Helen Gallivan is a member of the New Pilgrim Path team.
At his first meeting with Christ after the Resurrection, Peter is asked three times by Jesus, "do you love me?" And vacillating Peter moves on from the shame of his threefold denial of Christ to become the rock on which Christ’s church was founded.
It may be hard to forgive, but it can be harder to ask for and accept forgiveness. The ability to believe we are forgiven is crucial to our spiritual growth. This was the defining difference between Peter and Judas. Judas could not contemplate the possibility of forgiveness. He, who had heard Christ say that one must forgive seventy times seven, could not bring himself to ask Christ to forgive him. Instead, he died in despair.
It’s easy to forget the other side of the coin – if we must be prepared to forgive seventy times seven (i.e. limitlessly), then we must also be ready to ask for forgiveness – and believe we are forgiven - seventy times seven.
Self loathing leads inevitably to despair. Thomas Merton describes the process:
Despair is the ultimate development of a pride so great and so stiff-necked that it selects the absolute misery of damnation rather than accept happiness from the hands of God and thereby acknowledge that He is above us and that we are not capable of fulfilling our destiny by ourselves. 
 Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation, (Boston: Shambhala Publications, 2003) 180