I had the opportunity to talk with my best friend growing up about my personal essay. He's not a member of the church, so I figured he would be a good candidate for getting genuine, valuable feedback on my essay. He told me that he really wanted to talk to me on the phone rather than email me or text me his response to my essay. I had let him know ahead of time the reason I wrote the personal essay (that I hoped to be able to share my faith well through my personal essay), so he had an idea of what to look for.
He let me know that he thought the essay sucked! He said he wanted to speak with me on the phone because he didn't want to be offensive due to how impersonal a text or an email can be. He let me know that he felt like I was just putting in a plug for the Book of Mormon that didn't tie in very well to my personal essay, something that I had been thinking all along. I'm going to focus on tying in the Book of Mormon better into my personal essay. He mentioned making the Book of Mormon section more personal by including how it helped me or something like that, rather than just simply relating a story that happened to be somewhat similar to my personal experience. I felt like that was a very valuable insight that I'll try to incorporate into my revisions of my essay.
Aside from going over the my personal essay, we had a very good conversation and caught up a little bit on our lives. Even though he's not a member of the church, he knows quite a bit about the church because of me and my family. He is very willing to let me know how he thinks about things regarding the church, which is very valuable to me because it helps me see the church from an outsider's perspective. This outsider's perspective helps me know how to share the gospel better with nonmembers.
All things considered, this conversation was very valuable because it a) has helped me to know how to get my personal essay to a point where a nonmember would be more likely to read it or pay any attention to it and b) has helped me have an opportunity to catch up with my friend and share my beliefs without being preachy or being awkwardly direct about my beliefs.