GRAYLING — Do we ever really know what is going on in the lives of people around us? Sometimes, there is hidden pain behind the smiles which we cannot see.
“I was living a double life,” says Annie Jo Farmer-Robinson, 38, about her early years in Grayling.
Annie moved to Northern Michigan with her father as a teen in 1995. Her parents had divorced and her dad wanted her to have a new start in life in a smaller community. They had lived in Jackson. Her parents had both been alcoholics, but her father was working on sobriety.
“I kept hanging around the wrong people.”
After graduation, Annie didn’t know what she wanted to do with her life. So, she became a waitress and began to party a lot. ”I was unsure of myself and very insecure,” she admits about her early years as an adult. “I had no direction.
“I knew there was something better out there, but I didn’t know how to get there.” Annie made many attempts to change her direction, but she kept falling back into the same types of relationships as before.
At 20, she had her first child and a single parent. She stayed sober for about six months, believing becoming a parent was what she needed to turn herself around.
Another bad relationship followed and she had a second baby at 23. Again she tried to change her life, but her use of drugs and alcohol escalated. “From the outside, I looked good to other people. I was holding down a job and paying rent.”
And she was partying on the weekends. She seemed to be living the “good life.” Then she received her second D.U.I. Her father cut all ties to her at that point.
At 28, she became pregnant again. This time Annie tried Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) and out-patient treatment. She began attending church, but the partying did not completely stop.
Then, during one church service, she felt a calling to go up to the altar.
“That was when I surrendered my life to Jesus Christ,” says Annie.“The next day, I woke up and felt different.” The difference also came with a surprise however.
She was fired from her job that same day. At first, she cried. Then, she made a determination to trust God in this situation. Maybe somewhere in this situation, He had a plan. “This has to be God’s plan,” she told herself. From that point on, she immersed herself in A.A. and Christian small group Bible studies at her church.
But then, came another unexpected curve in the road of her spiritual path. In a dream, God told her to invite a man from A. A. over for dinner. She wasn’t too sure about this. Still, she followed God’s lead. Annie invited Brian Robinson over for a meal. By this time, her father had seen the change in her life and they were on speaking terms again.
“My dad hated all the previous guys I had gone out with.”
That evening, Annie’s cat became stuck on the roof. Immediately, Brian climbed up to help. This impressed her father now living across the street. He took a liking to Brian right away.
In time, Brian and Annie married. Annie also found her career direction in becoming a Certified Nurses Assistant (CNA) for hospice.
”That was another healing point in my life,” says Annie. She had lost her mom when she was 17. Her mom had slipped into a coma and the last Annie had seen of her was lying in a hospital bed unconscious.
To a 17-year-old, the whole situation was confusing. Getting into hospice care has changed that. Now, she finds enjoyment in serving others who are close to death and their family members.
“We become like part of the family to these people. I don’t know how many times I’ve been told, ‘We don’t know what we would have done without you.’
“In hospice, we’re a real team,” adds Annie, contrasting it with her previous relationships which led to trouble. While she notes her life is far from perfect, the changes she has experienced since surrendering her life to God have her standing on a better foundation.
“It’s a whole different world. I have come to appreciate the little things in life.
“Whatever happened in my past has made me who I am today. If I didn’t have God, I couldn’t have made it through any of this.”
For Annie, life has become all about trusting God.