May 26, 2021

Finding Joy When Life Steals Your Happiness 

The old saying goes, “One step forward, two steps back.” For Olivia (Ancil) Arent, that saying has poignant and painful real-life application.

Olivia graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from Cedarville in 2019 and was working as a night shift float nurse at Holland Hospital in Holland, Michigan. On May 28, 2020, after finishing a recertification course for treating stroke patients, she and then-fiancé Alex Arent, who is now her husband, were taking a walk on a beautiful spring day. Then, out of nowhere, a red Honda Civic came barreling down the boulevard at 70 miles per hour in a 35 miles per hour zone and careened into the young couple. No one on the scene expected either Olivia or Alex to make it.

They were both transported back to the hospital where Olivia had just finished training, then transferred to Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital, a level-one trauma center located in nearby Grand Rapids.

Olivia and Alex both spent a week in intensive care. Olivia spent 78 days in the hospital altogether.

By the end of 2020, Olivia was beginning to heal. She and Alex exchanged wedding vows on December 3, and even though there was much recovery still ahead, much progress had been made. Then Olivia underwent emergency surgery on her left leg, which required going through the recovery process all over again.

As disheartening as this setback was, Olivia continues to walk with God through what has happened. There is still grieving but also rejoicing, not because her circumstances are always joyful, but because God is always good.

“Things that happen can steal your happiness,” Olivia shared during the podcast. “However, joy is a foundation, and it is based on who God is. Just focusing on that has really changed my life and changed my heart. Even though the situation might not be happy or good, God is good, and that is a reason to praise and that is a reason to have joy.”

Olivia’s story was first featured on the Cedarville Stories podcast on January 6, 2021.

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