I chose to share my personal essay with my roommate who is not a member of the Church. Because our essays aim to include the Book of Mormon along with our personal experience, I thought she would provide a good perspective because she is not familiar with Book of Mormon stories and she would tell me if something didn't flow. Sometimes as members of the Church we forget that not everyone knows these accounts and we need to be mindful of that if our goal is to appeal to people who do not share our faith.
We began with this draft of my essay. She said she liked the part with the dream; she said the descriptions were clear and helped her feel my emotion. However, she said starting with the story of Lehi turned her off and she suggested I bring in the religious aspect at the end. She also said she wished the essay gave more background on my relationship. While she knows the story with that guy, she said she didn't feel like the second draft gave the reader enough reasoning for why I would experience such a dream.
After hearing her suggestions, I read the first draft to her. I didn’t originally post it on our blog because I was worried it was too personal (I’ve gone back and taken out some identifying details). She loved this draft. She said it was considerably more powerful because it shows I’m a real person and it shows how much pain I was in. She said the first draft I read to her felt preachy and out of place, but the way I incorporated the Book of Mormon in the second reading was significantly more compelling.
Reading the original draft to her was hard; my voice was shaking and I felt really vulnerable. But seeing how moved she was and hearing how she never realized how badly I was hurting made me realize I have something in that draft to build on. That feeling was confirmed when she said she felt it could help people who are in similar relationships (and even people who receive dreams from God) to talk about what they’re going through. This is a story I need to share, not only to help myself heal, but also to help other people understand what it feels like to be in an emotionally abusive relationship.