Sometimes it’s hard to escape our pasts. My husband was no saint growing up. He, like all of us, made mistakes. He wasn’t a Christian, and while he was a decent guy, he didn’t have any qualms about living in all the ways the world told him he should live. It’s been 28 years since high school, but those decisions haunt him still.

Andy answered the call to preach early in our marriage. Living in small town Illinois, I would often run into people from his past. Upon hearing my last name, they would ask me who my husband was and, on finding out it was Andy, what he was doing now. The looks I received when I told them he was a pastor! I’ve had more than one actually say, “No. We must be talking about a different Andy.”

Of course, other times our past doesn’t haunt us as much as it traps us. Focusing our energies on mistakes that hindsight allows us to see but not fix can cause us to swim in sea of regret and sometimes depression. Focusing on our hurts can trap us in lies about who we are and what we need to do to survive.

When I was in junior high, I wore my hair pulled back in a ponytail. One of the boys in class compared my ears to those of a fictional elephant. Now, I didn’t particularly like this boy. He’d never been nice, and he wasn’t one I usually gave much attention to. But his statement, met with the hearty agreement of his pre-teen buddies, stuck with me.

To this day, I refuse to wear my hair up in public because of my sticking out ears. Do I really have elephant ears? A godly friend that I respect deeply tells me no. Does that mean the many years of believing it have melted away, freeing me to wear headbands, ponytails, and hats which I love? No. I’m working on it though.

It seems like a silly example, in light of the deeper hurts others, myself included, have allowed to attach to their spirits These lies can change how they view themselves and the actions of others towards them. In the grand scheme of things, it is minor. But it is one time the past impacted my present in an undeniable way.

Whether it’s our mistakes hounding us or events of the past shaping who we are and what we believe, our pasts don’t often stay there. And only God’s truth can put it back where it belongs.

When Suzanna Wilton and Paul Rustin, the main characters of Jennifer Rodewald’s Reclaimed, become neighbors in Rock Creek, Nebraska it puts them on the path to finding this out firsthand.

Suzanna has inherited her father’s land, but it’s far from the only thing he’s given her. Hurts and disappointments from the past have also left her with disdain for God and a chip on her shoulder. She’s out to prove herself on the land her father gave her, and those who would tell her she doesn’t belong better watch out. Suzanna carries so many wounds from her past that she can’t see truth through the pain they cause her.

When Paul Rustin, unintentionally joins the ranks of those she feels are out to see her fail, he faces a difficult path to show Suzanna otherwise. It takes his sister’s honesty to help him determine there may be more to his cantankerous neighbor than he first believed. Slowly, they build friendship and trust. Even more slowly, they realize there may be more than friendship growing between them.

When others in town conspire to make her leave, Suzanna’s wounds are aggravated. Her past colors her outlook in the present, and misunderstandings arise. Pair those with Paul’s less than savory past, and the relationship between them becomes less secure. When the truth about Suzanna’s own past and lack of faith come into the open, the lies she believes are reinforced. When Paul’s past comes knocking on his door one more time, it threatens to be the end of all they just started to build.

Truth, love, and forgiveness, both from God and people, are needed if Paul and Suzanna are going to make it beyond their pasts to find a future together.