Towards the end of last year, I sat slumped in a chair near my husband’s work desk, tearily recounting the mishaps I’d had in a particularly trying work day, when I received a phone call from a parent from my school. She had heard about the error in my project and just wanted to assure me that I was doing a great job, she recognised the hard work I was putting in, and hoped I was feeling okay.

You see, among other things, I was conscious that the error was my fault. But I was embarrassed and disappointed that weeks of hard work had amounted to nothing and I was temporarily sunk in a well of doom and gloom.

Her phone call made all the difference! It was so encouraging that someone had taken the trouble to ring me and affirm me. And she wasn’t a particularly close friend, just someone prepared to put themselves out on a limb a little to brighten up my day. God bless her!

Later that evening, as I relaxed in front of a good movie, I received a text from a colleague. He had seen my day and he, too, affirmed what I do and wished me a good weekend.

On Saturday morning, when I checked my school emails, another colleague had sent me a supportive messge. My cup was overflowing. Normally a positive person, all I needed to bounce back from disappointment was a small injection of positivity. The three affirming messages combined to do this.

Jesus’ positive attitude to Zacchaeus, to the Samaritan woman, and to the adulteress was what they needed to reform their lives. Having someone who bothers enough to affirm us can make all the difference in how we feel about a situation and how we face whatever’s next.

It made me really conscious of trying to give back the same affirmation to others. Do I let my colleagues know what a great job they do? Or recognise my students who regularly work quietly and do homework without being hounded? Or let my family know how proud I am of them? Sometimes a little affirmation goes a long way.