant pain and failure. My issue was that I was convinced I was walking through the correct door, only to be knocked off my feet when I realized it had been the wrong one.
Or had it?
You see, what my grandmother had figured out is that life isn’t that black and white. There is not one “perfect” door, nor is there one “failure” door. Each door is neutral. Each one offers an equal opportunity. Each door is extending you the gift of wisdom, if you allow that path to be your teacher.
... if you are a student, there is no such thing as failure. There are only opportunities to learn.
What my grandmother was trying to teach me was that the goal in life isn’t to win. It isn’t to run after a list of achievements and check them off your list. That is merely skin-deep fluff. Rather, the goal in life is to learn. To never stop learning. To remain humble and teachable; continuing to posture yourself as the student and allowing life to be the teacher. A beautiful, constant teacher.
To believe that I would not fail is to believe that I do not need to learn - that I know everything and already have all the answers. But, to embrace that I will always be a student, removes failure from the conversation. Because, if you are a student, there is no such thing as failure. There are only opportunities to learn.
This nugget of wisdom from my grandmother held the key to facing my inner fear of failure, and to release it. To accept myself as a learner. To see that my evolution through life is healthy, because growth requires change.
I realized I had not made mistakes; I had simply been looking at my divorces from the wrong perspective. My revelation was that both of my marriages were unhealthy; the student in me knew it all along. At the end of my last marriage, I had finally learned what healthy was, and that it was time to let go of what wasn't. That was a step of growth – not a step of failure.
What my grandmother had discovered is that, in life there will be pain and joy. Happiness and sorrow. We need BOTH. Experiencing pain does not mean you have failed. Pain and sorrow are two of life’s greatest teachers. When we open ourselves up to allow balanced space for both pain and joy, we invite some of the best teachers to our table. Teachers who remind us that in life there are no mistakes, only errors in your perceptions.
For more Anna, head over to AnnaDimmel.com