One of the most important questions you can ever ask when starting to meet with someone is, “What’s your story?”
And make sure she knows you don’t want the reader’s condensed version! You want as many facts as she is comfortable sharing.
What has brought pain into her life? Where has she struggled. How has the Lord been at work bringing her into a relationship with Him? And since? Has she ever dabbled in the occult? Or been sexually involved with someone?
These questions can reveal key things so helpful to know at the onset. But be sure to ask gently and respectfully, and make it clear it’s ok for her to only share what she is comfortable telling.
If she has experienced severe wounding or abuse, if she’s had any prior experience with the occult, it can really help to know this not just so you can help her move forward, but so you can help prepare her for ways the enemy might try to intervene and interfere in your relationship.
Remember discipleship is about spurring people on to grow! The enemy does not want this! And it seems the greater his hold on someone formerly, the more desperate he will be to thwart your attempts.
I once met with a woman who had supported herself working as stripper and who had repeatedly been deeply wounded relationally as well as sexually assaulted. The story of how the Lord reached out to her in love drawing her to Himself was absolutely amazing! When I met her she was so eager to grow!
Yet about a month after we’d started meeting, when she heard a mutual friend share how she’d just learned the Bible says sex before marriage is wrong – she was so upset! This was the only type of love she’d ever known and as a brand new believer she was not ready to give this up! Right away she started withdrawing from fellowship and not being available for us to meet. It broke my heart… how I wish I’d known to give her a heads up in advance.
While the enemy can’t keep someone from entering into a relationship with Jesus, he is so cunning in his subterfuge and efforts to undermine and interefere any way he can with her growing – which very much includes constant subtle efforts to destroy her relationship with whomever is seeking to disciple her.
It is vital you be ready for this and if possible, beat him at his game, by forewarning the woman of ways he may try to attack.
You see, when someone has traumatic or occultic experiences in her past many times there are strongholds that still remain, that need to be addressed. This is why it’s vital you ask a person to share about her past with you, so you can attempt to prepare her for the battle that’s sure to erupt.
Too many times people read “forgetting what lies behind and pressing on towards what lies ahead…” as if there’s no need to address past wounding and strongholds. But remember verses need to be read in context! And in this context Paul is talking about his past achievements, not wounding!
Now people may not be willing to be open about this until they know you better – that may be one of the ways the enemy has already been at work encouraging them to build walls around their heart. But it sure can help if you at least ask ~ and if you’re willing to share about painful things you’ve been through too!
This is why when I begin meeting with someone I will often start telling her my story first, sharing deeply about my past. That sets the stage for her to realize here’s someone willing to be real, willing to be honest with me. Someone who cares enough to reveal even the pain she’s been through. And I do this after praying, asking the Lord to guide my sharing and help me speak only what’s helpful for building up the person who listens.
Then I ask her to share her story in depth – can this help launch your time in a powerfully bonding way, even if there aren’t deep issues.
But if there are, be sure to encourage her – God is a God of hope! Nothing is too difficult for Him! He is able to take the ugliest scars and bring beauty out of them, but there really is a battle going on and the enemy is going to do whatever he can to get her feelings hurt and try to get her to pull away from you.
If you can point this out from the getgo and encourage her, “If this happens, if I do anything or say anything that hurts you, please come to me and let’s talk because I don’t want the enemy messing with us” and warn her to be on the lookout for ways he might try to isolate her from other believers too ~ can that ever help you beat him at his game and thwart his purposes to destroy your relationship!