Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /

How can cutting one’s nails possibly be connected with either spirituality or recovery? Good question. Something is telling me I need to view nail cutting from that perspective anyway, so here goes.

I guess, for me, cutting my nails is a bit like grooming or cutting away pieces of my personal attributes (character defects) that create barriers between me and the God  Within myself and others. It is important to understand that I hate clipping my fingernails. I will put it off until I have a painful hangnail or a chipped or split nail that forces me to take action if I want to avoid pain.

That’s a familiar concept—not doing something until I have to in order to avoid pain. I have been working on character defects for over 32 years, and, of course, I still have those “nails” growing back.  Dr. Paul O. (1995, There’s More to Quitting Drinking Than Quitting Drinking) describes his method for “cutting nails” or dealing with character defects as one in which he turns whatever the character defect is over to God at night when he goes to bed and then asks God to return the portion He wants him to have in the morning.

Dr. O (1995, p.143)describes the result of his character defect handling process thus: “Of the many times I’ve offered a defect to God in this manner, He has never responded by immediately removing it completely. Neither has He ever failed to remove a sizable segment of it. Furthermore, the remainder continually decreases in intensity…  .”

Dr. O’s way of handling character defects is one I can adopt. For years I resisted getting rid of character defects because I thought they were “who I was.” I thought I needed them to survive. By accept and adopt in my life. By doing so, I can allow God on a daily basis to “take what He wants and leave the rest”—-the part of my character defects God thinks I need.  If Dr. O is right, every time I “trim my nails” this way, my character defects will never completely go away. What will change, however, is the strength or size of the character defects. These will lessen because I am working with God in handling them—-and I won’t have to wait until problems and consequent pain motivate me to do something about my character defects.

Sounds good to me, think I’ll keep trying to co-create my reality with God—-including the part associated with character defects.

Please comment on the topic of handling character defects. Thanks. May God bless and keep you.