By Vanessa Alacron — When I was five years old, a dog bit me. That’s when my dislike of dogs began. But, when my fiancé begged for us to own a dog when we got married, I decided to grant him his wish as long as I was not involved in its care. I could see the disappointment in his eyes–so much that I had a change of heart and surprised him in my wedding vows saying that I would care for our puppy. Although reluctant to meet her, I was willing to give it a try. When I met our puppy, I discovered that I love dogs. Before, I detested being licked or sniffed. Somehow, dogs knew I didn’t like them so they would always come to me. Now, I welcome this little puppy who just wanted to get to know me.

My friends are shocked; they cannot believe I’m the same person because I was such a proclaimed dog hater and now, I’m a dog lover. What changed? A shift of perspective, perhaps? Allowing myself one additional experience, a second chance? While I have this perception that I’m an open-minded person, I am not always drawn to change and avoid risk as much as possible

Have you ever found yourself so certain about something, but then you learn one thing and now you think differently? We learn from our experiences, so one bad experience can lead us to avoid or dislike something for the rest of our lives. We are all bound to change, though. In the story of Saul in the book of Acts, could ever think that Saul, persecutor of Christians, would later on be an evangelist for Christ? The Bible is full of transformation stories.

And while my change was from disliking dogs to loving them, it has made me rethink my current dislikes and biases. How could I love something that I refused for my entire life?  Who are the people or groups of people that I am currently shutting out of my life because of one bad moment? Could it be that I’m missing out on others because of my own fears?

I’d encourage everyone to reflect on your bad experiences with others. How many of them are up for your review or are due for a second chance?

“Summing up: Be agreeable, be sympathetic, be loving, be compassionate, be humble. That goes for all of you, no exceptions. No retaliation. No sharp-tongued sarcasm. Instead, bless—that’s your job, to bless. You’ll be a blessing and also get a blessing.” (1 Peter 3:8-9 MSG).

Vanessa Alacron is the faith engagement pastor at Boulder Adventist Church in Boulder, Colorado.