"The gift of the gab"; not everyone posseses it, but for those upon whom this shiny, slightly cockney-sounding ability has been bestowed, we must just accept they are likely to get stuff for cheap or for free...a bonus this, an extra that.
Blagging things can feel a bit like a sport. She who dares, wins, so why not just push the cheekiness a little further and get yourself a free drink, or a whole heap of popadoms? Everyone's a winner in a good game of blag. Oh and if you're a girl, possibly part of a group of girls, you've got a head start I reckon, particularly when dealing with blokes. Eyelashes at the ready, let's go...
Really? If I'm honest, and I'm going to be, I can be a bit of a blagger at times and quite enjoy the little adrenaline kick you get from feeling like you managed to wangle a life-win for you and your mates. Everyone loves a freebie. But one of the best lessons I learnt on a faith adventure called 'Escape and pray'* was about how God can work, and provide, and bring in the life-wins without me and my "gift of the gab" getting any of the glory.
As my escape and pray team drove to Manchester airport, it was my wise wise student friend Jo who posed the challenge that we don't try and blag a thing during our trip. As four girls it would be super easy to get a meal or money or favour from strangers, if we played the girl card. Coupled with some of us being particularly good with words and bold enough to go for the cheeky ask, we could have ended up with a trip that fuelled our egos. We could have come home confident in our powers of persuasion to get whatever we need.
So we agreed to lay down the gift of the gab. We said goodbye to blagging, flirting, cheeky asks, or any kind of 'damsel in distress' moves we could have pulled if the going got tough. We essentially disabled ourselves in something considered to be normal, accepted or expected behaviour in the eyes of the world. Instead we agreed that even if we didn't get fed, even if we slept on the streets, we would rather just pray than blag, and ask God to miraculously give us favour with strangers.
The powerful thing about this decision was, when we were provided for with a stunning family house and beds to sleep in, home-cooked food, metro train tickets, bus fares, and incredible acts of hospitality from strangers, we knew who all the glory, all the gratitude, all the credit was going to. God provided in abundance. God did not leave us. God did not need to use even the natural gifts and abilities he gave us. In this case, I think he enjoyed the fact we laid down our talent and took up a greater reliance on Him alone.
I didn't realise how helpful and freeing I would find laying down my ability to "talk a good game". It has made me reconsider how reliant on God I am in my day to day life, and it's given me faith to make more space for God to provide, for God to speak first, to move, to connect my life to others and cause favour where it is required. 48 hours in Milan won't have instantly re-wired some of the defaults us girls can fall back upon when we want something from someone, but it has certainly started a more lasting journey of discerning when to use God-given gifts and when to lay them to one side.
Perhaps you can try not blagging, flirting or persuading your way into something for a week? See what you notice about yourself and about God. See what you begin to pray and ask for, and what just falls away when your focus is shifted.
*I was in a team of four girls, flying to a mystery destination somewhere in Europe with no bank cards, no plan, the aim of not spending any money but to instead pray. Pray for a city, its universities and its people and be a blessing abroad... Oh, and also trust God to provide food, accommodation, whatever He decided we needed I guess... Check out #escapeandpray and the film of our adventure.